Published on: March 29, 2022




COP-4 Minamata Convention on Mercury, took place in Bali, Indonesia recently


  • Resumed after the conclusion of the first online segment which was held in November 2021
  • Covered several crucial topics, like the framework to evaluate the Convention’s effectiveness
  • Annex A and B that contain information related to all mercury-added products, and their manufacturing processes were also reviewed
  • Decided to tackle the challenges of biodiversity loss, climate change, and waste and pollution
  • Phasing out of eight mercury-added products like cold cathode fluorescent lamps, compact fluorescent lamps, paper, photograph film, and propellant for satellites was listed
  • Bali Declaration was signed


  • Presented by Government of Indonesia and United Nations
  • Aim – Combating Global Illegal Trade of Mercury.
  • Declaration calls upon parties to:
    • Develop practical tools and notification and information-sharing systems for monitoring and managing trade in mercury
    • Exchange experiences and practices relating to combating illegal trade in mercury, including reducing the use of mercury in artisanal and small-scale gold mining
    • Share examples of national legislation and data and information related to such trade


  • Most recent global agreement on environment and health
  • Adopted in 2013 and entered into force on August 16, 2017.
  • A total of 137 parties have been working together to control the supply and trade of mercury, reduce the use, emissions, and release of mercury, raise public awareness and build necessary institutional capacity since 2017.
  • Highlights of the Minamata convention:
    • Ban on new mercury mines, the phase-out of existing ones
    • The phase-out and phase-down of mercury use in several products and processes
    • Control measures on emissions to air and on releases to land and water
    • The regulation of the informal sector of artisanal and small-scale gold mining.
    • The Convention also addresses interim storage of mercury and its disposal once it becomes waste, sites contaminated by mercury as well as health issues.


  • Naturally occurring element that can be found in the air, water, and soil.
  • Exposure to mercury – even small amounts – may cause major health problems, and is a threat to the development of a child in utero and early in life.
  • It is considered to have toxic effects on the nervous, digestive, and immune systems, as well as the lungs, kidneys, skin, and eyes.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) considers mercury as one of the top 10 chemicals or groups of chemicals of major public health concern.
  • People are more vulnerable to Minamata disease when they consume methylmercury (an organic compound) from fish and shellfish.
  • Minamata Disease: A methylmercury poisoning disorder that was first described in the inhabitants of the Minamata Bay, Japan, as a result of eating fish contaminated with mercury industrial waste.
  • Peripheral sensory loss, tremors, and hearing and visual loss are all characteristics of the disease.
  • Methylmercury is not the same as ethyl mercury. Ethyl mercury is used as a preservative in some vaccines and is not harmful to one’s health.
  • Sources
    • Natural sources include volcanic eruptions and ocean emissions.
    • Anthropogenic (produced by humans) emissions include mercury released from fuels or raw materials, as well as its utilization in products or industrial processes.
    • Artisanal and Small-Scale Gold Mining (ASGM) is the largest source of anthropogenic mercury emissions (37.7%), followed by stationary coal combustion (21 percent).
    • Nonferrous metals production (15%) and cement production (11 percent) are also major sources of emissions.
    • Globally, 10-20 million people are employed in the ASGM sector, with many of them using mercury on a daily basis.