COP-5 of the Minamata Convention on Mercury

The fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP-5) of the Minamata Convention on Mercury held in Geneva, Switzerland from October 30 to November 3, 2023. While commemorating the tenth anniversary of the Convention, the parties also considered decisions that will define success in its second decade. Parties agreed to update Annexes A and B of the Convention to list phaseout dates for certain types of batteries, switches and relays, fluorescent lamps, and cosmetics, and mandate the phaseout of mercury as a catalyst in polyurethane production by 2025. They also agreed on language declaring mercury-free processes for production of sodium or potassium methylate or ethylate to be technically and economically feasible. However, efforts by the African Group and other parties to agree on a phaseout of dental amalgam, which is still widely used for dental fillings, did not achieve consensus. The final decision only requires parties that have not yet phased out dental amalgam to report on how they plan to do so. A decision on mercury waste thresholds means that countries have a fixed standard now for measuring whether imports and exports contaminated with mercury contain more than the allowed total concentration value of 15 mg/kg. This is important for countries who fear becoming global dumping grounds for mercury-contaminated wastes, as it gives an international standard for deciding whether a shipment should be blocked. It also means that producer It also means that prod ucer nations now have a benchmark for blocking exports of mercury-contaminated waste. Parties also agreed on the composition of the Open-Ended Scientific Group for the first effectiveness evaluation of the Convention. AWHHE representative participated at the COP-5 with a team of international NGOs including International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), Zero Mercury Working Group (ZMWG) and World Alliance for Mercury-free Dentistry. She delivered a statement on gender mainstreaming on behalf of the Zero Mercury Working Group.