The fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP-5) took place in Geneva from 30 October to 3 November 2023. As part of the preparation for the meeting, online events took place from 9 to 13 October 2023, the week marking the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Minamata Convention, on 10 October 2013.
Press Conferences & Releases
- Minamata Convention COP-5 takes crucial steps in its mission of eliminating mercury pollution | 4 November 2023
- Summary report, 30 October – 3 November 2023 | IISD Earth Negotiations Bulletin | 3 November 2023
- Video: Day 5 of the Minamata COP-5 | 3 November 2023
- Video: Day 4 of the Minamata COP-5 | 2 November 2023
- Video: Day 3 of the Minamata COP-5 | 1 November 2023
- Video: Day 2 of the Minamata COP-5 | 31 October 2023
- Video: Day 1 of the Minamata COP-5 | 30 October 2023
- Minamata Convention COP-5 highlights the need for urgent action to make mercury history | Minamata Convention Press Release| 30 October 2023
10 Years Since the Adoption of the Minamata Convention
The Minamata Convention draws attention to a global and ubiquitous metal that, while naturally occurring, has broad uses in everyday objects and is released to the atmosphere, soil, and water from a variety of sources.
Delegates successfully completed the negotiation of a new global treaty on mercury – the Minamata Convention on Mercury – in January 2013, at the International Conference Center of Geneva. This deal, that has been hailed as a triumph of international diplomacy, was then adopted at a diplomatic conference hosted by Japan, on 10-11 October 2013 at Kumamoto City.
The Convention entered into force in August 2017, and today, 147 parties have ratified the agreement, which calls for countries to phase out mercury use in products, ban the opening of new mercury mines and limit the emission of mercury into the environment. Controlling the anthropogenic releases of mercury throughout its lifecycle has been indeed a key factor in shaping the obligations under the Convention.
As the Convention enters its second decade, experts are buoyed by the progress of recent years. The trade in mercury has slowed, manufacturers have begun finding alternatives to mercury in a range of products, and public awareness about the dangers of mercury has grown.
Various activities have been planned to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Convention, including the launch of the Anniversary video documentary.
5th Meeting of the Conferences of the Parties
The Minamata Convention gathered for its fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties in Geneva, from 30 October to 3 November 2023. All official information related to the event is published on the Convention’s website in a special section dedicated to COP-5.
What to Expect From Minamata COP-5
More than eight hundred participants – including Parties’ representatives, non-parties governments, intergovernmental organizations, UN bodies, and NGOs – are already confirmed to attend the meeting. → Find the highlights of the Conference, including on matters the COP will decide on in the official press release.
For a deeper dive into the media-related aspects of COP-5 and the Minamata Convention, including the topics, events, key dates of the meeting, and the 10th anniversary of the treaty’s adoption, you may consult the media advisory and watch the press conference.
COP-5 main agenda items will focus on:
- Phase-out dates for mercury-added products and the availability of non-mercury alternatives for two industrial processes, including amendment proposals from the Africa Region, including additional lighting categories for the complete phase-out of all fluorescent lamps, further measures and elimination of 1ppm threshold for skin lightening products, and a 2030 phase-out date for dental amalgam.
- Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) remains the largest source of mercury use and emissions globally. The COP recalls the relevance of engaging Indigenous peoples as well as local communities in the work to reduce and eliminate mercury use on this informal sector including in development and implementation of National Action Plans. These measures are vital to protect human health (including women and children) from mercury.
- Mercury use in ASGM impacts biodiversity and ecosystem services. The recent adoption of the Global Biodiversity Framework was a major milestone for the world and the Minamata Convention. The Secretariat has identified activities to be carried out in the biennium regarding pollution reduction.
- Second review of the Convention’s financial mechanism (GEF and Specific International Programme). There is a need to increase efforts to augment funding in the Specific Trust Fund to continue its direct support to developing country parties in their implementation of the Convention.
- 95% of parties submitted their first full national reports on measures taken to implement the Convention at the national level. The Implementation and Compliance Committee examined issues based on such submissions and made recommendations to COP-5 relating to, inter alia, informal primary mercury mining, the identification of stocks, and exports which are not in compliance with the Convention.
- National reporting is expected to be an important input for indicators to monitor the effectiveness of the Convention. COP-5 will consider the end date of the first effectiveness evaluation, the establishment of the Effectiveness Evaluation Group to develop recommendations on how to improve the effectiveness of the Convention, and the adoption of indicators.
- Emissions, Releases, Waste: Mercury emissions into the air are the major pathway for global environmental impact. Many Parties are already taking the required measures in advance of deadlines put in the Convention, but they still have a great deal of implementation to undertake. For mercury releases to land and water, the COP will consider adopting draft guidance on BAT/BEP prepared by the Group of Technical Experts. Regarding waste, COP-5 is expected to adopt thresholds for mercury waste contaminated with mercury or mercury compounds.
- Gender, Knowledge Management: The COP will consider the Gender Action plan and a digital strategy to guide its work to better support parties in the implementation of the Convention.
- The Minamata Convention on Mercury is part of the global environmental agenda and contributes to addressing the triple planetary crises of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution. It cooperates with other international entities, particularly in the chemicals and waste cluster. The COP may welcome the opportunity for the Minamata Convention Secretariat to become an observer at the meetings of the UN Climate Change Conferences and the adoption of the Global Framework on Chemicals – For a planet free of harm from chemicals and waste.
Geneva Briefing on Minamata COP-5
The Minamata Convention on Mercury Secretariat and the Geneva Environment Network organized a briefing on 5 October 2023, to provide updates on preparations to Minamata COP-5 and the way forward.
Agenda of the Event | Tentative Schedule
COP-5 events are an informal platform for Parties and observers to share information and bring knowledge to advances in technology, research, and policy to the attention of Parties and to the global community that the Convention serves. Three types of COP-5 events are offered.
During the week of 9 to 13 October 2023, various online events took place virtually on WebEx. This week also marks the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Minamata Convention, on 10 October 2013. Consult over 20 one-hour events on their page.
Knowledge Lab Sessions
Knowledge Labs are 45-minute sessions conducted in an open space set-up, allowing for informal and interactive discussions between presenters and participants. These sessions aim to encourage the active exchange of knowledge, ideas, and experiences.
The sessions will take place at the COP-5 venue, during the lunch break (14:00 – 14:45 CET), from Tuesday, 31 October to Friday, 3 November. The topics and organizers can be seen from the schedule.
Special Events and Exhibition
Special events taking place during COP-5 include:
Minamata Film Screening | Minamata COP-5 Special Event
Sunday, 29 October | 18:15 – 21:00 CET | CICG
A special event screening the film Minamata — directed by Andrew Levitas and premiered at the 2020 Berlin International Film Festival — was organized by the Minamata Convention Secretariat and the Geneva Environment Network. The event, open to all, will be preceded by a light reception and a short panel discussion. The free screening took place on Sunday 29 October 2023 at CICG from 18:15 to 21:00 CET.
Minamata Convention: A Decade of Global Commitment to Make Mercury History | Minamata COP-5 Special Event
Monday, 30 October | 13:15 – 14:45 CET | CICG & YouTube
Through an interactive roundtable, this event co-organized by the Secretariat and the Geneva Environment Network will bring stakeholders together to share their views, provide insights into the Convention’s progress over the past ten years, and express their hopes for the future. It will feature diverse voices, including representatives from Parties, NGOs, financial mechanisms, Indigenous Peoples, and artists engaged in environmental causes, who will be invited to reflect on what the Convention means to them. → Rewatch the discussion on YouTube.
Mercury in Cosmetics – More than what meets the eye | Minamata COP-5 Special Event
Tuesday, 31 October | 13:15 – 14:45 CET | CICG
Co-organized by the Global Environment Facility and the UN Environment Programme, this event aims to reveal the negative effects of skin lightening that is often perpetuated by harmful cultural norms.
#MakeMercuryHistory Photo Exhibition
During the COP-5 week, participants can visit the #MakeMercuryHistory Photo Exhibition at CICG. This exhibition is part of the #MakeMercuryHistory Photo Contest 2022 that the Secretariat organized. Winners and the virtual photo exhibition were announced during World Environment Day and the virtual exhibition is accessible online.
Intersessional Work and Submissions for COP-5
The Conference of the Parties had its fourth meeting online from 1 to 5 November 2021 and in person from 21 to 25 March 2022 in Bali, Indonesia, and agreed on a number of action items. The Executive Secretary sent a letter to Parties and observers on 13 April 2022 to call for information to follow up on these action items. On 8 August 2023, the Minamata Secretariat informed of the progress of the intersessional work for the fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention (COP-5) in a note.
Regional Preparatory Meetings
- Asia-Pacific | 5-6 September 2023 | Bangkok, Thailand
- Africa | 12-13 September 2023 | Nairobi, Kenya
- Eastern and European States | 18-19 September 2023 | Yerevan, Armenia
- Latin America and the Caribbean (GRULAC) | 5-6 October 2023 | Brasilia, Brazil
Minamata Online Season 3 | Phase III
- Briefing on COP-5 Documents (Day 1) | 30 August 2023 | 13:00 – 14:30 CEST
- Briefing on COP-5 Documents (Day 2) | 31 August 2023 | 13:00 – 14:30 CEST
- Financial Resources and Mechanisms | 8 September 2023 | 13:00 – 13:45 CEST
- National Reporting | 8 September 2023 | 14:00 – 14:45 CEST
- Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) | 14 September 2023 | 13:00 – 13:45 CEST
- Effectiveness Evaluation | 14 September 2023 | 14:00 – 14:45 CEST
- Program of Work and Budget (Closed Session) | 11 October 2023 | 14:00 – 14:45 CEST
Greening the COP
COP-5 will be conducted in accordance with the Secretariat’s environmental sustainability efforts. A number of measures will be put in place to reduce the environmental impact of COP-5 and offset unavoidable greenhouse gas emissions related to it. The Secretariat will work with the Geneva International Conference Centre (CICG) on measures to reduce the environmental impact of its services.
Sustainability measures that will be adopted by the Minamata Convention Secretariat
- Reducing wastes: COP-5 will aim at reducing wastes at the meeting venue, in collaboration with CICG and catering services. Participants are strongly encouraged to bring refillable drinking containers (cups, mugs, bottles) to be used at the cafeteria and hydration stations located throughout the venue.
- Paperless meeting: COP-5 will be paperless. Paperless means making all meeting documents, including in-session documents available to participants through the Convention website in a user-friendly way. Participants are encouraged to bring laptops or iPads, as all documents will be made available online and device charging will be available. No hard copies will be provided.
Suggested actions to support greening COP-5
Participants who organize their own travel to and from Geneva are encouraged to take the following actions:
- Calculate the CO2 emissions related to their travels, using the ICAO flight emissions calculator;
- Offset their emissions, using the United Nations carbon offset platform and sending a copy of the attestation to the Secretariat at email@example.com to help track progress in achieving climate neutrality of COP-5;
- Replace short flights with rail trips, where possible;
- Opt for direct routes that avoid additional emissions associated with multiple take-offs and landings;
- Voluntarily lower the flight class to avoid the higher footprint of business class trips;
- Use sustainable transportation, including buses, biking, walking, or carpooling for local trips where possible;
- Shift meals to plant-based, locally produced, in-season, or eco-certified alternatives where possible;
- Seek out accommodations that have a green guest program or have earned an eco-certification;
- Stay at accommodations that are within walking distance of the meeting venue;
- Reduce food waste and other waste;
- Participate in the venue’s recycling program.
Geneva Environment Network @ Minamata COP-5
The Geneva Environment Network is also taking part in Minamata COP-5. Visit the stand featuring the role of Geneva in tackling the pollution crisis. Take part or revisit events co-organized by the Geneva Environment Network:
Arranged in reverse chronological order.
31 October 2023 | United Nations Environment Programme
Minamata Convention: A Decade of Global Commitment to Make Mercury History | Minamata COP-5 Special Event
30 October 2023 | Minamata Convention on Mercury and Geneva Environment Network
29 October 2023 | Minamata Convention on Mercury and Geneva Environment Network
11 October 2023 | United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, International Labour Organization, United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council, Geneva Environment Network
Catalyzing Project Impact and Visibility Through Knowledge-Driven Capacity-Building | Minamata COP-5 Online Event
10 October 2023 | Minamata Convention on Mercury, Geneva Environment Network
Science-Policy Panel on Chemicals, Waste and Pollution Prevention: Building the Linkages from Science to Action | Minamata COP-5 Online Event / Road to OEWG 2 Series
9 October 2023 | Ad hoc open-ended working group on a science-policy panel on chemicals, waste and pollution prevention, Geneva Environment Network
Introductory Course to the Minamata Convention on Mercury
Who to Follow on Twitter
- Minamata Convention | @minamataMEA
- IISD Earth Negotiations Bulletin | @IISD_ENB
- planetGOLD Programme | @planetGOLD_org
- IPEN | @ToxicsFree
- Center for International Environmental Law | @ciel_tweets
- Monika Stankiewicz | @MonikaStankiew3
- Elena Lymberidi | @Zero_Mercury
- David Azoulay | @Davzoul
- Andrés Del Castillo | @andresdelcas
Photos from the Minamata COP-5 are available on the official Minamata Convention Flickr account.