Minamata Convention sets up office in Geneva

Media release, 30.09.2017

Bern, 30.09.2017 - On 30 September 2017, the approximately 150 States meeting in Geneva for the first Conference of the Parties (COP1) to the Minamata Convention on Mercury decided to base the Convention in Geneva. “The arrival of the Secretariat of the Minamata Convention will be a boost for Geneva as center of the international environment governance,” said Marc Chardonnens, President of the COP and Director of the Federal Office for the Environment, welcoming the decision.

The decision to locate the Convention Secretariat in Geneva is an acknowledgement of both Switzerland's commitment to the establishment of an international agreement on mercury and of Geneva as a centre for environmental issues. The Minamata Convention, the establishment of which was initiated by Switzerland and Norway, was finalised in Geneva in 2013. Switzerland will continue to support the Minamata Convention, particularly with an annual host country contribution of one million Swiss francs.

Implementation of the Convention can begin

Taking stock of the conference, which came to a close on 30 September in Geneva, Marc Chardonnens noted that the decisions taken would enable the States to start to implement the Convention at national level. "The measures for reducing mercury emissions that pose a risk to health and the environment can begin," he said.

Several guidelines were adopted, in particular for the regulation of artisanal gold-mining and the reduction of mercury emissions in this sector. The States will receive support to enable them to gain a better understanding of the informal artisanal gold-mining sector and to make optimal use of the available state-of-the- art technology. Another guideline specifies how the atmospheric mercury emissions generated by coal-fired power plants, waste incineration plants and cement plants can be reduced. Work has also been initiated on evaluating the effectiveness of the Convention, this should contribute to improving its implementation at national level. 

Address for enquiries

Franz Perrez, Head of the International Affairs Division, FOEN, OFEV,
+41 79 251 90 15
Elisabeth Maret, Information Officer, FOEN, + 41 79 371 62 82