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, Youtube, or visit our website regularly for additional updates.

Image of the week | Panelists at the event “En route pour Paris: Négociation pour un instrument international juridiquement contraignant sur la pollution plastique (Pollution Plastique CIN-2)” listening to the representative of the Scientists’ Coalition for Effective Plastics Treaty, Montaserrat Filella, researcher at the University of Geneva. © UNEP/GEN, 15 March 2023.

Release of Latest Climate Change Report

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) met for its fifty-eighth Session (IPCC-58) in the city of Interlaken last week, and finalized the Synthesis Report of its sixth assessment cycle (AR6 SYR) on Sunday 19 March. The landmark report – the culmination of work of hundreds of scientists and experts that act as IPCC authors, and volunteer their time to assess thousands of scientific literatures – provides policymakers an overview of the state of knowledge on the science of climate change. It will be released on Monday 20 March 2023, at 14:00 CET. At the opening of the IPCC-58 session, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres statedOur world is at a crossroads, and our planet is in the crosshairs. We are nearing the point of no return, of overshooting the internationally agreed limit of 1.5 degrees Celsius of global warming. We are at the tip of a tipping point.More on IISD Earth Negotiation Bulletin and IPCC website

Climate Change, Human Rights and the IPCC AR6 Synthesis Report | A side event to HRC52 organized by CIEL and Earthjustice will assess the IPCC Synthesis Report through human rights lenses, to understand how its messages about the gravity of the climate crisis, and the urgency to take effective and rapid action to tackle it can promote rights-based climate action. Join the discussion on 21 March 2023, 12:00 – 13:00 CET at Palais des Nations, Room XXII, or online.

Comments from civil society representatives ahead of IPCC Report Launch | Climate Action Network International (10 March 2023 ) | Upcoming IPCC Report Must Signal to Polluters their Time is Up | On the occasion of the release of the Sixth IPCC Report, civil society representatives share their concerns and call for concrete and timely climate action. A rapid and equitable fossil fuel phase out plan must be top priority for all governments while massively scaling up investments in renewables and energy efficiency measures, with wealthy nations substantially increasing their fair share of international climate finance.

IPCC Scholarship Programme | The programme provides scholarships for PhD students from developing countries for research that advances the understanding of the scientific basis of risks of climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. The call for applications for the 7th Round of Scholarship Awards is open until 2 April 2023 via the application portal.

United for Water Action

International Geneva is mobilized for the first United Nations conference on water since 1977, which will kick off for three days at the UN Headquarters on 22 March 2023, as we celebrate World Water Day. The UN 2023 Water Conference, convened by the UN General Assembly and co-hosted by the Governments of Tajikistan and the Netherlands. Numerous Geneva institutions have released dedicated pages on their contribution to the conference. Follow the discussion live on UN TV and through the IISD Earth Negotiation Bulletin

Role of Geneva | In Geneva, water is discussed in various fora (human rights, humanitarian, health, meteorology, disaster prevention, nature conservation, economy, peace, pollution, etc.) and numerous organizations (UN, intergovernmental organizations, NGOs, business organizations, academic) focus on water issues, making this region a strategic hub for global water governance.   Find out more on the Water Cycle and the Role of Geneva

exp’EAU 23 | Two days of events, organized within the framework of the 30th World Water Day, to dive into the heart of local Geneva’s aquatic heritage and learn about the good habits to adopt to protect the most precious of our resources. Join the Canton and its partners on 25 and 26 March 2023 at the SICLI Pavilion.

Environment @ Human Rights Council

The environment remains high on the agenda of the 52nd session of the Human Rights Council (HRC52), as it continues onto its fourth week. Here are some highlights:

Protecting Environmental Defenders | A side event to HRC52 on “Protecting Environmental Defenders” will discuss the steps made since the launch of the “Geneva Roadmap 40/11” in 2020 in the protection of environmental defenders and identify objectives to come. → Join the event on 20 March 2023, 11:00 – 12:00 CET at Palais des Nations, Room XXII, or through the YouTube livestream.

Plastic Pollution and Human Rights | In a statement during the General Debate on Agenda Item 3 last Friday, the Permanent Representative of Peru, on behalf of Peru and 32 other countries, delivered a statement underscoring that “The impact of plastic pollution on a broad range of human rights is undeniable.” The statement urges Member States to call for a plastics treaty firmly rooted in a human rights-based approach that reduces inequalities, enables just transition, and protects the environment. → See highlights of the statement here.

Other events of interest this week include:

 Regular updates on key environmental issues at HRC52, side events, highlights and further resources are available on our HRC52 and the environment dedicated webpage.

Towards the Plastics Treaty

Towards Plastic Pollution INC-2 | The last Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution Dialogue, held in French, welcomed French-speaking countries and actors engaged in the organization, marking the steps towards the meeting in Paris. → Rewatch the session and consult the presentations here.

High Ambition Plastic Coalition to End Plastic Pollution Webinar | The Governments of Ghana and Norway are hosting a webinar ‘Increasing Circularity of Plastics in the Economy’, on Wednesday 22 March at 10:00 CET.

Additional resources published recently include:

  • A group of 16 civil society organizations has sent a joint letter to the European Commission raising attention to the results of a study that identified nanomaterials in 20 out of the 23 daily products tested, including cosmetics. Underlying the failure of the current framework for nano labelling and expressing concern about people’s health, the letter calls for updating EU regulations to increase transparency and traceability and ensure safety. 
  • A new report by the United Nations University’s Institute for Water, Environment and Health draws on facts and perceptions about bottled water in the global context. While highlighting the different production and demand factors between the Global North and South, water safety associated with Bottled Water is often debunked. The report finds that ‘the world currently generates around 600 billion plastic bottles amounting to approximately 25 million tonnes of plastic waste, which is not recycled but is disposed of in landfills or as unregulated waste.’ With 1 million bottles of water sold every minute around the world, both drinking water resources and plastic pollution are threatened by a rampant crisis.
  • New report released by IUCN on gender and plastics for the Plastic Waste Free Islands project in the Caribbean and in the Pacific, looking at the interconnections between plastic waste, human rights violations and gender unequal impacts. It highlights the importance of gender-sensitive programming and mainstreaming in the context of plastic pollution.
  • The discovery of melted plastic intertwined with rocks on a remote Brazilian island evidences humans’ growing influence over the earth’s geological cycles. The “plastiglomerates” rocks contains mostly fishing nets and represent a danger for the protected islands, a conservation site for turtles. → Brazilian researchers find ‘terrifying’ plastic rocks on remote island | Sergio Queiroz | Reuters | 16 March 2023
  • Microplastics Workshop for Early Career Researchers | From 12 to 17 November 2023, ETH Zürich, the University of Gothenburg, Hochschule Fresenius University of Applied Sciences and the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens are supporting PhD or MSc researchers in their work through a workshop that will take place in Monte Verità, Ascona. → Register here.
  • Vinyl Chloride | Vinyl chloride made the headlines in the past month as one of the hazardous materials spilled through the Ohio trail derailment accident. Most recent updates on the accident include a reflection on plastic policy by Slate and a video by Beyond Plastics collecting testimonies of affected people.

Spring is Here | Activities for the Planet

Spring is officially starting this week, with Monday 20 March marking the start of the spring equinox in the Northern Hemisphere. However, in Geneva, the arrival of spring is announced by the administrative secretary of the State Council and Parliament with the hatching of the first leaf of the chestnut tree of the Promenade de la Treille, a tradition that started in 1818. This year, the first leaf appeared on 9 March.

As days are getting longer, it is not only flowers that start to bud in the parks of Geneva, but also a wide range of green activities that are flourishing in this international city. From exhibitions and film screenings to creative workshops and outdoor activities, we invite you to learn more about the environment, reencounter local wildlife, explore nature trails and spend a “green spring” in Geneva. Discover our suggested activities in our dedicated webpage, which we will regularly update as the season goes. Activities this week include:

  • Green Film Festival | Launched in 2006, the Green Film FestivalFestival du Film Vert – has given itself the mission to propose a program of little known films on current ecological subjects or cinematographic works dealing with less publicized subjects. The Green Film Festival is the only documentary festival dedicated to ecology and the environment in French-speaking Switzerland, and has become, over the years, a major event. The 18th edition is held from 4 March t0 9 April 2023. The Geneva journey of the festival, kicks off on Tuesday 21 March at the Museum of Natural History, and will run until 2 April.
  • An Hour for the Earth and for Us | Every year, on the last Saturday of March, 190 countries and territories come together for one hour, turning off their lights at 20:30 local time to make a positive action for the planet. This year over 51,395 people from 141 countries and territories have already pledged their hour to the planet. With less than 7 years to stay within the 1.5°C climate threshold, Earth Hour creates this year the Biggest Hour for Earth, a collective reminder that the world is our shared home and needs the help we all can – and must – play a part in protecting it.
  • Interactions | Produced by ART for The World, the film Interactions is an example of cross-cultural cooperation and of how art and cinema can inspire action to protect the planet. The film will be presented at the Graduate Institute on 22 March at 18:15 CET, as part of the Geneva Sustainability Week with the contribution of the Permanent Mission of India to the UN and other International Organizations and the Consulate General of India in Geneva. Under the auspices of the Convention on Biological Diversity, twelve internationally recognised filmmakers joined forces to raise awareness on the most pressing environmental issues and to create connections between humans and animals through biodiversity, climate change, environment and water risks.

Calls for Contributions

  • Festival Alternatiba Léman 2023 | Pre-registration for the next edition of the Festival Alternatiba Léman is now open to organizations until 6 April 2023. → Register on their page.
  • 2023 GCSP Prize for Transformative Futures in Peace and Security | The inaugural edition of this prize of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy seeks to reward groundbreaking concepts that offer exceptional promise in addressing peace and security challenges. Concepts from a wide variety of fields may be eligible for consideration including, pandemics, biothreats, climate change, or human rights, for example. → Deadline of applications is on 27 March 2023. 
  • Prix IDDEA 2023 | Prix IDDEA supports project makers in the development of sustainable and innovative business projects. Proposed ideas must be economically viable and socially and ecologically useful. → Deadline for submission is on 23 March 2023.

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