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

Image of the week | A snapshot of the Rhône in Chancy taken during the Day on Hiking Trails organized by the Canton of Geneva. The municipality of Chancy has an exceptional biodiversity in the region due to the presence of the Rhône, large forests, rare environments and a high-quality agricultural area. © UNEP/GEN, Pablo Arturo Lopez Guijosa, 7 May 2022.

Climate Action: Energy Transition and Fossil Fuel Subsidies Reform

The Global Annual to Decadal Climate Update, launched last week , issued a dire warning: there is a 50:50 chance of the annual average global temperature temporarily reaching 1.5 °C above the pre-industrial level for at least one of the next five years – and the likelihood is increasing with time. But this is not a game of heads or tails. “For as long as we continue to emit greenhouse gases, temperatures will continue to rise,” said WMO Secretary-General Prof. Petteri Taalas, highlighting the need to take swift climate mitigation action in order to remain within the goal of the Paris Agreement.

One of the key elements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and thus limit climate change is to effectively address fossil fuel subsidies. In June 2010, an informal group of non-G20 countries created the Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform (FFFSR) in order to build political consensus on the importance of fossil fuel subsidy reform. Such reform would indeed deliver trade, economic, social, and environmental benefits and release government funds to support green and climate-resilient investments. Building on that effort, the initiative renewed its statement in December 2021 and is now supported by 45 WTO members. With strong momentum on FFSR in both climate and trade negotiations in 2021, negotiators looked ahead to 2022 with a lot of promise for progress.

With pivotal meetings coming up in June – Stockholm+50, UNFCCC meetings, and WTO 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) – and in the context of intensifying pressure on many countries to diversify their energy supply following the geopolitical crisis in Ukraine, the discussion on fossil fuel subsidies is more than timely. Thus, FFFSR, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), and the Geneva Environment Network are hosting the hybrid session “Subsidizing Fossil Fuels in Times of High Energy Prices: Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform in Trade and Climate Discussions”. The event brings together trade and climate experts to outline how they look to address the energy pricing crisis strategically through various forums and collectively work to avoid the pressure to subsidize fossil fuels in the immediate term, while still maintaining momentum on FFSR and the clean energy transition in the longer term.  Register to join in person or online on Monday 16 May at 13.30 CEST.

This session is also registered as part of the OFF programme of the European Energy Transition Conference, a festival for the general public proposing over 170 events (workshops, exhibitions, visits, screenings, games, shows, concerts, etc.) in Geneva and the nearby French and Swiss regions.

Launch of the Geneva Blue Talks

In the run-up to the 2022 UN Ocean Conference, the Geneva Environment Network is launching, with Portugal and Kenya, the Geneva Blue Talks. The three sessions, scheduled on the last three Tuesdays of May, are an opportunity to discuss the core issues that will be addressed at the conference, highlighting the contributions of international Geneva to the global ocean agenda and engaging stakeholders from Geneva and beyond in the international processes on the ocean.

This week, the first session “Global Ocean and Coastal Observation: From Science to Decision to Making”, organized with WMO, UNEP/GRID-Geneva, GEO and IUCN, will discuss the importance of coordinated and sustained data sharing, as well as infrastructure for advancing research. Invited experts will present ongoing partnerships and projects to enhance ocean and coastal observations, and discuss gaps and needs to better support science-based decision-making. Register to join us in person at the International Environment House or online on Tuesday 17 May, at 15.00 CEST.

Preparing Negotiations to End Plastic Pollution

The UN Environment Assembly resolution to end plastic pollution adopted last March represents a new turning point from which much work has to be done to achieve the goal of ending plastic pollution. The resolution requests the convening of an intergovernmental negotiating committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment, during the second half of 2022, with the ambition of completing its work by the end of 2024. An ad-hoc open-ended working group will convene in Dakar, Senegal, from 30 May to 1 June 2022 to prepare for the work of the intergovernmental negotiating committee.

The Geneva Environment Network and partners are hosting a Briefing on the OEWG to End Plastic Pollution as part of the Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution Dialogues, supporting actors in the Geneva community and beyond, engaged in this process. Register to join us in person at the International Environment House or online on Thursday 19 May, at 13.00 CEST.

Further news and activities about plastic pollution:

  • New research published in Nature Reviews Earth & Environment confirmed the prevalence of atmospheric microplastics, as these particles can travel to every corner of the earth with the wind. The study includes suggestions to develop an global observation strategy for both marine and atmospheric plastic pollution, in order to support policy-making.
  • From climate to plastics, Big Oil faces a reckoning | Richard Wiles | The Hill | 11 May 2022
    It’s the subject of congressional investigations, state and municipal lawsuits, a new television documentary, as well as an upcoming Hollywood docu-drama: a series of lies told by one industry, with consequences so far-reaching that they have triggered a profound and existential crisis facing every person on Earth.
  • The Association pour la Sauvegarde du Léman is organizing its annual clean-up of the Leman Lake (Net’Leman) on 21-22 May. The initiative brings together volunteers of all ages and backgrounds, certified divers, paddlers, sailors and other stakeholders and residents, to preserve the beauty and health of Lake Geneva. During the previous edition in 2020, volunteers collected 640kg of various plastic waste, 1,550 PET bottles, and 36 car tires, as well as large amount of other waste such as cigarette butts and aluminum cans.

WTO Fish Week

The chair of the fisheries subsidies negotiations, Ambassador Santiago Wills of Colombia, is convening the “Fish Week”, providing members of the World Trade Organization an opportunity to work on finalizing the draft agreement to curb harmful fishing subsidies and put an end to the depletion of fish stocks worldwide. The negotiations are expected to conclude at the WTO Ministerial Conference, starting in less than one month.

Next week’s Geneva Blue Talk will provide an overview of the status of global fisheries, the role of subsidies, and the ongoing negotiations in the lead up as well to the UN Ocean Conference. Register to join us in person at the International Environment House or online at 15.00 CEST.

Celebrating Biodiversity and Bees

This year, the International Day for Biological Diversity, celebrated on 22 May, will focus on “Building a shared future for all life” to continue building momentum and support for the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, to be adopted at the upcoming UN Biodiversity Conference. As the world continues to grapple with the pandemic, the official commemorations will take place online. Several in-person activities are also taking place in Geneva and around the world, including the now traditional “Fête de la nature”. Find out more in our update.

This week, the international community also celebrates World Bee Day on 20 May, highlighting the fundamental role of pollinators for the survival of our ecosystems. This year’s theme is “Bee Engaged: Celebrating the diversity of bees and beekeeping systems”. Find out more in our update.

What (Else) Should I Read Next?

  • World “at a crossroads” in drought management, up 29% in a generation and worsening, says UN | UNCCD | 11 May 2022
    Drought in Numbers 2022, released on Drought Day calls for making a full global commitment to drought preparedness and resilience in all global regions a top priority. The reports aims to inform ongoing negotiations at the 15th session of the Conference of Parties (COP15) to the Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which kicked-off last Monday in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire under the theme of “Land, Life. Legacy: From scarcity to prosperity”. Visit also UNCCD COP15th Earth Negotiations Bulletin.
  • 8 preliminary key themes for my mandate | Ian Fry | 13 May 2022
    Ian Fry identified 8 key themes for his mandate as Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change.
  • Stockholm+50: what does it mean for global health? | Liz Willetts | The Lancet Planetary Health | May 2022
    As the Stockholm Declaration on the Human Environment turns 50, the role of the health stakeholder community in forward-looking environmental agendas is more important than ever.
  • Why ports are at the heart of sustainable development | UNCTAD | 13 May 2022
    How ports are managed has implications for economic growth, crisis response efforts, environmental protection and gender equality, placing them at the heart of sustainable development.
  • How Risks in Oil and Gas M&A Could Hamper the Energy Transition | EDF+Business | May 2022
    New research revealed that oil and gas mergers and acquisitions, which may help industry majors execute their energy transition plans, do not actually help cut global greenhouse gas emissions. Indeed, as assets are being transferred from operators with net-zero commitments to companies operating away from the public eye, there are raising concerns that emissions will continue, perhaps even at a greater rate.
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Body Meeting

Fish Week

16 – 20 May 2022

WTO & Online



38th UN/CEFACT Forum

16 – 20 May 2022

Virtual Meeting Palais des Nations



Fête de la Nature

18 – 22 May 2022

Various Locations

Association de la Fête de la Nature


Gouverner un monde toxique

19 May 2022 18:15 – 20:00

Uni Mail Salle M2140


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Secretary General

16 May 2022

Ramsar Convention

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20 May 2022

World Bee Day