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

The Palais des Nations and the International Environment House I will be closed from Wednesday, 20 December 2023 to Sunday, 7 January 2024. The Geneva Environment Network secretariat will operate remotely during this period, except during its end-of-year closure, from 23 December 2023 to 2 January 2024. This newsletter exceptionally covers activities for the upcoming three weeks.

Image of the week | The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, speaking at the closure of the two-day high-level events concluding the year-long celebration of the 75th anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights culminated, on 12 December 2023, at Palais des Nations. The event included a roundtable on the Future of Human Rights, Climate and the Environment.

Towards a Science Policy Panel to Tackle the Pollution Crisis

The second session of the ad hoc open-ended working group on a science-policy panel to contribute further to the sound management of chemicals and waste and to prevent pollution (OEWG-2) concluded in Nairobi last Friday, marking the mid-point of the negotiation. Member States made significant progress. Following extensive discussions on Institutional Arrangements, Operating Principles, Conflict of Interest, and other work-related processes and procedures, Member States now have a better idea of the future instrument’s structure and agreed on a clear roadmap for intersessional work towards the final session, scheduled to take place in Geneva, in June 2024. In her closing statement, the Chair, Gudi Alkemade, highlighted that the meeting laid the foundations to fulfill the promise made at the 5th session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA), with the adoption of resolution UNEA Resolution 5/8, towards establishing this Science Policy Panel. Reports and analyses on OEWG-2 include the Earth Negotiations Bulletin Summary, and CIEL Press Release “Second Science Policy Panel Talks Demonstrate Substantial Progress“.

Outcomes of the UN Climate Change Conference

The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) concluded on 13 December 2023, one day later than expected. After long hours of negotiations, parties adopted a decision on the first Global Stocktake under the Paris Agreement, which for the first time uses language on fossil fuels, calling for transitioning away from fossil fuels in energy systems. While many lament the lack of reference to a clear phase-out, this outcome is ‘the beginning of the end’. In the words of the UN Secretary-General Guterres, “[…] fossil fuel phase-out is inevitable. Let’s hope it doesn’t come too late.” → Access decision documents on UNFCCC Website. Among these, relevant highlights include:

COP28 also saw convergence on multiple non-negotiated declarations, pledges, charters, and coalitions,  including:

Suggested analyses and resources on the outcomes of COP28 include:

  • Earth Negotiation Bulletin Final Report
  • COP28 Agreement Signals “Beginning of the End” of the Fossil Fuel Era | UNFCCC | 13 December 2023
    The United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) closed today with an agreement that signals the “beginning of the end” of the fossil fuel era by laying the ground for a swift, just, and equitable transition, underpinned by deep emissions cuts and scaled-up finance.
  • UAE Presidency Press Release | 13 December 2023
    COP28 concluded with a final consensus that lays out a response to the Global Stocktake and puts forward a plan to close the gaps to 2030. It calls on Parties to transition away from fossil fuels, encourages them to submit economy-wide Nationally Determined Contributions, includes a new specific target to triple renewables and double energy efficiency by 2030, and builds momentum behind a new architecture for climate finance.
  • Simon Stiell’s closing speech | 13 December 2023
    “We didn’t turn the page on the fossil fuel era, but this outcome is the beginning of the end. These climate conferences are a consensus-based process, meaning all Parties must agree on every word, every comma, every full stop. This is not easy, it underscores how much these UN conferences have achieved.”
  • Stop ‘kicking the can down the road,’ UN chief urges COP28 deal on phaseout of fossil fuels | UN News | 11 December 2023
    As COP28 entered its final 48 hours, the UN chief delivered a clear message to government negotiators: “We must conclude the conference with an ambitious outcome that demonstrates decisive action and a credible plan to keep 1.5-degree goal alive, protecting those on the frontlines of the climate crisis.” 
  • UNEP Executive Director’s statement | UNEP | 13 December 2023
    COP28 has delivered, for the first time at climate talks, a clear call on countries to transition away from fossil fuels. The deal is not perfect, but one thing is clear: the world is no longer denying our harmful addiction to fossil fuels. Now, we move beyond bargaining to action. 
  • The Global Climate Action Portal (GCAP) COP28 climate action announcement tracker | UNFCCC
    Many countries, leading businesses, and activists advocated for stronger commitments and language, including a phase-out of fossil fuels. But although the final agreement is weaker than many had hoped, it is a step in the right direction.
  • While weaker than hoped, COP28 took a small step in the right direction | Business for Nature | 14 December 2023
    A year on from the adoption of the Global Biodiversity Framework, nature played a critical role in this year’s climate conference. Colombia’s Minister for Environment and Sustainable Development, Susanna Muhamed, announced that the country has offered to host COP16, the next biannual UN Conference on Biodiversity.
  • What are the loopholes in the COP28 climate deal? | Reuters | 14 December 2023
    Some delegations and environmental groups say it contains major loopholes that could keep oil, gas, and coal flowing indefinitely: deployment of carbon capture, transitional fuels, a clause calling upon parties to transition away from fossil fuels “in energy systems” – as opposed to across the entire economy.
  • Nature Got a More Prominent Place at the Table at COP28 | Inside Climate News | 14 December 2023
    Animals’ roles in the carbon cycle have long been overlooked. At the climate conference in Dubai, scientists showed how rewilding ecosystems can have big climate benefits.
  • Climate reparations are becoming a reality. Here’s what they could look like | GRIST | 14 December 2023
    As debates continue over how to finance and deploy the fund such that it serves those most in need, one aspect is frequently lost in the conversation: how countries will use the money when they receive it.
  • COP28: Key outcomes agreed at the UN climate talks in Dubai | Carbon Brief | 13 December 2023
    An in-depth analysis of all the key outcomes in Dubai – both inside and outside the COP. COP28 brought a wave of new international pledges – covering everything from oil-and-gas company emissions and tripling renewables, through to food systems and how the world can better integrate action on climate change and biodiversity loss.
  • Did COP28 get us closer to the world we want? Assessing the outcome on loss and damage | Loss and Damage Collaboration | 13 December 2023
    While it’s a positive signal to see Loss and Damage reflected in the GST, it is still treated as an option rather than a key component of a comprehensive response to climate change, which is a concern given the fact that loss and damage is escalating in frequency and magnitude and households and communities are already bearing the burden of responding to both the economic and non-economic costs of loss and damage.  
  • Climate Action from Geneva to Dubai | UN Climate Change Conference COP28

Calls for Submission and Contests Closing Soon

With the environment high on the agenda of International Geneva and beyond, different international processes, negotiations, and fora regularly call for inputs in preparation for future reports and guidelines. A dedicated update lists calls for submissions related to the environment. An additional update lists ongoing contests launched by our partners. Deadlines not to be missed during the coming weeks include:

  • United Nations World Wildlife Day 2024 Official Poster Contest | World Wildlife Day (WWD) is observed annually on 3 March to celebrate all the world’s wild animals and plants and the contribution that they make to our lives and the health of the planet. The theme for World Wildlife Day 2024 is “Connecting People and Planet: Exploring Digital Innovation in Wildlife Conservation”.  The CITES Secretariat is hosting a contest for the official poster(s) to be featured in this year’s celebration events and activities. Designs can be submitted by 22 December 2023 through this form.
  • Call for Nominations for Experts for the Methodological Assessment on Monitoring Biodiversity and Nature’s Contributions to People Assessment | The IPBES Plenary approved the undertaking of the methodological assessment on monitoring biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people (“monitoring assessment”) to monitor biodiversity, nature’s contributions to people and the direct and underlying causes of the observed changes; and progress towards the goals and targets of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.  The Multidisciplinary Expert Panel invites Governments and other relevant stakeholders to nominate experts to participate in the monitoring assessment.  Nominees are invited to complete the application form and attach their CV by 9 January 2024. Nominators (governments or organizations) should submit the nominations of all Nominees they support before 19 January 2024.
  • Second short national reports of the Minamata Convention on Mercury | According to Art.21, Parties to the Minamata Convention shall report to the Conference of the Parties, through the Secretariat, on the measures it has taken to implement the provisions of the Convention, on the effectiveness of such measures and on possible challenges in meeting the objective of the Convention. Parties are invited to submit their second short national report for the reporting period from 1 January 2021 until 31 December 2022 through the new online reporting tool by 31 December 2023.
  • Technical consultations as part of the WHO Global Research Agenda Setting for Climate Change and Health | The World Health Organization (WHO) is seeking experts and practitioners to participate in technical consultations to develop a global research agenda for climate change and health. The Research Agenda for Action on Climate Change and Health, REACH 2035 will define a set of forward-looking research priorities on climate change and health. Applications must be submitted by 31 December 2023
  • Trade + Sustainability Hub 2024 | Running alongside the thirteenth World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference (MC13) taking place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, from 26 to 29 February 2024, IISD’s Trade + Sustainability Hub will bring together thought leaders from both within and outside governments for a series of conversations on the challenges of building cooperative trade policy that delivers for sustainable development. The theme for 2024 is: Trade Policy in Turbulent Times: Can We Find a Way Back to Cooperation? → Register to join in person or online.
  • Written Inputs for the Preparation of the Zero Draft of the Pact for the Future | The co-facilitators of the Summit of the Future, Germany and Namibia,  invite Major Groups and Other Stakeholders (MGoS), other civil society networks and organizations, NGOs, the private sector and academia to provide written inputs for the preparation of the Zero Draft of the Pact for the Future. The deadline for the submission of written inputs is 31 December 2023. Inputs must be submitted in Word format using this template.

End of the Year and Season’s Greetings

As 2023 comes to an end, it is time to reflect on another busy year for environmental governance, with major negotiations and intergovernmental meetings in Geneva and beyond, leading to landmark decisions to tackle the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution, we are facing. Relive these moments in our selection of quotes for 2023

In 2023, the Geneva Environment Network organized 67 multi-stakeholder events, supported partners in hosting numerous other events, and welcomed 30 groups of students at the International Environment House. We also kept the Geneva community informed of environment-related activities and issues through our weekly newsletter and web resources. → Access videos and summaries of past events and a list of upcoming events

We would like to thank Switzerland, our partners, and other stakeholders for their continued support and collaboration, and for continuing to make Geneva a global hub for international environmental governance. The Geneva Environment Network team appreciates working with you and wishes you a very merry and environmentally-friendly holiday. We look forward to continuing our support to the Geneva environmental community in 2024!

Looking for some activities to complete your holiday program? Our page “Green Winter in Geneva” showcases our selection of environment-related activities, outdoor excursions, conferences, and more in Geneva.

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17 Apr 2024

Ongoing Contests