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), Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Youtube, or visit our website regularly for additional updates.

Image of the week | “Genève, la Jonction: crues de l’Arve et du Rhône“, drawing by Philip Jamin (1848 – 1918) of 1888, included in the collections of Documents department of Old Geneva of the Bibliothèque de Genève (Library of Geneva). Last week, heavy rainfall caused a new rise in the level of River’s Arve water, with a record-high flow rate of more than 1,000 m3 of water per second, corresponding to a 1-in-100-year flood, and led to the closure of bridges in the City of Geneva. The Arve River rises on the northern side of the Mont Blanc massif, receives water from the glaciers of the Chamonix valley, and flows into the River Rhone in Jonction, named after the junction of the two rivers.

Making COP28 a Turning Point for Climate Action

The UN Climate Change Conference (COP28) to be held in Dubai later this month, under the presidency of the United Arab Emirates, “must be the place to urgently close the climate ambition gap”, as emissions continue to rise and climate chaos intensifies, insisted last week UN Secretary-General António Guterres, while various additional pivotal reports and statements were being issued:

This week, various events in preparation for COP28 and raising awareness on the importance of these negotiations will be taking place in Geneva, including:

  • The Permanent Mission of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations Office and other International Organizations in Geneva and the Geneva Environment Network will be hosting a Briefing on COP28, on the challenges of and opportunities in addressing climate change, and the contributions of international Geneva to this global agenda. International Geneva is mobilized in the fight against climate change. In addition to the secretariat of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the headquarters of the World Meteorological Organization, the numerous international organizations, permanent missions, non-governmental organizations and other institutions based in Geneva place the climate issue at the heart of their work. Referred to as the world capital for multilateralism, Geneva is at the center of numerous debates and negotiations in the fields of science, health, human rights, development, trade and green finance, employment, peacebuilding and security, disaster risk reduction, humanitarian issues, as well as new technologies and innovation. This interdisciplinarity allows International Geneva to have unique cross-disciplinary expertise on climate, this theme being on the agenda of numerous deliberations. → Register on Indico and join us at Palais des Nations, Room XVIII, on Tuesday 21 November 2023, from 10:00 to 12:00 CET.

  • The City of Geneva will be launching the first edition of its Climate Week, “Semaine du Climat“, on 22 November. Over 40 events proposed include debates, workshops and film screenings, which aim at enabling citizens to gain a better understanding of climate issues and solutions they can enact to reduce their carbon footprint. To that purpose, the Canton of Geneva, the City of Geneva, and 2050Today recently launched the first cantonal carbon footprint calculator.
  • The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and Adaptation at Altitude programme of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) are co-organizing “Mountains, Parliaments, and the Global Goal for Adaptation- Preparing for COP28“, a virtual event that will provide parliamentarians and other stakeholders with an overview of the importance of including mountain areas in adaptation plans and how to integrate mountains in the negotiations at COP28, on 20 November, from 14:00 – 15:30 CET.
  • The United Nations Environment Programme will launch the 2023 edition of the Emissions Gap Report — the spotlight report that tracks the gap between where global emissions are heading with current country commitments and where they ought to be to limit warming to 1.5°C — in a virtual press conference on 20 November, at 15:00 CET.
  • AGIR – an association carrying out various projects and initiatives for the promotion of International Geneva – is convening an Afterwork: What’s going on at COP28?, on 23 November, from 18:30 to 19:30 CET.

Other important recent resources on climate change and COP28 include:

  • 2023 Report of the Lancet Countdown | The Lancet | 16 November 2023
    The findings underscore the opportunity of a lifetime that COP could help deliver – through commitments and action to accelerate a just transition. Without profound and swift mitigation to tackle the root causes of climate change and to support adaptation efforts, the health of humanity is at grave risk. 
  • Türk calls for human rights to guide action to stop climate crisis as COP28 set to open in Dubai | OHCHR | 15 November 2023
    “For decades we have failed to do enough,” said Türk in an open letter to delegates. “But there is hope. If we resolutely steer away from short-sighted decisions based on self-interest, we still have a narrow window to keep this crisis from spinning further out of control and to limit heating to no more than 1.5°C.”
  • State of Climate Action 2023 | World Resources Institute | 14 November 2023
    The State of Climate Action 2023 finds that global efforts to limit warming to 1.5°C are failing across the board, with recent progress made on every indicator — except electric passenger car sales — lagging significantly behind the pace and scale that is necessary to address the climate crisis.
  • Beyond climate: Oil, gas and coal are destabilizing all 9 planetary boundaries | Mongabay | 14 November 2023
    If humanity doesn’t find alternative energy sources and phase out fossil fuels, agrochemicals, and petrochemicals, then their production will continue driving the climate crisis; polluting the atmosphere, water and land; creating deoxygenated kill zones in the world’s oceans; and poisoning wildlife and people.
  • COP28 declaration to tie climate funding to conflict for the first time | The New Humanitarian | 13 November 2023
    The COP28 presidency will call for immediate action and “urgent” funding to help communities hit by conflict and climate change, according to a draft declaration being circulated ahead of the upcoming climate summit.
  • The climate-changed child. A Children’s Climate Risk Index supplement | UNICEF | 13 November 2023
    Despite their unique vulnerability, children have been either ignored or largely disregarded in the response to climate change. Only 2.4 percent of climate finance from key multilateral climate funds support projects incorporating child-responsive activities.

Nature-based Solutions in Humanitarian Contexts | Interlinkages Between Nature-Climate-Humanitarian Crises

The upcoming UN Climate Change Conference will feature various thematic days, including for the first time a day on “Relief, Recovery and Peace” on 3 December 2023, recognizing the interlinkages between nature-climate-humanitarian crises. The growing disaster risk, driven in part by climate change and environmental degradation, threatens indeed to exceed the humanitarian sector’s capacity to respond to crises. Within these complex humanitarian response dynamics, the environment is often overlooked, not prioritized, or treated as an afterthought. Yet the environment is fundamental to effective humanitarian action for a degraded environment can trigger or worsen a humanitarian crisis, and humanitarian operations can damage the environment, exacerbating underlying vulnerability and risk.

This week, the Policy Dialogue ” Nature-based Solutions in Humanitarian Contexts”, co-organized by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the Geneva Environment Network, will offer an opportunity to amplify common messaging on the interlinked nature-climate-humanitarian crises and the need of common narrative for tackling both climate emergency and humanitarian action. Nature-based Solutions (NbS) are a powerful tool for enhancing resilience, supporting sustainable development, and improving the quality of life of affected communities while safeguarding the livelihoods and ecosystems they depend upon. NbS can provide multiple benefits simultaneously relevant to humanitarian contexts and are one key approach not only for adapting to climate change but also for preventing loss and damage and sustainably managing natural resources. → Register to participate in person at the IFRC premises or online on Webex on 23 November 2023 from 15:00 to 17:00 CET.

Inaugural Celebration of World Sustainable Transport Day

Recognizing the important role of safe, affordable, accessible, and sustainable transport systems for all in supporting sustainable economic growth, improving the social welfare of people, and enhancing international cooperation and trade among countries, at its 77th Session in May 2023, the UN General Assembly decided to declare 26 November as World Sustainable Transport Day. Transport touches every part of our lives, from clothing to food, raw materials, stocks, and more. Transports make jobs accessible and allow commerce. Therefore, making transport as safe, accessible, and sustainable as possible is one of the keys to a brighter and more sustainable future.

To mark the first observation of World Sustainable Transport Day, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) and the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs will host an event to highlight the importance of making transport safe, accessible, and sustainable for a sustainable future. → Find more information and register to attend on 24 November 2023 at Palais des Nations, from 10:00 to 13:00 CET.

Outcomes of Plastics Treaty Negotiations in Nairobi

The third session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment (INC-3) concluded in Nairobi on Sunday. At INC3:

  • Delegates approved the dates and venues of INC-4 and INC-5, as 21-30 April 2024 in Ottawa, Canada, and 25 November- 1 December 2024, in Busan, Republic of Korea.
  • Proposals were made or reiterated to host the Diplomatic Conference by Rwanda and Peru, Ecuador and Senegal. Ecuador has now taken the presidency of the INC process.
  • H.E. Amb. Luis Vayas Valdivieso, Ambassador of Ecuador to the United Kingdom, was elected as the next Chair of the INC process, while H.E. Ambassador Gustavo Meza-Cuadra of Peru and Harry Liiv of Estonia were elected vice-chairs, at the conclusion of the Session.
  • Delegates mandated the Secretariat to compile a “revised zero-draft text” by 31 December, to be the basis of talks at INC-4.
  • There was no agreement on a mandate for the intersessional work.

Reports and analyses on INC-3 include:

The Chair, H.E. Ambassador Gustavo Meza-Cuadra of Peru, concluded the meeting by quoting Nelson Mandela: “Sometimes it falls upon a generation to be great. You can be that great generation. Let your greatness blossom.”

World Antimicrobial Awareness Week 2023

The 2023 edition of the World Antimicrobial Awareness Week (WAAW) global campaign, taking place under the theme Preventing antimicrobial resistance together, from 18 to 24 November 2023.

Various events are taking place in Geneva and beyond including this week:

What (Else) to Read Next?

  • WTO members examine proposals to deepen discussions on trade and environment | WTO | 16 November 2023
    At the WTO Committee on Trade and Environment meeting, members considered seven proposals to reinvigorate discussions on climate change and sustainable development at the WTO, and discussed suggestions on environment-related outcomes for the upcoming 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13).
  • Smoke and Mirrors. The Realities of Plastic Credits and Offsetting | Break Free From Plastic and Global Alliance Against Incinerator Alternatives | 16 November 2023
    This report uncovers serious flaws in plastic offsets, credits and plastic neutrality. The listed projects on two of the main proponents of plastic offsetting — Verra and Plastic Credit Exchange (PCX) — were analysed to provide a snapshot of the current realities of plastic offsetting, beyond the promises and marketing.
  • Offshore Carbon Capture and Storage: No Solution to Fossil Fuel Pollution | CIEL | 16 November 2023
    Deep Trouble: The Risks of Offshore Carbon Capture and Storage lays out the threats posed by fossil fuel industry plans to store carbon dioxide beneath the ocean floor. The report examines the new push to massively scale up offshore CCS by pooling CO₂ waste in shared storage “hubs” in the world’s oceans. 
  • The promise and risks of deep-sea mining | Reuters | 15 November 2023
    The International Seabed Authority is working to set regulations for deep-sea mining as companies engaged in the clean energy transition clamor for more minerals. That transition will be a central focus at the United Nations’ COP28 climate summit in Dubai.
  • CITES Standing Committee upholds suspension of trade in West African Rosewood | EIA | 14 November 2023
     At the 77th Meeting of the Standing Committee, parties to CITES upheld the trade suspension for Pterocarpus erinaceus, a threatened species of rosewood found in West Africa. Trade in the species will remain suspended until range States provide Non-Detriment Findings and Legal Acquisition Findings for any exports.
  • A rush for Lithium in Africa risks fuelling corruption and failing citizens  | Global Witness | 14 November 2023 
    Global Witness investigated three emerging lithium mines in Zimbabwe, Namibia and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and found that the rush for lithium on the continent – far from delivering a ‘just energy transition’ – risks fuelling corruption, and a range of other environmental, social and governance problems.
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17 Apr 2024

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