Seventh session of the intergovernmental negotiating committee on mercury (INC 7)


#Minamata Convention #mercury #chemicals & waste #SDGs #sustainable development

The seventh session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to Prepare a Global Legally Binding Instrument on Mercury (INC7) convened from 10-15 March 2016 at the Dead Sea, Jordan. Over 300 participants attended the session, representing 103 governments, in addition to many non-governmental and intergovernmental organizations.

Mercury is a heavy metal that is widespread and persistent in the environment. It is a naturally occurring element and can be released into the air and water through the weathering of rock containing mercury ore or through human activities such as industrial processes, mining, deforestation, waste incineration and burning of fossil fuels. Mercury can also be released from a number of mercury-containing products, including dental amalgam, electrical applications (e.g. switches and fluorescent lamps), laboratory and medical instruments (e.g. clinical thermometers and barometers), batteries, seed dressings, antiseptic and antibacterial creams, and skin-lightening creams. Mercury exposure can affect fetal neurological development and has been linked to lowered fertility, brain and nerve damage, and heart disease in adults who have high levels of mercury in their blood.

The 25th session of UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC-25/GMEF) in 2009 agreed to further international action consisting of the elaboration of a legally-binding instrument on mercury, which could include both binding and voluntary approaches, together with interim activities, to reduce risks to human health and the environment. Decision GC 25/5 requested the UNEP Executive Director to convene an OEWG meeting in 2009, and an intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC) commencing its deliberations in 2010, with the goal of completing its work by GC-27/GMEF in February 2013.

In INC 5 (2013), delegates successfully completed the negotiation of a new global treaty: the Minamata Convention on Mercury, which was adopted on 10 October 2013, in Kumamoto, Japan.

It's the seventh session this year. Together with INC6, they are the negotiating sessions planned for the interim period between the adoption of the Minamata Convention and COP1. Delegates considered issues including, inter alia: procedures for export and import of mercury; operation of the financial mechanism; and draft rules of procedure and financial rules for the COP. They also discussed guidance on a range of issues, including on identification of stocks of mercury and mercury compounds and sources of supply, and best available techniques and best environmental practices for controlling emissions. INC7 provisionally adopted technical guidance documents related to emissions and on the identification of individual stocks of mercury and mercury compounds; and forwarded to the GEF Council a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Minamata Convention and the GEF Council, as well as its proposed guidance to the GEF on financing and activities related to implementation of the Convention.

Please refer to the official website and the Earth Negotiations Bulletin for more details.