IPEN has engaged in the science-to-policy (Science-Policy) discussions under the BRS and Minamata Conventions, SAICM, and the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) for many years. In March 2022, UNEA adopted a resolution calling for the establishment of a new Science-Policy Panel to support action on chemicals, waste, and pollution.
The first meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC1) of the Plastics Treaty will meet from 28 November – 2 December 2022 in Punta del Este, Uruguay. See background on IPEN's work toward a Plastics Treaty, and check back to this page for updates, resources, and information during the INC-1 meetings.
How Plastics and Chemicals Relate to the Plastics Treaty: Resources for INC-1
For an ambitious Plastics Treaty, it is important to address plastics as materials made from carbon and chemicals. People are exposed to toxic chemicals at every phase of the plastics life cycle – from oil extraction to plastics production, transport, use, and disposal.
Plastics contain toxic chemicals linked to cancer, brain damage, infertility, and other serious conditions. About one-quarter of the chemicals in plastics are known to be toxic, while hundreds more may be as harmful but have never been tested. A Plastics Treaty must be a global health treaty.
Plastics transport chemicals into every nook and cranny of the world – they bring toxic chemicals into our homes and ultimately into our bodies. Communities already facing disproportionate health impacts from chemical exposures face the greatest threats from plastics.
See the IPEN video “Plastics, Plastic Waste, and Chemicals in Africa”' showing how exports of plastics and plastic waste, mostly from wealthy countries, bring toxic chemicals to Africa, exposing children and families to harmful chemicals and poisoning the circular economy. Available in English and French.
Industry promotes recycling as the solution to plastics pollution, but most plastics are never recycled. Further, making plastic waste into fuel creates more dangerous chemicals, magnifying the health threats from plastics.
The toxic chemicals in plastics make them inherently incompatible with circular economic approaches. We need immediate steps to significantly reduce production of plastics and a fundamental shift in our materials economy to replace them with safer, sustainable materials that promote a healthy, circular economic future.
IPEN is actively engaged in the August 2022 in-person SAICM IP4 (4th Intersessional Process) meeting in Bucharest, Romania. We have engaged with the SAICM process since the first Preparatory meeting in 2003 and continue to support the contributions of our member organizations around the world to the SAICM Process today.
While the Stockholm Convention provides an international forum to develop protections from Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), there are thousands of toxic chemicals that can harm our health and the environment but are not considered POPs. SAICM the only international agreement that addresses the full range of health and environmental concerns associated with the production and use of these chemicals.
Although it is not legally binding, the adoption of SAICM by more than 100 governments around the world provides the momentum for an international movement to reform chemical policies and practices. SAICM’s objective is to achieve the sound management of chemicals throughout their life cycle so that, “by 2020, chemicals are used and produced in ways that lead to the minimization of significant adverse effects on human health and the environment.”
However, as early as 2013 the African Region noted that “Challenges in the sound management of chemicals will persist beyond 2020 as new chemicals enter the market and new emerging policy issues are identified.”
IPEN Urges UN Oceans Conference to Address Chemical Threats
Discussions on ocean pollution often center around visible pollutants, which can distract from the invisible chemical pollutants. Due to runoff, spills, leaching and dumping our oceans often act as dumping grounds for chemicals and plastic wastes. The continuous expansion of the production of plastics and chemicals, coupled with limited international control-mechanisms has led to a global, invisible crisis that has left the marine environment exposed to a cocktail of toxic chemicals that threaten ocean life and interact in unknown ways.
IPEN participated in the UN Oceans Conference to raise the issue of toxic chemicals in the oceans. We traveled to Lisbon in June 2022 following the meetings of BRS COPs in Geneva and the pre-INC for the plastics treaty in Dakar. There are some controls on toxic chemicals under BRS and we are calling for strong controls under the plastics treaty.
IPEN's message to the Oceans Conference delegates stated,
"The escalating production of chemicals, coupled with limited international controls has led to a global, invisible crisis where the oceans are exposed to a cocktail of toxic chemicals. It will not be possible to restore ecosystems, fish stock or to conserve coastal and marine regions if we do not have global controls on toxic chemicals...Unfortunately, discussions on pollutants often centre around the visible pollutants but let us not forget the things that we cannot see today that damage our future tomorrow."
IPEN is co-hosting two side events at the Oceans Conference:
The Invisible Global Crisis: Exceeding the Limits of the Pollution Planetary Boundary - Link - Register Monday, 27 June 2022 at 13:30 CET FIL - Lisbon Exhibition and Congress Centre, Auditorium I Co-hosted with the Centre for Sea and Society
Marine pollutants are impacting the health of our oceans, their inhabitants and those dependent on oceans for food, culture and their very survival. Everyday an ever-increasing cocktail of intentional and unintentional chemical releases, as well as an unrelenting tidal wave of wastes, particularly plastic waste, enters our waterways and the marine environment.
Builds upon previous mercury monitoring activities by IPEN and BRI, this study measured the mercury body burden of 757 women of child-bearing age in Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and SIDS-like locations in the Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean and the Indian Ocean. Executive Summary
In May 2021, the cargo ship X-Press Pearl caught fire outside of Sri Lanka. The result was a vast, complex debris field of macro- and microscopic wastes and pollutants. What happened? And how can we prevent future similar disasters?
Chemicals are polluting oceans and waterways, not only endangering wildlife and those who rely on seafood for sustenance, but threatening the collapse of many fisheries. In combination with global warming, this is a catastrophe in the making. We still have time to stop the destruction, but as this report indicates, we will need to go beyond thinking only about how to control overfishing or manage pollutants in the fish we consume.
IPEN has been studying the impacts of plastics and the chemicals they contain for many years. Harmful chemicals affect every step in the lifecycle of plastics — from new plastics to products made from recycled plastics, and from discarded plastics to various methods of incineration. Click here to view our Plastics library.
Video story of Mercy Ritte, a life-long resident of Molokai and mother who participated in mercury monitoring on the island.
The UN sustainability goal number 14 “Life below water” calls for protecting and restoring ecosystems, promoting sustainable fishing, and conserving coastal and marine regions, among other targets. To reach these targets, it will be crucial to address harms from toxic chemicals in the oceans.
Discussions on pollution and pollutants often center around the visible pollutants but let us not forget the things that we cannot see. Visible litter is accompanied by invisible threats. Plastics are a combination of carbon and chemicals, many of which have adverse effects on human health and the environment. Pesticides, persistent organic pollutants (POPs), and heavy metals are also contaminating the oceans at an alarming rate and are spreading to the most remote regions of the world. It will not be possible to restore ecosystems or fish stocks or to conserve coastal and marine regions if we do not have global controls on toxic chemicals that are endangering life under water.
These toxic chemicals have dire effects on coastal communities. Due to long-range ocean transport of POPs, contamination of traditional foods is now a public health issue. Coastal communities also often bear the cost of toxic spills from ocean-going vessels. In May 2021Sri Lanka’s beaches were covered in debris following a fire onboard a container ship filled with plastics and chemicals. Together with Centre for Environmental Justice in Sri Lanka, IPEN investigated the effects of the accident and found that the plastics on the beaches contained alarming concentrations of toxic chemicals. We also surveyed the local fishermen who told of lost income, destroyed nets, decreased catch, and changes in the sea. When this data was published the government changed their routines for the beach cleanups in the area, where people previously wore little to no protection, and adopted protocols to better match hazardous waste cleanup.
The potential for plastic wastes to spread toxic chemicals in the marine environment has been well documented over the past 50 years. In 2021 IPEN measured PCBs and Benzotriazole UV-stabilizers in beached pellets from beaches from all over the world. These chemicals are linked to harms to marine life, human health and the environment. All ten analyzed BUVs and all thirteen analyzed congeners of PCBs were found in pellets from all sampled locations, demonstrating that plastic pellets found on beaches all over the world bring toxic chemicals with them.
Consequences of toxic chemicals in the ocean are especially affecting small-island developmental states (SIDS), where women and children are often the most exposed to these chemicals. In 2018, IPEN measured the mercury levels in over 700 women from 21 countries, mostly SIDS. Shockingly, 75% of the women had higher levels of mercury than the health advisory levels.
We need global controls on toxic chemicals to protect the oceans and the health of everyone that is dependent on the oceans for survival.
In March 2022, 175 countries came together in an agreement to begin negotiations on a global treaty to address the plastic crisis. From May 30 to June 2, 2022, delegates from around the world met in Dakar, Senegal to set the terms for the next two years of work around a global Plastics Treaty.
IPEN members from Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe attended the meetings in Dakar, and other IPEN groups from around the world continue to closely monitor the Plastics Treaty process. In Dakar, IPEN co-chair Dr. Tadesse Amera outlined our concerns about the health threats from chemicals in plastics and called for an open, participatory treaty process in his opening remarks to the plenary session.
In Dakar IPEN worked to educate delegates on the importance of developing within the INC an approach that understands plastics as carbon and chemicals, addresses the health and environmental threats from toxic chemicals in plastics, and promotes safer, non-toxic materials that are compatible with a circular economy.
From June 6-17, IPEN members will participate in the Meetings of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions taking place in Geneva, Switzerland. Check this page for updates throughout the meetings.
IPEN and its members have been contributing to the development of the Stockholm Treaty since its inception in 2001. The Treaty aims to protect human health and the environment from persistent organic pollutants, or POPs, such as pesticides, industrial chemicals, and their toxic by-products. We have also contributed to the Basel Convention and its work to protect human health and the environment from toxic waste, and to the Rotterdam Convention’s work on the international trade in hazardous chemicals.
In Geneva, IPEN members from around the world will educate delegates about the health effects from toxic chemicals, providing data from IPEN’s scientific studies and observations from their local situations.
In addition, IPEN will co-host the following side events during the meetings:
POPs waste in a circular economy
Monday, 6 June 2022 at 6:15-7:45 p.m.
organized by IPEN, Arnika Association, and CREPD Photos
Health, Chemicals, Plastics & a Non-Toxic Circular Economy - Link
Thursday, 9 June 2022 at 1:15- 2:45 p.m.
organized by IPEN with Switzerland and Uruguay as co-organizers - New Plastics Video - Excerpt 1 | Excerpt 2
Video recording of session
Plastics & Refuse-Derived Fuel: Fuel Product or Plastic Waste Export? - Link
Thursday, 9 June 2022 at 6:15-7:45 p.m.
organized by IPEN - Excerpt
Video recording of sesssion
‘Chemical recycling’ of plastics – What is it and what impacts for the environment? - Link
Thursday, 10 June 2022 at 1:15-2:45 p.m. | Room 14
organized by IPEN & GAIA - Excerpt
Video recording of sesssion
Youth Participation in National Implementation Plan and Strategies (NIPs) to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions
Wednesday, 15 June 2022 at 1:15-2:45 p.m | Room B
organized by AKO Foundation, IPEN, Young volunteers for the Environment, CIEL
The hybrid meeting of the fifth United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA-5), entitled “Strengthening Actions for Nature to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”, and its preparatory (the Open-Ended Committee of Permanent Representatives – OECPR), will focus on five thematic areas: plastics, nature-based solutions and biodiversity, chemicals, green recovery and circular economy, and organizational and administrative matters. IPEN has sent an international delegation to contribute to the in-person negotiations.
Under the plastic pollution thematic area, the main focus will be on discussing a mandate to start negotiation of a treaty on plastic. If agreed, the mandate would convene an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) to negotiate a legally binding instrument on plastic pollution. Under consideration are three draft resolutions: one proposed by Rwanda and Peru and supported by over 50 countries; another by Japan; and the last one proposed by India. Details about these proposals and IPEN’s positions can be found in IPEN’s Quick Views on UNEA 5.2.
Under the chemicals thematic area there are 3 resolutions that will be discussed. In our quick views we focus on two resolutions: one on the Science-Policy Panel on chemicals, waste, and pollution and the resolution on Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste. In our quick views and global science policy documents, we outline many specific issues and recommendations, highlighting the need for precautionary action and as well as adequate funding for the sound management of chemicals and waste.
Undoubtedly there is a lot of energy behind a new, ambitious instrument. However, there is still much work to be done on other issues, and increased efforts must be made to urgently address the Emerging Policy Issues and Issues of Concern such as Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, Highly Hazardous Pesticides and Chemicals in Products. A coordinated international response to prevent all sources of lead, cadmium, and arsenic exposure before they are allowed to impact human health and pollute the environment would be welcome. A special effort should be on accelerating actions to eliminate lead paint, noting that this goal for 2020 has not yet been met.
Global mercury pollution has been recognised as a major problem that can only be tackled effectively by international regulation and government cooperation. Mercury is a hazardous neurotoxin that can cause many health problems in humans, and most exposure is caused by dietary impacts such as eating contaminated fish where mercury bioaccumulates. The Minamata Convention on Mercury has been developed as the main international legal instrument to protect human health and the environment from mercury pollution with range of controls on trade, emissions, and use of mercury.
The second segment of COP 4 will be held as a face to face meeting from March 21-25 in Bali, Indonesia. Ahead of that meeting, further IPEN policy positions to address agenda items will be posted here. The Bali meeting will see several controversial issues negotiated including determination of waste thresholds to define mercury waste, proposed amendments for rapid phase out of dental amalgam, additions to product annexes and outcomes of the long reports from parties (due for submission December 2021). Reporting is a key issue as it should make transparent which parties are mining, trading, stockpiling, and using mercury, including how they use mercury and manage mercury waste. The first reports had high rates of submission, but the data quality was so poor that the secretariat could not inform the COP of key issues (see IPEN intervention on ‘reporting’). It is hoped that the quality of information provision will improve in the long format reporting due by the end of 2021.
The online meeting for COP 4.1 of the Mercury Treaty was held on the 1st -5th November 2021. The meeting was largely administrative in the sense that only the ‘essential’ agenda items were considered although the full agenda was adopted. The items were considered necessary to allow the Convention to continue functioning or had time-sensitive elements that required attention.
COP 4.1 online prioritised the issues of Budget and Programme of work. Most of the week was dedicated to the contact group on Budget and Programme of work with observers excluded from both the contact group and regional meetings.
The plenary sessions held on the Monday and Wednesday was our only real opportunity to engage with the meeting and interventions were highly limited due to time constraints and technical difficulties. However, we were able to deliver an intervention on reporting (Article 21) on Wednesday. The final plenary session of Friday the 5th November was held mainly in decision making mode again making it virtually impossible to intervene.
The outcome of the meeting was that the budget was passed, priorities for action on mercury were recommended to the Global Environment Facility (financial mechanism), guidance on reporting was presented, and a proposal for moving forward on effectiveness evaluation of the convention was considered.
Ongoing debates around several administrative and substantive issues have bogged down progress on effectiveness evaluation since COP 3. The type of indicators required and the structure of the Effectiveness Evaluation (EE) committee and analysis team among them. Norway and Canada have proposed a roadmap forward in Conference Room Paper 1 (CRP1) which was presented early at COP 4.1. Intersessional work on this issue through a party led initiative had assisted to reduce the areas of contention but it is hoped that CRP1 will provide the basis to resolve all remaining issues at COP 4.2. This item has an element of time sensitivity as the COP requires and effectiveness evaluation to be underway by 2023 and if a resolution is not found by the end of the COP 4.2 meeting in Bali in March 2022, then that time frame may be at risk. Norway requested that the secretariat invite written comments and to arrange an online session for parties to exchange views on the framework in CRP1 ahead of COP 4.2.
Programme of work and budget
This was one of the time sensitive agenda items as the budget adopted by COP-3 will expire at the end of 2021 and to ensure continuous funding of the convention the COP 4.1 meeting needed to approve a budget to allow work to continue at COP 4.2 where the 2022 -2023 can be reconsidered in full. The secretariat presented a case that costs had risen for administration of the convention with rising secretariat staffing costs, scientific work to support the convention and funding necessary to support the initiation of the effectiveness evaluation process. A zero-growth budget scenario and an optional 5% nominal increase budget scenario were included in the budget meeting documents with the secretariat indicating that a 5% increase best met the needs of the convention. Sam Adu-Kumi (Ghana) and Reginald Hernaus (Netherlands) co-chaired the contact group on this item which had 200 delegates attend (observers were excluded) and an area of significant debate was the costs around effectiveness evaluation. A decision was taken to approve the budget for the general trust fund for 2022 of USD 3,397,684 million as part of the budget for the biennium 2022−2023. The budget discussions will recommence at COP 4.2. The Executive Secretary was also permitted to draw down on the surplus from the general trust fund the amount of up to USD 500,962 to cover some costs of COP 4.
Parties were required to submit short format reports by December 31, 2019 and long format reports by December 31, 2021. While reporting rates for the short format reports were high (89%) the data content of the reports was relatively poor. So much so that the secretariat has not been able to use the information to reliably inform the COP of key issues such as how much mercury has been mined, by whom, where it was traded and for what use. There was also concern that the information did not allow the secretariat to determine which parties had ESM or dedicated treatment facilities for mercury waste. This is critical data that the COP must be informed of to accurately assess the effectiveness of the convention and where to direct resources.
In recognition of the need to improve reporting the secretariat issued further guidance on how to report accurately on the matters required under Article 21 and other matters further determined by the COP. The guidance will not be formally adopted until COP 4.2 but parties were encouraged to trial it to improve reporting quality.
Dates of the Resumed Fourth Meeting of the COP
There were several comments by parties in plenary, when discussing the next segment of COP 4, that the emergency online meeting measures employed during the pandemic should not establish any form of precedent (in operational terms) when face to face meetings resumed. Several parties and regions were concerned that the online format did not allow for full deliberation of issues and was not a suitable format for negotiations on keys decisions.
In particular, countries from the south have been disadvantaged by poor connectivity to online meetings, challenging working hours due to time zone differences and other barriers to participation. IPEN agrees that online engagement has been very problematic for many parties and observers alike and that the face to face meetings should not continue with the restrictions imposed by online meetings.
This will have ongoing significance for COP 4.2 as the host country Indonesia has proposed to have much smaller delegations (for social distancing) limited to 4 delegates per party and an unspecified but limited number of observers. Observers have endured increasingly restricted opportunities to engage with delegates with both regional meetings and contact groups on budget excluding observers at this COP and the previous BRS COP online. This practice should not be permitted to continue once face to face meetings resume. A decision was taken in plenary to proceed with the face to face second segment of the COP 4 in Bali Indonesia, March 21-25, 2022.
The financial mechanism of the convention was raised as an agenda item specifically so that there was an ability by parties to give targeted interventions in plenary. These may be forwarded to the meetings considering the GEF 8th replenishment to assist with determining mercury funding priorities. The financial mechanism is much broader than this item and includes issues such as the Specific International Programme for funding capacity building and technology transfer projects. However, given the time constraints of the online meeting the discussion was limited to interventions in plenary by parties seeking to suggest priorities to be considered within the planning stage of the GEF 8th replenishment. No decisions were made on this item.
The Bali Declaration on Combatting Global Illegal Trade of Mercury
There was also a presentation of what Indonesia called a 'political document' which is a draft declaration seeking party cooperation to crack down on illegal mercury trade which is a major problem for parties with ASGM. While the Bali declaration is largely symbolic it does draw attention to the need to act on the illegal mercury trade and it grows and continues to feed the ASGM trade. There will be several consultation sessions on the declaration before COP 4.2. The next consultation round will be 6 November 2021 – 31 January 2022 followed by text consolidation and a further round of consultation on 16 February – 16 March 2022. Final consolidated text will be distributed on 21 March 2022 followed by a Special Brief Session of the Final Consolidated Text: 25 March 2022.
The twelfth meeting of the Basel Convention Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG12) is taking place in a planned two-session approach due to the Covid-19 crisis: an online segment on September 1st - 3d and if possible, a face-to-face meeting in March. Recorded briefings on the set-up from UNEP are available in the UN languages here.
The online session will not take any decisions or negotiate any text but instead will focus on presentations of progress of the intersessional process, such as the various technical guidelines followed by interventions. More information about the online segment and meeting documents is available here and here.
IPEN was well represented at the first segment of the 12th Open Ended Working Group of the Basel Convention along with delegates from scores of countries across the globe. The meeting sought to confirm schedules for advancing reviews of key technical guidelines for addressing some of the most critical global pollution issues in the world today including the transboundary movement of hazardous wastes such as plastic, mercury, and persistent organic pollutants (POPs). The advancement of the technical guidance is to allow their presentation for adoption at COP 15 of the Basel Convention inJuly 2021.
IPEN submitted a range of interventions calling for:
Lowering of the Low POPs content Levels in the General Guidelines on POPs waste management as levels are currently too high and are allowing the most toxic chemicals on the planet to be recycled into children's toys and to pollute the food chain in low income countries.
Promotion of non-combustion technology for POPs destruction in the same guidelines instead of incineration. Burning POPs waste generates additional forms of POPs such as dioxins and maintains the toxic cycle. Non-combustion technology does not produce these byproducts and is the cleanest technology for POPs waste destruction.
Revising the D10 guidance on incineration to make transparent the vast CO2 emissions and dioxin contaminated ash problems with incineration which are contaminating global food chains instead of describing how to build and run a modern incinerator.
Revising the D10 guidance on incineration to include pyrolysis and gasification which are widely known to be incineration technology promoted by the petrochemical industry as a solution to plastic waste pollution, but are completely absent from the guidance leaving parties in the dark about the impacts of these technologies.
Aligning the mercury waste guidance of the Basel Convention with the mercury waste guidance of the Minamata Convention to ensure consistency and reduce the ability of mercury waste to escape environmentally sound management.
In the second segment of the online meeting scheduled for the 3rd of September, IPEN will present further interventions on plastic waste which will be uploaded to this site and the Basel Convention website.
IPEN is engaged in the intersessional work for most of the technical working groups and will therefore have a special focus on the agenda items relating to the technical guidelines on:
POPs waste guidelines, including determining low POPs content limits
E-waste and the distinction between waste and non-waste
Two other items that IPENers will keep an eye on are
Whether the technical guidelines for waste lead-acid batteries should be updated
Illegal traffic of waste
IPEN is also engaged in two side-events scheduled for Wednesday, September 2nd
E-wastes: Closing the Remaining Loopholes, hosted by the Basel Action Network (BAN)
Hidden Dangers in Plastic Waste: The Next Basel Challenge, hosted by a group of NGOs including BAN, GAIA and IPEN
See full side-event schedule and registration here.
After the day's plenary sessions, IPEN held a well-attended side event on "Mercury Contaminated Sites: guidance, finance and the challenges of ASGM sites." Panelists (IPEN Mercury Policy Advisor Lee Bell; Yuyun Ismawati (Nexus3, Indonesia, and IPEN Lead on ASGM); and Griffins Ochieng (CEJAD, Kenya)) shared information about the reasons that urgent action on contaminated sites is required, the global scale of the problem, sources of contaminated sites, cases of ASGM hotspots in Kenya, economic losses due to mercury, and more. IPEN Heavy Metals Working Group Co-Chair and Director of CREPD (Cameroon), Dr. Gilbert Kuepouo, facilitated the event. Additionally, Arturo Gavilan (Director ofResearch On Contaminants, Wastes And Biosafety, National Institute Of Ecology, Mexican Ministry Of Environment And Natural Resources of Mexico) and Dr. Rocío Millán Gómez from the Environment Department of the Ministerio de Ciencia, Innovación y Universidades' Soil Conservation and Recuperation Research Unit (Spain), spoke from the floor about their personal experiences related to remediation of mercury contaminated sites.
IPEN will be delivering interventions on various subjects throughout the COP3 meeting- you can find them on this page. Early IPEN interventions focused on effectiveness evaluation, the amalgam amendment to Annex A, and mercury waste definitions.
25 November, 2019
Today the Mercury Treaty COP3 began. Mr. Koichiro Matsunaga, Minamata Disease Patient, addressed the delegates in plenary during the opening session. In a moving statement, Mr. Matsunaga, who was exposed to mercury in the womb, reminded delegates of the real-life implications of mercury poisoning. Born in 1963, Mr. Matsunaga could not walk until 7 years old due to Minamata Disease. Despite his disabilities, he enjoyed riding bicycles, but in 2010, it became difficult for him to walk because of increasing pain, which forced him to live in a wheelchair. He stated, "Minamata disease is not over yet. Problems have not been solved yet. I do not want to see any more children suffer like us." He implored delegates: "Please take appropriate control of mercury for future children. I need the whole world to avoid causing any more tragedy by mercury."
Today IPEN held a preparatory meeting in Geneva to prepare for the week ahead. IPEN Heavy Metals Working Group Co-Chair Gilbert Kuepouo (CREPD, Cameroon) and IPEN Mercury Policy Advisor Lee Bell chaired the meeting, which addressed updates since the COP2 meeting last year, as well as the schedule for the COP3. The COP3 begins on 25 November, after technical briefings on 24 November.
20 November, 2019
IPEN will host a side event on 26 November in Geneva entitled: "Mercury Contaminated Sites: guidance, finance and the challenges of ASGM sites." IPEN Mercury Policy Advisor Lee Bell will be joined by Yuyun Ismawati (Nexus3, Indonesia, and IPEN Lead on ASGM) and Griffins Ochieng (CEJAD, Kenya) to talk about the opportunities and challenges presented by mercury-contaminated sites and the importance of addressing them to address global mercury pollution. See the flyer here.
Mercury waste thresholds and definitions will be key issues for COP3 as they will define what ‘mercury waste’ is under the treaty and what waste will therefore be subject to Convention requirements. If threshold concentrations are set high, large quantities of mercury waste will escape sound management.
IPEN believes that concentrations should be set at a maximum of 1 mg/kg in order to be health and environment protective.
Learn why, as well as what types of mercury waste should be subject to threshold concentrations, in IPEN’s brief here.
The Conference of the Parties (COP) is required to review annexes A and B no later than five years after the date of entry into force of the Convention. A draft decision at COP3 will propose to establish an ad hoc group of experts made up of 20 party representatives and 10 observers nominated from NGO and other organizations. This group will review Annex A and B and consider any submissions from parties to change the annexes. IPEN supports the establishment of the expert committee and the review process.
Amendment to Annex A: The African Region is proposing to move dental amalgam from Part II to Part I of Annex A, which would effectively move dental amalgam from a long term ‘phase-down’ to a short term ‘phase-out’ by 2021. IPEN supports the adoption of the African regional proposal at COP 3.
Amendment to Annex B: The ancient process of “fire gilding” was used to impart a thin gold plating to lower-value metals by mixing a blend of gold powder with elemental mercury and applying the paste to the object. The object would then be “fired” by placing it in a fire or extremely hot oven or kiln where the mercury vaporized, leaving a bright gold plating on the object, but also potentially a significant exposure issue for workers and the public near plating facilities. IPEN supports the addition of fire gilding/mercury gold plating to Annex B of the mercury treaty as soon as possible to reduce the massive emissions and releases caused by this process.
For more details about these points, read the entire brief here.
Decision MC-2/8 on Contaminated Sites invites parties to continue to comment on the guidance being developed for adoption at COP3 during the intersessional period. There has been extensive comment and revision of the guidance from the expert group, parties, and more. There is an urgency to adopt the guidance in order to allow many developing countries, especially those with ASGM activity, to take action to address contaminated sites to prevent exposure of populations and ecosystems to this toxic metal.
This document presents IPEN's views about some issues that will be addressed at the 3rd Conference of the Parties, including open burning, effectiveness evaluation, review of Annexes A & B, waste thresholds, contaminated sites, and more.
7 November, 2019
The Mercury Treaty's 3rd Conference of the Parties will be taking place 25 - 29 November, 2019 in Geneva, Swtizerland. Please check back soon for information about IPEN's participation in the conference.