Minamata Convention on Mercury COP1

September 24, 2017 to September 29, 2017

Minamata Convention on Mercury

COP1 Official website | GEF Report to COP1 | IISD coverage of COP1

Historic milestone reached in global fight against mercury pollution (press release)


The first meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP1) took place from 24 to 29 September 2017 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The Conference culminated in a High-Level Segment hosted by the President of Switzerland, entitled “Make Mercury History”, to celebrate the commitment of the international community to the Minamata Convention.

Learn more about GEF Work on Mercury

GEF side events at COP 1

Making Mercury History movie premiere, 27 September 2017 (Wednesday), 18:15, CICG, >>Download flyer

Solving the world’s biggest environmental problems from a cubicle in Washington D.C. is hard to do.  In the documentary film Make Mercury History, produced by the GEF and Arrowhead Films, an unassuming team of chemical experts shed their urban suits and head out to see where mercury is entering the environment and how it’s affecting people.  The half-hour film is shot on location in 5 countries where Anil Sookdeo and Evelyn Swain travel below ground where miners are using mercury and industrial sites where tons of mercury are emitted every day.  The team meets people who are using mercury, but, more importantly, they find others who are pioneering methods to eliminate the use of mercury in their mining operations, their power plants and industrial operations.

Making Mercury History begins with a touching story of seaside memorial in Minamata Japan where 3000 people were killed in the 1950’s because of mercury poisoning.  Naoko Ishi, the GEF Chairperson was born in Japan and the film ends with a powerful trip to the site where those who were affected are remembered.  The film is a sequel to Planet DeTox where Sookdeo and Swain travel to toxic chemical sites to tell the story of the work the GEF is doing to eradicate the Persistent Organic Pollutants (POP’s) from the planet.


GEF GOLD on the road to El Dorado - Making mercury history in Guyana and around the world:  A high level dialogue on ASGM28 September 2017 (Thursday), 13:30-14:45, CICG Room 2

COP 1 of the Minamata Convention marks a major milestone in combating global mercury pollution.  The theme of the COP is “Make Mercury History”. Although the GEF has supported mercury reduction projects on a small scale since GEF-3, GEF-6 (2014-2018) was the first large allocation for funding mercury projects since GEF has been included in the financial mechanism under the convention.    

Artisanal and small-scale gold mining (ASGM) is the largest anthropogenic source of mercury globally. Under the Minamata Convention on Mercury, Parties agreed to take steps to reduce, and where feasible eliminate, the use of mercury and mercury compounds from ASGM.  To address this sector, the GEF recently approved a $45 million global program, Global Opportunities for Long Term Development of the ASGM Sector (GEF GOLD).  The GEF GOLD Program covers eight countries in three of the largest ASGM regions, including Africa, Asia, and Latin America. 

The GEF GOLD program aims to reduce the use of mercury in the ASGM sector in the participating countries through facilitating access to finance to miners and mining communities for the introduction of low and non-mercury technologies and techniques.  It also connects mines to refiners and guaranteed off-takers in order to develop sustainable ASGM supply chains.

Through the GEF GOLD program, Conservation International (CI) is helping the Government of Guyana tackle this complex sector.  The project in Guyana will address environmental and social issues associated with ASGM, and also work with the private sector to create a market for the sustainably produced gold.  Guyana was the focal point in the 1500s for the search of the fabled “El Dorado”, and El Dorado remains associated with the country, which produces several El Dorado branded products such as the globally recognized El Dorado Rum.  This project will work to support this brand for responsibly produced gold.

During this side event, the President of Guyana, along with the CEOs of the GEF and CI, the private sector, and CSOs will discuss how the public and private sectors can come together to make mercury history in the ASGM sector.

Moderator: M. Sanjayan, Conservation International CEO

Introduction: Fernando Lugris, Ambassador of Uruguay


  • HE David Granger, President of Guyana
  • Naoko Ishii, GEF CEO
  • Private Sector Representative (TBD)
  • Representative from the Women Miners Association or Indigenous Group (TBD)


Launch of Local to Global Coalitions on Chemicals, Waste, and Mercury (hosted by GEF Small Grants Programme), 29 September 2017 (Friday), 13:15 - 14:45, CICG Room 2, >>Download flyer

This side event serves as a platform to launch the Local to Global Coalition on Chemicals, Waste, and Mercury Management, aimed to develop civil society organizations and local communities' capacity, awareness, and knowledge exchange on chemicals, waste, and mercury management, and discuss collaboration opportunities to promote effective implementation of the related conventions. 


  • Xiaofang Zhou, UNDP
  • Chiziru Aoki, GEF Secretariat
  • Rolph Payet, BRS Conventions (TBC)
  • Yoko Watanabe, GEF Small Grants Programme
  • Sulan Chen, GEF SGP
  • Bjorn Beeler, International POPs Elimination Network
  • Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Zero Mercury Working Grouop
  • George Ortsin, GEF SGP Ghana