The Geneva Environment Network’s weekly newsletter includes the latest information on the global environmental agenda, main eventsjob vacancies, learning opportunities, as well as other useful resources and updates. Stay tuned and follow us also on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, and Youtube, or visit our website regularly for additional updates.

Image of the week | During the 2023 edition of the World Resources Forum, this Lab session “Science-Policy Panel on Chemicals, Waste and Pollution Prevention: Linking Science and Action Using a Life-Cycle Approach” briefed the minerals and resources communities about the ongoing ad hoc open-ended working group (OEWG) process that aims to establish an independent, intergovernmental science-policy panel to contribute further to the sound management of chemicals and waste and to prevent pollution. © World Resources Forum, CICG, 6 September 2023.

Environment @ 54th session of the Human Rights Council

The 54th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC54) starts this week in Geneva and will consider various topics related to the environment over five weeks of deliberations. Contributions to the global environmental agenda will include:

Other events of particular interest this week include:

 Regular updates on key environmental issues at HRC54, side events, and further resources will be made available on our dedicated HRC54 and the environment webpage.

WTO Public Forum | It’s Time for Action for a Greener and More Sustainable Future

The 2023 World Trade Organization Public Forum, held under the theme “It’s Time For Action”, will take place from 12 to 15 September at the WTO Headquarters, to examine how trade can contribute to a greener and more sustainable future. The Forum will explore how trade can facilitate access to environmental goods, services, and technologies, help achieve the Paris Agreement’s Nationally Determined Contributions, and maintain the ambition to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels.

Among the numerous topics to be addressed at the 134 session of the Forum, fisheries subsidies will feature in two side events, respectively on Including People and Fish – Sustainable Trade and Targeting Unsustainable Subsidies and Ending Harmful Fisheries Subsidies: From Commitment to Reality, both taking place on 13 September 2023. A year after the adoption of the landmark Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies in June 2022, a total of 17 WTO members have now deposited their “instrument of acceptance”, nearly 40% of the acceptances needed for the Agreement to enter into force, while two-thirds are necessary for the entry into force of the agreement.

In the margins of the WTO Public Forum, the Geneva Trade Platform, supported by the Geneva Graduate Institute, will host the Geneva Trade Week from 11 to 14 September 2023. The multiple events, receptions, meetings, and webinars will address themes such as breaking silos and bringing the trade policy community closer together with those working on environment, health, and labor. The opening plenary organized by the Forum on Trade, Environment and the SDGs (TESS) will discuss “The Role of Trade & Trade Policy in Advancing Action on the SDGs: How to Boost Coherence and Cooperation?” → Consult the Geneva Trade Week Agenda and register for the various sessions.

Draft Text for a Binding Instrument on Plastic Pollution

With just two months before the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution meets for its third session in Nairobi, the Chair of the process, H.E. Amb. Gustavo Adolfo Meza-Cuadra Velasquez of Peru, released last week, with the support of the secretariat, the Zero Draft text of the international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment. The document requested by INC-2 in May 2023, is guided by the views expressed at the first sessions to facilitate discussions at INC-3.

The INC Secretariat is supporting Member States and stakeholders in the preparations with the organization of webinars and the release of documents, which include:

  • Scenario Note document (UNEP/PP/INC.3/2) detailing modalities, organizational matters, potential outcomes of the sessions, and more.
  • INC webinar “Identifying chemicals and polymers of concern“, to be held on 12 September, to inform on chemicals covered by existing conventions and national regulatory frameworks, and examples of relevant criteria and approaches adopted in national regulations to address chemicals and polymers of concern.

Stay informed on the latest updates and upcoming preparatory sessions ahead of INC-3. → Towards Plastic Pollution INC-3

Hottest Three Months on Record While Window to Reach Climate Goals ‘Rapidly Closing’

Our planet has experienced a record summer of global warming in the northern hemisphere, with the hottest August on record, and the second hottest ever month after July 2023. In June, we were faced with the hottest three-month period ever, according to the European Union Copernicus Climate Change Service and WMO. Observed impacts of the extreme temperatures and events recorded this season include:

  • Air Quality | According to the September 2023 WMO Air Quality and Climate Bulletin, climate change-led increasing heatwaves, compounded by wildfires and desert dust, are having a measurable impact on air quality, human health, and the environment.
  • Warming Ocean | During August, sea surface temperatures recorded the highest global monthly average of 20.98°C. Ocean scientists investigated the causes and impacts of the multiple and record-breaking marine heatwaves. While causing important stresses to various species and ecosystems, marine heatwaves are an important source for developing tropical cyclones and stronger storms.
  • Melting Glaciers | Glamos, the Glacier Monitoring in Switzerland initiative, reported the dire situation of Swiss Glaciers throughout the unprecedented hot summer and recently reported the occurrence of a new phenomenon: massive rain eroded the thick moraine debris previously covering and protecting old dead ice. It is now exposed at surprising locations around Vadret Pers, Eastern Switzerland, and is quickly melting.

While 2023 is in line to be the second hottest year on record after 2016, a synthesis report released by UNFCCC last Friday warned that the world is not on track to meet the long-term goals set out in the Paris Agreement for limiting global temperature rise, calling for a commitment to decisive action. This echoes the statement of UN Secretary-General António Guterres earlier last week, “Surging temperatures demand a surge in action. Leaders must turn up the heat now for climate solutions. We can still avoid the worst of climate chaos – and we don’t have a moment to lose.” The 2023 edition of the United in Science report to be launched this week, will focus on sustainable development goals and climate change, should also highlight these messages.

→ Consult our update on Weather and Climate Extreme Events in a Changing Climate for further information, news, and the role of Geneva.

Cluster Munitions and the Environment

The Convention on Cluster Munitions, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs are co-organizing this Wednesday the event Cluster Munitions Contamination: Impact on the economic social and cultural rights of affected communities and on the environment. The session will address the impact of cluster munition contamination on the economic, social, and cultural rights of affected communities and on their livelihoods when used in agricultural areas. The event will also discuss case studies on the safe disposal of cluster munitions and present mine action surveys that address climate and environmental considerations. → Register to participate in the event taking place on 13 September 2023 in Palais des Nations, Room XXVII from 14:00 to 15:00 CEST.

Happening Abroad

International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea | Public hearings on Request for an Advisory Opinion submitted by the Commission of Small Island States on Climate Change and International Law, the first to occur on the topic of climate justice at an international tribunal, takes place for two and a half weeks. Legal experts will present arguments to inform ongoing work regarding States’ responsibility in the context of climate change.

Global Week to #Act4SDGs | The 2023 Global Week to #Act4SDGs mobilization will take place from 15 to 25 September as world leaders gather at the United Nations General Assembly for the UN SDG Summit. To mark the midway point of achieving the SDG Agenda, the Week will focus on Climate, Peace and Justice, Sustainable Food Systems, Gender Equality, and Inclusion.

SDG Action Weekend | To maximize the SDG Summit’s impact, the UN Secretary-General is convening an SDG Action Weekend on 16-17 September, which will generate opportunities for stakeholders, UN entities, and Member States to convene inside the United Nations Headquarters in New York and set out specific commitments and contributions to drive SDG transformation between now and 2030.

What (Else) to Read Next?

  • G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration | G20 Leaders | 10 September 2023
    Leaders of the G20 met in New Delhi on 9-10 September 2023, agreeing in a Declaration to commit to concrete actions to address global challenges, embracing the philosophy of living in harmony with the surrounding ecosystem. The group reaffirmed that no country should have to choose between fighting poverty and fighting for our planet, and should pursue development models that implement sustainable, inclusive and just transitions globally, while leaving no one behind.
  • UNEP Marine Sand Watch reveals massive extraction in the world’s oceans | UNEP | 5 September 2023
    The first-ever global data platform on sand and other sediment extraction in the marine environment finds that the marine dredging industry is digging up 6 billion tons per year, the equivalent of more than 1 million dump trucks per day. This is significantly impacting biodiversity and coastal communities.
  • AI’s impact on environment | Digital Watch | 4 September 
    Training AI models requires significant energy consumption and emits large amounts of carbon emissions. However, there are differing opinions on whether AI’s environmental impact can be mitigated.
  • A Zero Waste Vision for Fashion – Chapter 1: All We Need Is Less | Zero Waste Europe | 4 September 2023
    Without a shift to sufficiency in the fashion sector, the industry is on track to exceed planetary boundaries.This paper serves as the inaugural chapter in a two-part series exploring fashion and textiles along the entire value chain. The subsequent chapter will delve into circularity, covering optimal design, use, reuse, recycling, and end-of-life treatment of garments.
  • State of the Climate in Africa 2022 | WMO | 4 September 2023
    The State of the Climate in Africa 2022 report shows that the rate of temperature increase in Africa has accelerated in recent decades, with weather- and climate-related hazards becoming more severe. And yet financing for climate adaptation is only a drop in the ocean of what is needed.
  • IPBES Invasive Alien Species Assessment | IPBES | 4 September 2023
    The severe global threat posed by invasive alien species is underappreciated, underestimated, and often unacknowledged. According to a major new report by the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), more than 37,000 alien species have been introduced by many human activities to regions and biomes around the world. This conservative estimate is now rising at unprecedented rates.
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Geneva Trade Week 2023

11 – 14 Sep 2023

Maison de la Paix and Online | Zoom


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20 Feb 2024

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