By: Ellen Czaika
In the plenary evening session, the chair solicited updates from each of the contact groups. The co-chairs reported some progress, although all of them requested further time to continue with the text. Around 7pm, Chair Lugris gave a deadline of 11pm, at which time he scheduled another plenary. At the request of a delegate, he accepted responsibility for compiling a draft text for the preamble.
Global Environmental Facility (GEF) CEO & Chairperson Dr. Naoko Ishii spoke about the willingness of the GEF to work with the resulting convention on mercury. She indicated that the GEF’s average time to approve a mercury related project is 34 days. She also indicated the GEF’s interest in engaging with the private sector in the form of Public Private Partnerships (PPPs), which she indicated goes along with the already strong public sector involvement in mercury issues.
Her remarks may ease the concerns of some delegates who fear that funding and assistance may be difficult to receive in practice. However, funding remains a debated issue, and the financial resources and technical assistance contact group met yesterday after her presentation to articulate broad ideas about the fund for implementing the convention. After more than 3 hours of open discussion, the co-chairs redrafted the Article. When the full contact group reconvened to evaluate the co-chairs’ text, a general consensus was reached that the funding mechanism should be the GEF, plus additional existing institutions.
However, several parties, including the US and Canada, expressed disappointment that their positions were not reflected in the text, and proposed significant new elements. Additionally, Brazil suggested adding text indicating that funds used for mercury treaty implementation should come from new GEF contributions. This will be untenable to the parties contributing to the GEF, and is being worked out by a select drafting group. Their draft text should be presented to the plenary soon.
In the contract group on selected technical articles, progress is being made, but discussion about Annex D, related to processes containing mercury, and Article 3 on Supply and Trade continued late into the night (or rather, into the early morning). The other articles from the contact group have been given to the legal group for a quick read-through before being presented for approval in today’s plenary.
The financial and technical assistance contact group sent their text to a working group and dissolved the contact group around 11pm. The emission and releases contact group, on the other hand, continued past midnight. Progress was made on the emissions issue, and the group applauded as their Annex F was deemed ready for release (their enthusiasm for progress may have been due to their all nighter the night before). The phrase “in the spirit of cooperation” became a common refrain as the emissions and releases contact group tackled the many brackets left in the article on releases to land and water.
The institutions and implementation group sent a clean text on health aspects to the legal group. This text is precedent-setting, because it specifically recognizes health in an environmental treaty in more than a preventive capacity, and calls for the promotion of activities like identifying vulnerable and affected populations, improving access to treatment, etc. Furthermore, it clarifies the treaty’s linkages to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).
In the 11pm plenary, the co-chairs for the contact groups reported on their progress. Chair Lugris extended the deadline for text until noon today, day 6, to accommodate the remaining work in the groups.
Working groups are currently presenting on their progress in the plenary session. Follow the discussion via our updates on twitter @MITmercury!
It’s a privilege to have watched / read about these proceedings and to know that “in the spirit of cooperation” was a guide for some. And talk about sleep deprivation …