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The Seventh Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Mercury Meets to Discuss the Rapid Entry into Force of the Minamata Convention

Friday, 01 April 2016
The seventh session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to Prepare a Global Legally Binding Instrument on Mercury (INC7) was held from 10 to 15 March 2016 at the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Center in Jordan. The session brought together representatives from 103 governments, NGOs and intergovernmental organisations. The purpose was to prepare the entry into force of the Minamata Convention and initiate discussion on its subsequent effective implementation. Delegates focused on a series of issues such as export and import procedures of mercury, through consideration of best available practices in the field, as well as the drafting of financial rules for the upcoming Conference of Parties (COP1). INC7 resulted in the provisional adoption of technical guidance documents related to emissions and the identification of individual stocks of mercury and mercury compounds. Moreover, INC7 forward to the Global Environment Facility (GEF) Council a Memorandum of Understanding between the Minamata Convention and the GEF Council, as well as a proposed guidance to the GEF on financing and activities related to implementation of the Convention.

As UNEP Deputy Director Ibrahim Thiaw noted, pollutants have been found responsible for the death of nine million people a year globally, which, in his view, called for action under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development regarding issues States cannot individually address. He made reference to the Montreal Protocol as a model for the integration of science, policy and action to tackle a common concern. At the first day of the session, a provisional agenda was adopted including legal, technical and financial issues, in preparation of the COP1. The plenary discussed issues falling under a number of Articles of the Minamata Convention, such as mercury supply sources and trade (Article 3), mercury emissions (Article 8), as well as effectiveness evaluation.

With respect to Article 3, the draft guidance on completing the forms required under said provision contains information on the use of forms regarding written consent of parties and non-parties to the Convention for the import of mercury, as well as general notification of consent on mercy import. Referring to the treaty obligation on reduction of mercury emissions, under Article 8 of the Convention, the interim secretariat introduced the report of the Expert Group on Best Available Techniques and Best Environmental Practices (BAT/BEP), which was taken into consideration in the draft guidance documents on Article 8 issues. The final draft on BAT/BEP guidance includes a text that notes that, in the determination of BAT, each party will take account of its national circumstances, depending on its economic and technical considerations. During the discussion on the effectiveness evaluation of the Convention, the interim secretariat introduced the compilation and analysis of the means of obtaining monitoring data in relation to the effectiveness evaluation (UNEP(DTIE)/Hg/INC.7/12). The outcome of the session resulted in the submission of a request to the interim secretariat to cooperate with national governments, regional monitoring programs, the World Health Organization was well as stakeholders to gather information on existing monitoring programs, in order to develop a draft framework for global monitoring, as well as a draft strategy to include reports and data that could be used for the overall evaluation on the Convention’s effectiveness.

INC7 marks the beginning of a new process on the development of an operational and administrative framework, aiming at facilitating the implementation of the Convention. The negotiations after the adoption of the Convention have to carefully balance the views of the parties, the compromises made as well as the fulfillment of the goal of the Convention. The results of INC7 have been described as ‘neither sinking nor swimming, ultimately floating towards this goal’. With 25 ratifications, the Minamata Convention’s entry into force is on the horizon. The work for finding common ground on the protection of human health and the environment from mercury pollution will be resumed at COP1, expected to take place within 2017.

Source: IISD Reporting Services
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