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 | Gearing up for the 22nd edition of the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH) taking place from 8 – 17 March 2024, the Changemakers Collaboration Workshop presented this year’s film selection, featuring various projects on human rights and the environment, ahead of the 2024 FIFDH Impact Days. FIFDH takes place annually in parallel to the March session of the Human Rights Council. © UNEP/GEN, 16 February 2024

Laying the Groundwork for the UN Environment Assembly

With only one week before the Sixth Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-6), where more than 5,000 representatives from Member States, civil society, and private sector representatives are expected, including numerous delegates and experts from International Geneva, preparatory processes and associated events are convening this week in Nairobi:

Various events hosted in Geneva prepared stakeholders for the Assembly.

Fisheries Subsidies & Sustainability | Road to MC13

The World Trade Organization’s members will gather next week in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, for the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13). Acknowledging the challenges members face in securing a package of outcomes at MC13, WTO Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala admitted last week at a special meeting of the WTO’s General Council, being confident members would be able to deliver considering the relatively positive tone in the negotiations, and noted progress in efforts to secure the entry into force of the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies.

Last week, Barbados, Dominica, Senegal, and Uruguay formally accepted the Fisheries Subsidies Agreement, bringing the number of members that have formally accepted the Agreement to 60 or 55 percent of what is needed for the Agreement to enter into force (two-thirds of the WTO membership). The last ‘Fish Month’ left a lot to resolve — including contentious provisions on special treatment for developing countries. See the Draft Text on Fisheries Subsidies sent to MC13 and the chair’s explanatory note.

Go more in-depth with:

International Court of Justice Climate Advisory Proceedings | Opportunities for States

The UN General Assembly adopted last year a resolution requesting the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to issue an Advisory Opinion that clarifies States’ obligations in respect of climate change. As the result of the leadership of Vanuatu and 18 other States, the ICJ has now, for the first time in history, the mandate to address the obligations of States with regard to climate change, under multiple sources of law including international environmental law and human rights law.

The Permanent Mission of Vanuatu and the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), with the support of the Permanent Missions of Costa Rica and Portugal, are convening a diplomatic briefing on Wednesday 21 February, from 14:00 to 15:00 CET, to discuss the opportunities that this Advisory Opinion process offers and the importance for States to meaningfully engage in it. It is important that States, especially those worst affected by the climate emergency, send in initial submissions by 22 March 2024, and fully engage with this vital process, including the public hearings that are expected to be scheduled later in the year. Meeting this initial deadline is also a requirement for States to be allowed to provide additional comments on other written statements.

Decarbonizing Inland Transport by 2050 | 86th ITC

The 86th session of the Inland Transport Committee (ITC) takes place this week in Geneva. The session will focus on taking ambitious climate action and is expected to adopt a strategy to decarbonize inland transport by 2050, which Member States had requested at previous sessions to set a medium and long-term course toward the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, enabling parties to deliver on their climate commitments under the Paris Agreement. As part of the session, various roundtables and events will be dedicated to the sustainability aspect of transport:

Informal Intersessional Work Towards Plastic Pollution INC-4

In the run-up to the fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-4) to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, informal intersessional gatherings continue discussing and unpacking elements to be addressed in April.

  • The High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution (HAC) hosted last week a two-day negotiators’ workshop to reflect on the outcomes of INC-3 and the way forward to INC-4.
  • The Friends of the Ocean Action Agenda (FOAA) — created to facilitate discussions with governments and stakeholders to inform the development of an action agenda under the new plastic pollution instrument — will host this week a webinar to discuss what is meant by an ‘action agenda’, as well as its role, function, and benefits in practice under existing multilateral environmental agreements. → Register to attend on Zoom on 20 February 2024 from 15:00 CET.
  • Find in our update the additional events planned in the coming weeks.

Recent news on plastic pollution include:

  • The Fraud of Plastic Recycling | How Big Oil and the plastics industry deceived the public for decades and caused the plastic waste crisis | Center for Climate Integrity | 15 February 2024
    “The Fraud of Plastic Recycling” shows how Big Oil and the plastics industry have deceptively promoted recycling as a solution to plastic waste management for more than 50 years, despite their long-standing knowledge that plastic recycling is not technically or economically viable at scale.
  • Plastics Reckoning: PVC Is Ubiquitous, But Maybe Not for Long | YaleEnvironment360 | 15 February 2024
    Used in everything from water pipes to vinyl records, PVC has long attracted criticism: a key ingredient is carcinogenic, and its additives include known endocrine disruptors. Now, the EPA is evaluating PVC’s safety, and an emerging global plastics treaty may limit its use.
  • The hidden plastics in our clothes – and how to avoid them | Lucianne Tonti | The Guardian | 12 February 2024
    There is a lot of plastic hidden in our clothes. Sometimes it’s in plain sight, like a pair of pleather trousers that squeak with every step. Sometimes it’s disguised, like the elastic inside the waistband of your otherwise organic cotton shorts. Often it is invisible, like the microplastics shed by synthetic materials; while you may never see them, they have been found at the bottom of the ocean and in human blood, placenta, and baby poo.

On the Road to the Summit of the Future | Pact for the Future Consultations

The Summit of the Future — taking place on 22-23 September 2024 in New York — will bring world leaders together to forge a new international consensus on how we deliver a better present and safeguard the future. The Summit is expected to deliver a Pact for the Future to provide guidance on how to accelerate efforts to meet existing international commitments and take concrete steps to respond to emerging challenges and opportunities. Germany and Namibia, co-facilitators of the Summit, announced the release of the zero draft of the Pact for the Future on 26 January 2024, and provided a roadmap of the next steps for delegates and Major Groups and other Stakeholders and Civil Society to contribute to its further shaping. 

This week, a Virtual consultation will give Major Group and other Stakeholders (MGoS) and civil society representatives the opportunity to share their feedback on the zero draft of the Pact for the Future. → Register by midnight, 19 February 2024 to attend the consultation on 21 February from 16:00 to 19:00 CET.

Stakeholders in Geneva are engaged in the preparations for the Summit through the organization of discussions and release of commentaries, such as the one by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) advocating for further inclusion of environmental issues in the scope of the Summit of the Future. → Learn about Geneva’s role and contribution.

What (Else) to Read Next?

  • Historic UN Wildlife Meeting Concludes with Major Set of Actions for the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals | Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals | 17 February 2024
    Among the new measures adopted at the 14th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP14) to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) in Samarkand, Uzbekistan: the addition of 14 species to the coverage of the Convention, including the Eurasian Lynx, Pallas’s Cat and Sand Tiger Shark. Other measures were adopted to safeguard species such as the Chimpanzee and Giraffe.
  • Statement in support of the adoption of the European Union Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence | UN Special Rapporteur on environmental defenders under the Aarhus Convention | 15 February 2024
    As the draft European Union Directive on Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence (CSDDD or the Directive) is awaiting approval at the end of this week, I use this opportunity, in my capacity as UN Special Rapporteur on environmental defenders under the Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention), to reiterate the pivotal importance of the Directive and to call on all Member States to support its adoption.
  • Guidelines for drinking-water quality: small water supplies | World Health Organization | 15 February 2024
    These Guidelines focus on establishing drinking-water quality regulations and standards that are health-based and context-appropriate; on proactively managing risks through water safety planning and sanitary inspections; and on carrying out independent surveillance. 
  • At IEA Ministerial Meeting and 50th Anniversary, global leaders pledge to strengthen energy security and accelerate clean transitions to keep 1.5 °C target alive | IEA News | 14 February 2024
    The meeting of energy and climate ministers representing close to 50 countries delivered a powerful consensus on the need for bolder action and greater global cooperation to swiftly transform the world’s energy system, with geopolitical uncertainty on the rise and global temperatures continuing to break records.
  • World Restoration Flagships | UNEP and FAO | 13 February 2024
    In the lead-up to the sixth UN Environment Assembly, the United Nations is announcing seven new World Restoration Flagships. With the World Restoration Flagships, the UN is honouring the best examples of large-scale and long-term ecosystem restoration in any country or region, embodying the 10 Restoration Principles of the UN Decade.
  • State of the World’s Migratory Species | UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) for The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals | 12 February 2024
    The main focus of the report is the 1,189 animal species that have been recognized by CMS Parties as needing international protection and are listed under CMS, though it also features analysis linked to over 3,000 additional non-CMS migratory species. Species listed under the Convention are those at risk of extinction across all or much of their range, or in need of coordinated international action to boost their conservation status. → Read the press release and the coverage of IISD Earth Negotiations Bulletin.
  • Major New Global Initiative to Protect and Connect Natural Areas Launched at UN Wildlife Meeting | Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals | 14 February 2024
    A major new initiative was launched at the UN wildlife meeting taking place in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, to ensure that areas of importance to migratory species are identified, protected and connected. Known as the Global Partnership on Ecological Connectivity (GPEC), the announcement took place on the margins of CMS COP14.
  • Rapport sur les études et recherches enterprises dans le bassin lémanique | Commission internationale pour la protection des eaux du Léman contre la pollution – CIPEL | 12 February 2024
    The 2023 scientific report from the International Commission for the Protection of the Waters of Lake Geneva (CIPEL) reveals that the quality of the waters of Lake Geneva is under severe pressure from global warming. Despite conditions that are close to good ecological status, the change in the reproduction dates of whitefish and perch, influenced by high water temperatures, is revealing the challenges facing lake fauna. 
  • Revealed: the 1,200 big methane leaks from waste dumps trashing the planet | The Guardian | 12 February 2024
    Landfills emit methane when organic waste such as food scraps, wood, card, paper and garden waste decompose in the absence of oxygen. Methane, also called natural gas, traps 86 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide over 20 years. Scientists find emissions from unmanaged landfills could double by 2050 as urban populations grow, blowing the chance of avoiding climate catastrophe.
  • La première directive cantonale pour une meilleure qualité de l’air lors de chantiers | Département du territoire (DT) du Canton de Genève | 12 February 2024
    The canton is introducing new measures to reduce nuisance from construction sites. On 12 February, it published a cantonal directive and thirteen technical data sheets aimed at limiting emissions from construction sites. The directive is aimed at all construction companies working in Geneva.
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