The Geneva Environment Network’s weekly newsletter includes the latest information on the global environmental agenda, main events, job vacancies, learning opportunities, as well as other useful resources and updates. Stay tuned and follow us also on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Youtube, or visit our website regularly for additional updates.
Image of the week | Advancing a Human Rights-based Approach to Pollution for People and the Planet | BRS COPs 2023 Side Event, 10 May 2023. The event explored recent developments in the interconnectedness between human rights, a just transition, and the environment, and identified key entry points to strengthen a human rights-based approach to the implementation of the chemicals and waste conventions in the run-up to major related negotiations. Photo © Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions Secretariat.
2023 BRS COPs | Two Weeks of Intense Meetings To Accelerate Action
The 2023 meetings of the Conference of Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions held under the theme Accelerating action: Targets for the sound management of chemicals and waste wo weeks of intense discussions and high emotions. → Find out more in the daily coverage from the Earth Negotiation Bulletin and find other useful information in our update on the meetings.
The positive results achieved include the listing of three new chemicals (UV-328, Dechlorane Plus, methoxychlor) that pose significant health and environmental risks for elimination under the Stockholm Convention, during the first week. Outcomes and highlights from the second week of negotiations also include:
- Parties to the Basel Convention adopted technical guidelines on the environmentally sound management of plastic waste, POPs waste, and e-waste.
- Parties to the Stockholm Convention adopted a compliance mechanism, a decision outstanding since 2006.
- Countries have adopted a resource mobilization strategy to help raise resources on the scale needed to rise to the challenges of safely managing chemicals and waste.
- Parties to the Rotterdam Convention agreed to list terbufos, making it subject to Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure.
Analyses of the meetings issued the second week include:
- UN Chemicals & Waste Negotiations Make Key Advances, Delay Already Overdue Protections, and Offer Lessons for Future Plastics Treaty | CIEL | 12 May 2023
- More than 150 countries agree to ban 3 toxic chemicals | Joseph Winters | Grist | 11 May 2023
Reports issued during the two weeks included:
- Chemicals in Plastics – A Technical Report | UNEP and BRS
This report launched as an information document of the BRS COPs meeting has made the buzz. Unveiling, among other information, that at least 3,200 of the chemicals used in plastics have properties of concern, the report calls for urgent action to address chemicals in plastics as part of the global action on plastic pollution, to protect human health and the environment, and transition to a toxic-free and sustainable circular economy.
- PFAS in Selected Products in Indonesia | Nexus3 Foundation and IPEN
This study found the “Forever Chemicals” per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in synthetic clothing, food packaging, and other consumer products sold in Indonesia. The study found that 62% of Indonesian samples tested had high levels of PFAS, above the safety limits proposed in the EU for PFAS in consumer products.
- Tackling Toxics: Gender Dimensions of Chemicals and Waste Policies in Relation to BRS Conventions | WECF, Nexus3 Foundation, AEEFG and CEJAD
The scoping study “Gender, Chemicals and Waste” was carried out in Kenya and Tunisia between January and June 2022 on behalf of the BRS Conventions secretariat. The scoping study’s aim was to identify the gender dimensions of the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions as well as the Minamata Convention.
What’s Next | Various international processes on the International Environmental Negotiations Agenda that will hold their meetings in 2023 will play an important role in advancing the work towards the safe management of chemicals:
- The Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) will meet for its Fifth International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5) in Bonn, Germany, from 25 to 29 September 2023.
- The Fifth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP-5) will take place in Geneva, from 30 October to 3 November 2023.
- The Second session of the Ad hoc Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG 2) on a science-policy panel on chemicals, waste, and pollution prevention — to advance the work for developing a body to support UN agencies, MEAs, and other international instruments, countries, and the private sector in their work to take action on chemicals, waste, and pollution by providing authoritative, independent, credible, inclusive, policy-relevant scientific advice on issues — will be held in December 2023, in Jordan. The Road to OEWG 2 | Science-Policy Panel to Contribute Further to the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste and to Prevent Pollution / SPP-CWP Webinar Series co-organized with the Geneva Environment Network will follow the preparations to this meeting and aim at building bridges and promote collaboration and knowledge sharing between and among stakeholders, and raise public awareness about the OEWG.
2023 Geneva Dialogues on Human Rights and Climate Change
The 2023 edition of the Geneva Dialogues on Human Rights and Climate Change will convene this week at Palais des Nations. Leading experts will take stock of the relevant work that has been conducted so far by the Human Rights Council, the Special Procedures, the Universal Periodic Review, Human Rights Treaty Bodies, and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in identifying the rights that are affected in the context of climate change, as well as the relevant obligations of States. The dialogues will address existing gaps and potential next steps on five specific themes: addressing remedy in the context of Loss and Damage; supporting a just transition; opposing the expansion of fossil fuels; protecting civic space; and preventing further harm potentially caused by false solutions to climate change. The Dialogues are organized by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR), Earthjustice, and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Geneva Office, with the support of the Government of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and the Geneva Environment Network. → Watch live the event taking place on 17 May 2023 from 14:00 to 18:00 PM CEST.
Countdown to World Environment Day
This year marks the 50th anniversary of World Environment Day, which will focus on solutions to plastic pollution, a major contributor to the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution. Since its first celebration in 1973, the day has been an occasion to raise awareness of environmental problems and to call for collaborative action across actors around the world.
Building on the landmark resolution to develop a legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution and other multilateral negotiations, and on discussions in international Geneva addressing plastics on the environmental agenda, the Geneva Environment Network is organizing a high-level dialogue to celebrate the day. The event will highlight efforts and progress undertaken by actors in Geneva to beat plastic pollution, including through the Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution Dialogues. Leading diplomats and international experts taking the floor at this event will highlight how the international Geneva multilateral diplomacy system, with its numerous intergovernmental organizations, permanent governmental missions, NGOs, platforms, academic institutions, and other stakeholders, is engaged in finding solutions to beat plastic pollution. The high-level dialogue will be followed by a reception offered by the Swiss Government and local authorities. → Learn more and register to attend the event in person on 5 June 2023 from 11:00 CEST.
First Global Consultation on Nature-based Solutions
The First Global Consultation meeting in the series of intergovernmental consultations on nature-based solutions will be a virtual meeting to take place online from 16 – 17 May 2023. Following the adoption of resolution 5/5 Nature-based-Solutions for supporting sustainable development at the United Nations Environment Assembly Resolution in March 2022, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme has been requested to convene Intergovernmental Consultations on Nature-based Solutions. → More information on the mandate of the consultations can be found in the background paper.
Green Spring | Fête de la Nature, Walking the Talk & More
This week, the Ascension will allow some to enjoy a long weekend. Various interesting events are taking place around Geneva which will allow you to enjoy a green spring, including:
- Feu Ô Lac | The City and Canton of Geneva are organizing a three-day-long celebration around the lake.
- Fête de la Nature 2023 | Celebrated under the theme ‘Safe Waters’, more than 300 activities around nature will take place from 18 to 28 May 2023.
- Walk the Talk: Health for All Challenge | Get ready for the 4th edition returning on Sunday, 21 May 2023 to provide a healthy kick-start to the Seventy-sixth World Health Assembly.
Taking Place Abroad
- High-Level Meeting on the Midterm Review of the Sendai Framework | From 17 to 19 May 2023, world leaders will meet at the UN Headquarters in New York to review progress, stumbles, and best practices in achieving the Sendai Framework’s goals of preventing and reducing disaster risk — all against a backdrop of dire human, environmental, and economic impacts.
What (Else) to Read Next?
- Decent Work in the Circular Economy: An Overview of the Existing Evidence Base | Circle Economy, ILO, Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE) / World Bank | May 2023
The first output of the broader ‘Jobs in the Circular Economy’ initiative, released at an event last week, calls to action to realize the full potential of the circular economy by generating better evidence in three areas: More in-depth and inclusive research on decent work and the circular economy; global and social justice-led research and policies; joint advocacy and data partnerships.
- Technology cannot fix this: To stay within planetary boundaries, plastic growth must be tackled | Patricia Villarrubia-Gomez, Bethanie Carney Almroth, et al. | May 2023
Dealing with plastics pollution as a novel entity within the planetary boundaries framework needs to consider the entirety of the plastics life cycle, from resource extraction to impacts on earth system processes.
- Canada: extreme ‘heat dome’ temperatures set to worsen wildfires | Leyland Cecco | The Guardian | 12 May 2023
Western Canada is bracing for a “heat dome” weather system that will push temperatures to new records over the weekend, and is likely to worsen wildfires that have already displaced tens of thousands of residents.
- High Levels of Microplastics in the Arctic Sea Ice Alga Melosira arctica, a Vector to Ice-Associated and Benthic Food Webs| Deonie Allen, Melanie Bergmann and Steve Allen | 11 May 2023
The high concentrations of microplastics found in a pilot study suggest that M. arctica could trap microplastics from melting ice and ambient seawater.
- Leader of Kenyan waste pickers: ‘We are the backbone of recycling’ | The Guardian | 12 May 2023
John Chweya leads the waste pickers’ association of Kenya, representing 36,000 collectors, and has been instrumental in pushing countries to recognize the world’s 20 million waste pickers in the treaty. He wants justice for collectors, healthcare, a proper income, and better working conditions, to be included in the treaty. Read also the Inclusion of the Informal Recycling Sector in a Global Agreement on Plastic Pollution by IKHAPP.
- 4 Things to Know from the First Meeting on the Loss and Damage Fund | Climate Analytics | 10 May 2023
In recent weeks, the body charged with setting up the new loss and damage fund – the Transitional Committee – held its first mandated workshop in Bonn, Germany to gather inputs on how the fund and new funding arrangements should operate.
- COP28 President Al Jaber Calls for End of ‘Fossil Fuel Emissions’ | Bloomberg | 2 May 2023
COP28 President Sultan Al Jaber said climate diplomacy should focus on phasing out emissions from oil and gas, leaving the door open for the continued use of fossil fuels while ramping up technologies to capture the carbon pollution produced by burning them.
- UN Secretary-General’s Report Outlines Rescue Plan for People and Planet | IISD Knowledge Hub | 26 April 2023
Produced at the mid-way point towards 2030, the report warns that “many of the SDGs are moderately to severely off track” and offers five recommendations to “rescue” the Goals by the 2030 deadline. The report calls on world leaders to come together at the SDG Summit and “deliver a Rescue Plan for People and Planet”.
10 Mar – 15 Jun 2023
16 May 2023 11:30
Palais des Nations, Building H
FAO, Slovenia, Switzerland, UNOG
16 May 2023 16:15 – 18:00
Maison de la Paix (Room S5)
17 May 2023 10:00 – 12:00
Palais des Nations & Online
EMG Nexus Dialogues on Sustainable Consumption and Production | Digitalisation for Circular Economy and Green Jobs for Youth
17 May 2023 13:30 – 17:30
ILO & Online | Zoom
17 May 2023 14:00 – 18:00
Palais des Nations, Room XXII & Online | Webex
OHCHR, CIEL, Earthjustice, FES, Luxembourg, GEN
18 – 28 May 2023
Association de la Fête de la Nature
18 May 2023
Parc des Cropettes
Impact Hub Geneva
20 May 2023
16 May 2023
16 May 2023
17 May 2023
17 May 2023
26 Jun 2023
17 May 2023
Minamata Convention on Mercury
17 May 2023
26 Jun 2023
18 May 2023
Swiss Climate Sustainable Business
18 May 2023
19 May 2023
21 May 2023