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 on X (Twitter)FacebookLinkedInInstagram, and Youtube, or visit our website regularly for additional updates. 

Image of the week | The Conservatory and Botanical Garden’s small plant market stock up on plants and seedlings, 9 May 2024, included in the selection of activities to enjoy a green spring in Geneva. © Conservatory and Botanical Garden, Diane Bacher et Anouchka Maeder

2024 Geneva Dialogues on Human Rights and Climate Change

The 2024 edition of the Geneva Dialogues on Human Rights and Climate Change, taking place this week, will build upon previous editions of the dialogues and deep dive into how Geneva-based human rights institutions can contribute to further advancing human rights-based climate action. Organized by the Center for International Environmental Law, the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, Earthjustice, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Geneva Office, and the Geneva Environment Network with the support of the Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, this year’s discussion will address States’ obligations to tackle climate impacts, mechanisms and approaches to address ongoing loss and damage, meaningful protection of environmental defenders in the context of climate conferences, and ongoing advisory opinion processes before international and regional courts. Leading experts, including the newly appointed UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change, Elisa Morgera, will explore how Geneva-based human rights mechanisms can inform the ongoing advisory opinions before international courts and tribunals, and how these mechanisms can build on the outcomes of such processes. → Register to attend in person on Tuesday 14 May 2024, from 14:00 to 17:00 CEST at Palais des Nations, Room III. The event will be followed by a light reception.

As the harmful effects of climate change undermine the full enjoyment and realization of all human rights and disproportionately affect those who are already in situations of vulnerability, stakeholders from International Geneva play a key role in addressing one of the greatest existential threats to the people and planet. → Learn more about the role of Geneva in advancing a human rights-based approach in climate action.

Towards a Science-Policy Panel to Contribute Further to the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste and to Prevent Pollution

In preparation to the third session ad hoc open-ended working group to prepare proposals for a science-policy panel to contribute further to the sound management of chemicals and waste and to prevent pollution (OEWG 3) that will convene in Geneva from 17 to 21 June 2024, the Secretariat of the ad hoc open-ended working group and the Geneva Environment Network are co-organizing the Road to OEWG 3 series of events to build bridges between and among stakeholders, and promote collaboration and knowledge sharing. This week, the next event of this series will offer a companion to a forthcoming information document (CWP/OEWG.3/INF/6) which provides an overview of the origins of the initiative, key milestones to date, and brief record of the ongoing negotiations towards the establishment of the panel, responding to the request advanced by the OEWG Bureau. → Register and join online on 16 April 2024 from 14:00 to 15:30 CEST.

Diplomatic Conference on Genetic Resources and Associated Traditional Knowledge

After over two decades of negotiations, Member States of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and stakeholders will convene for the final stage of negotiations of a proposed treaty relating to intellectual property, genetic resources and traditional knowledge associated with genetic resources. The Diplomatic Conference is taking place from 13 to 24 May 2024 at the WIPO’s headquarters.

Since the early 2000s, the Intergovernmental Committee on Intellectual Property and Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore (IGC) has been working on the relationship between intellectual property, traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions and genetic resources. Following the breakthrough in the negotiations in July 2022, Member States agreed to hold negotiations in 2024 starting with a Basic Proposal as basis. → Read the WIPO Press Release and the explainer to learn more and follow the Conference through the Webcast.

Devastating Floods in East Africa and Brazil

In the past weeks, record rainfall has hit East Africa and Brazil causing devastating floods, showing how human-induced greenhouse gas emissions combined with naturally-occurring meteorological phenomena cause direr extreme weather events.

  • According to the World Meteorological Organization, the situation in East Africa is an effect of the combined El Niño event, the Indian Ocean Dipole, high sea surface temperatures, and the excess energy trapped in the atmosphere and ocean due to human-induced greenhouse gases. Floods have caused an increasing number of casualties and displacement. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported numbers from the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, according to which, as of 3 May 2024, 637,000 people have been affected including 234,000 displaced across Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Ethiopia and Tanzania, with numbers keeping to rise.
  • In the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul, rainfall volumes have in some cases exceeded 300 millimetres in less than a week, several people have been confirmed dead, while multiple others are still missing and injured. Nearly 19,000 people have been made homeless, almost 116,000 displaced, and nearly 850,000 affected across 341 municipalities. The phenomenon has been influenced by El Niño and the higher temperature of the South Atlantic Ocean.

These events highlight the need for a more integrated response to El Niño and climate change impacts and Early Warnings For All, as also underlined in the recently launched WMO State of the Climate in Latin America and the Caribbean 2023. While confirming 2023 as the warmest year on record and the occurrence of various extreme weather events, the report highlights the need for more investment in National Meteorological and Hydrological Services in the Region to strengthen forecasts and life-saving early warnings. → Read WMO Press Release

What to Look Out for this Week to Enjoy a Green Spring

Next Monday, schools and a few international organizations will enjoy a long weekend on the occasion of the Pentecost holiday. Consult our Green Spring in Geneva page for ideas of activities to do both outdoors and indoors, including this week:

  • Banquets Urbains in Champel | Observing the tradition in place since the second half of the 19th century onwards of organizing open-air banquets in neighborhoods to commemorate historic events or people who played a key role in our history, Geneva Mayor Alfonso Gomez is reviving the tradition to highlight climate-related themes, and in particular food in a festive atmosphere. Join the one organized in the Champel neighborhood on Wednesday, 15 May from 11:30 CEST. 
  • Nature and Wellbeing | Don’t miss the last chance to visit the annual showcase hosted by the UN Women’s Guild that will take place in the Building E Mezzanine of the Palais des Nations showcasing artistic expressions related to nature and wellbeing. The exhibition will be open until 15 May 2024. → Register to participate
  • Et si nous mangions pour conserver la nature ? L’écologie par la fourchette ! | This lecture part of the CJBG “Conférences au vert” cycle, will host Xavier Poux to present the impact of our food system on ecosystems and how we can, through our choices, put our food at the service of agroecology. Join at the Conservatory and Botanical Garden on Thursday, 16 May 2024 from 19:30 to 21:00 CEST.
  • Conférences en mouvement et connectés | La montagne, territoire des | As part of the cycle of conferences with Olivier Vaucher, geographer, historian and artist, this lecture will discuss “Genevan mountaineering after 1940: conquering the peaks”. Join on Friday, 17 May 2024 from 14:00 CEST at the Centre Genève Montagne (Chemin des Érables 17-19, 1213 Petit-Lancy).
  • La ville est à vous | Voie-Creuse | La ville est à vous is a popular event taking place from May to October in various districts of the city of Geneva. Over the course of a weekend, the streets of a neighborhood become pedestrianized, host a garage sale and are transformed into a festive meeting place for neighbors, families, friends and strangers alike. Join this weekend the one taking place in Voie-Creuse on 19 and 20 May 2024.
  • Bike to Work Challenge 2024 | Jump on your bike as often as possible with your colleagues in May and June, and improve your fitness and team spirit while contributing to saving the environment. Become part of Switzerland’s largest bike and health promotion!

Happening Abroad

10th World Water Forum: Water for Shared Prosperity | The World Water Forum is one of the largest international gatherings among water sector-related stakeholders and is held every three years. Held under the theme, “Water for Shared Prosperity”, the 10th edition of the World Water Forum, taking place from 18 to 25 May 2024 in Bali, Indonesia, is expected to bring together 30,000 participants from 172 countries, including heads of state, the heads of international organizations, high-level government officials, experts, scholars, entrepreneurs and economists from all over the world to share their knowledge, experiences, and practices regarding a wide range of topics related to water.

26th meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA) of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) | The 26th meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice of the CBD is taking place from 13 to 18 May 2024 in Nairobi, Kenya. Ahead of the 16th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP16) taking place from 21 October to 1 November 2024 in Cali, Colombia, the meetings of the CBD’s subsidiary bodies will review steps needed to bring the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, including the scientific, technical, and technological aspects of biodiversity conservation, and the framework’s implementations. → Follow the live coverage by the IISD Earth Negotiations Bulletin.

What (Else) to Read Next?

  • Coverage of the 19th Session of the UN Forum on Forests (UNFF19) | IISD ENB | 10 May 2024
    UNFF19 adopted a high-level declaration signaling high-level commitment to forests going forward, and an omnibus resolution that included the Mid-Term Review of the effectiveness of the International Arrangement on Forests (IAF) and set the mandate for specific future actions by the UNFF and its stakeholders.
  • We asked 380 top climate scientists what they felt about the future… They are terrified, but determined to keep fighting. | The Guardian | 8 May 2024
    The task climate researchers have dedicated themselves to is to paint a picture of the possible worlds ahead. From experts in the atmosphere and oceans, energy and agriculture, economics and politics, the mood of almost all those the Guardian heard from was grim. And the future many painted was harrowing: famines, mass migration, conflict.
  • In Europe’s wild Carpathian Mountains, prospect of drought rises | UNEP | 8 May 2024
    The theme of this year’s World Environment Day on 5 June is land restoration, desertification and drought resilience. To find out what global warming is doing to the Carpathians, and how countries can preserve and restore one of Europe’s few truly wild areas, UNEP spoke with Harald Egerer, Head of UNEP Vienna Office and Secretary of the Carpathian Convention. 
  • Venezuela loses its last glacier as it shrinks down to an ice field | The Guardian | 8 May 2024
    Venezuela has lost its last remaining glacier after it shrunk so much that scientists reclassified it as an ice field. It is thought Venezuela is the first country to have lost all its glaciers in modern times.
  • Better production practices key to minimising impact of vegetable oils | IUCN | 7 May 2024
    The report “Exploring the future of vegetable oils” by the IUCN Oil Crops Taskforce assesses the future environmental, economic and social impact of the production, trade and the consumption of vegetable oils, and found that growing demand for vegetable oils could translate into the conversion of natural areas into farmland, negatively impacting global biodiversity. There is potential to limit harms to nature by improving production methods. 
  • UNECE experts advance work on improving modelling and mapping tools to assess the risks of air pollution on biodiversity | UNECE | 7 May 2024
    Ecosystems are highly sensitive to air pollution. To sharpen emissions reduction measures under the UNECE Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution, expert groups have started scientific and technical work to support decision-making in the context of the process to revise the Protocol to Abate Acidification, Eutrophication and Ground-Level Ozone (Gothenburg Protocol).
  • A Plastics Treaty is Really About Fossil Fuels | Global Policy | 7 May 2024
    A just transition will require a solid plastics treaty. COP28 reinforced the signals demonstrated within the Paris Agreement—we must phase down fossil fuels and strive for a more sustainable future. Rather than diversify energy investments to increase production of renewables and meet this unique energy-climate moment, fossil interests are perpetuating plastics.
  • Deep Sea Mining | UNEP | 6 May 2024
    Review of the latest literature on specific topics that are of relevance to UNEP’s mandate as outlined in “The future we want: outcome of the Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 20-22 June 2012; paragraph 88”. It also presents a set of agreed approaches and recommendations regarding UNEP’s communication of the subject matter.
  • Chemists can now separate four common plastics at once. Will it work as well outside their lab? | Environmental Health News | 6 May 2024
     A new study from scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory may have cracked the code to disassemble up to one-third of the world’s unrecyclable mixed plastics. Using a new organic catalyst, researchers designed a compound to separate four of the most used types of mixed plastics at a molecular level, even if they’re chemically bound together or contain trace amounts of impurities. If this chemical recycling process could be used commercially, the mountains of textiles, styrofoam, drink bottles, food wrappers, and more would become new revenue for waste management facilities while saving them hundreds of millions of dollars in dumping costs.
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Elisa Morgera

Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council