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Image of the week | The last Chemicals and Waste Negotiations Briefing of the year reviewed the work of the chemicals and waste cluster in 2022, and presented the latest information on the important conferences scheduled in 2023, as well a follow-up on resolutions adopted at the UN Environment Assembly. © UNEP/GEN, Marina Garlatti, 7 December 2022.

The Future of Humanity’s Relationship with Nature

The UN Biodiversity Conference (CBD COP 15/CP-MOP 10/NP-MOP 4) kicked off last Tuesday, in Montreal, with key stakeholders stressing the urgency of the biodiversity crisis and vital importance of reaching an ambitious agreement.

This Conference is about the urgent task of making peace. Because today, we are out of harmony with nature. In fact, we are playing an entirely different song. Around the world, for hundreds of years, we have conducted a cacophony of chaos, played with instruments of destruction. […] This Conference is our chance to stop this orgy of destruction. To move from discord to harmony. And to apply the ambition and action the challenge demands. We need nothing less from this meeting than a bold post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

— UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, 6 December 2022

After the meeting of the Working Group, it is obvious that you all have much to say and are keen on ensuring that you find your voices in the final text of the post2020 global biodiversity framework. I implore you to find your ideas and voices in a text that reflects consensus, compromise, and ambition.

— Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity, 7 December 2022

The Conference was preceded by the fifth meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), with lengthy negotiations on various sections, goals, and targets of the draft GBF. As agreement was not found on several elements, negotiations will carry on in a contact group during the UN Biodiversity Conference. A non-negotiated, entirely bracketed non-paper on digital sequence information (DSI) was also forwarded to the Conference.

Human Rights

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights published an open letter calling for the right to a healthy environment to be explicitly referred within the principles and goals of the draft post-2020 GBF – as a matter of obligation, of policy coherence, and of effectiveness. The letter highlights 6 further priorities, including business accountability, participation and access to justice, the rights of Indigenous Peoples and local communities, gender equality, and human rights integration in resources mobilization, monitoring and implementation.

Human action has placed biodiversity – and those who depend on it – under unprecedented threat with little regard for human rights, pushing our planet to a catastrophic breaking point not just for humanity but for all life. Protecting nature is a  Human Rights imperative.

Human Rights are a catalyst for the changes needed to live in harmony with nature. I urge COP15 to refer explicitly to the right to a healthy environment – as a matter of obligation, policy coherence and effectiveness.

— Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, 4 December 2022 & 6 December 2022

The Issue Management Group on Human Rights and the Environment, established by the UN Environment Management Group and led by OHCHR, UNDP and UNEP, published key messages on the steps needed to advance a human rights-based approach to the GBF. Their conclusions echoes the statement from the High Commissioner. Read more →

The UN Special Rapporteurs on environment (David Boyd), Indigenous Peoples (Francisco Cali Tzay) and climate change (Ian Fry) also called on States to ensure that the post-2020 GBF is centred on human rights. Read more →

Decent Work in Nature-based Solutions

Launched at the Conference, the report, Decent Work in Nature-based Solutions, by ILO, IUCN and UNEP, underscores the need for a just transition – greening the economy in a way that is fair and inclusive, creating meaningful work opportunities and leaving no one behind. An additional 20 million jobs could be generated worldwide if investment in Nature-based Solutions were tripled by 2030.

More News on the UN Biodiversity Conference

More news about the UN Biodiversity Conference from a global and Geneva perspective:

The Conference is expected to conclude on Monday 19 December. →  Stay tuned with the Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage.

Moving Forward the Global Agenda to End Pollution

Global Workshop on Source-to-sea Management

This week, the Water Convention serviced by the UN Economic Commission for Europe is hosting a Global Workshop on Source-to-sea Management at Palais de Nations, from 14 to 16 December 2022. This workshop, organized in cooperation with various organizations, will share insights and best practices from a source-to-sea approach, which aims at bridging existing gaps by connecting the ecosystems’ management and tackling maritime pollution at the source, upstream.

Ending Plastic Pollution

Following the first session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop a legally binding instrument on plastic pollution (INC-1), organizations in Geneva and beyond are engaged in continuing discussions on solutions to address the plastic crisis and the opportunities provided by the negotiations.

Last week, discussions on plastic pollution returned to the World Trade Organization with the meeting of the Informal Dialogue on Plastics Pollution and Environmentally Sustainable Plastics Trade. The day before, WTO and UNCTAD co-hosted a workshop on sustainable and effective substitutes and alternatives for plastics.

The options for reducing pollution from packaging and developing reuse systems have also received renewed attention, with new reports last week, including:

Greening the Blue Report Launch | UN Walking the Talk

The 2022 edition of the Greening the Blue Report will be launched on Wednesday 14 December 2022. Numerous UN agencies and secretariats headquartered in Geneva have contributed to this annual report highlighting the environmental impacts of 307,000 personnel, in 53 reporting entities across Headquarters, field offices and operations on the ground. → Read more about how International Geneva is going green

The Greening the Blue initiative is managed by the UN Environment Programme Sustainable United Nations (SUN) Facility and aims to engage and support the UN System in the transition towards greater environmental sustainability in the management of its facilities and operations.

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