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. During the COVID-19 pandemic, some live events organized by organizations around the world, contributing to the global environmental agenda, have also been included. Stay tuned and follow us also on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube, or visit our website regularly for additional updates.

Due to the developments in the sanitary situation, various institutions in Geneva continue operating virtually. Our update on COVID-19 and the environment lists relevant information, research, data, and press releases on the environmental origins and impacts of the pandemic.

Photo of the week | HRC48 Side Event – Addressing the Adverse Impact of Climate Change on the Full and Effective Enjoyment of Human Rights | Benjamin SCHACHTER, H.E. Mereswalesi FALEMAKA (Moderator), and H.E. Mohamed NASHEED | Villa Rigot (meeting room of the Geneva Cities Hub) |  15 September 2021

Environment @ 48th Session of the Human Rights Council

The 48th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC48), continues this week in Geneva, with a number of environment-related issues on the agenda. Our update provides the latest news and highlights the environmental-related activities of this session.

A Toxic Free Planet

The UN Special Rapporteur on Toxics, Marco Orellana, will present his report on the right to science in the context of toxic substances (A/HRC/48/61) at this session, with regard to the risks and harms associated with the life cycle of hazardous substances and wastes, examining the dynamics and interconnections between scientific progress, the diffusion of scientific information and the science-policy interface. The discussion is scheduled to take place on 21 September at 15:30 CEST.

Join the side events convened by the Special Rapporteur within the framework of the Geneva Toxic Free Talks:

  • The right to science in the context of toxic substances | 22 September at 13.30 CEST (Register on Webex)
    The creation of effective channels connecting science with policymaking is indispensable to advancing the contribution of scientific knowledge to human rights protection.
  • Plastics and human rights | 23 September at 13.30 CEST, also convened within the framework of the Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution Dialogues (Register on Webex)
    In view of upcoming debates on whether to initiate negotiations toward a new plastics treaty at the next UN Environment Assembly in February 2022, this timely event will explore the impacts of plastics on human rights, as well as the elements of a human rights-based approach in a new legally binding global instrument.

Right to a Healthy Environment

The core group on Human Rights and the Environment – Costa Rica, Maldives, Morocco, Slovenia and Switzerland – has announced it will put forth the resolution to recognize universally the right to a safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment during the 48th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC48).

A large civil society coalition, of over 1,100 organizations, has been calling on all States to seize this historic opportunity to support the core-group of the resolution #TheTimeIsNow. Among the statements issued last week:

In her global update to HRC48 on 13 September, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, called for Member States’ leadership to address the environmental crises which threaten the very foundation of human life.

A safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment is the foundation of human life. But today, because of human action – and inhuman inaction – the triple planetary crises of climate change, pollution, and nature loss is directly and severely impacting a broad range of rights, including the rights to adequate food, water, education, housing, health, development, and even life itself. Read full statement →

Protection of Environmental Human Rights Defenders

The High Commissioner announced the launch a joint Environmental Rights Programme in the coming months to enhance protection of environmental human rights defenders and civic space; integrate human rights, including the right to a healthy environment, into all relevant negotiations and UN processes. and help build national capacity to promote and protect human rights. That same day, Global Witness sadly announced that in 2020, it recorded 227 lethal attacks against land and environmental defenders – an average of more than four people a week – making it once again the most dangerous year on record for people defending their homes, land and livelihoods, and ecosystems vital for biodiversity and the climate.

New Mandate for a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Climate Change

Thanks to the tireless efforts of the core group behind resolution 47/24, the possibility of creating a new special procedure addressing the adverse impact of climate change is now on the agenda of the Council. OP 15 of that resolution gives the impetus needed at the Council to discuss the establishment of the mandate of a Special Rapporteur on Climate Change and Human Rights, and the leadership it needs responding to the threat climate change represents to Human Rights.

On 15 September, the Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Marshall Islands hosted a side-event on “Addressing the adverse impact of Climate Change on the full and effective enjoyment of human rights”, co-sponsored by the Bahamas, Barbados, Fiji, Guyana, Haiti, Maldives, Nauru, Singapore, and Vanuatu. This event presented the findings of the latest IPCC report (AR6 Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis Report) to the members of the Council in the context of existing and potential future work of the Council, including the creation of a Special Rapporteur on Climate Change and Human Rights as a response to this crisis.

With the momentum around climate action growing and resolution 47/24 on climate change adopted earlier this year, a core group composed of Bahamas, the European Union, Fiji, Panama, Paraguay, Sudan, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands will be tabling a resolution focused on the technical delivery of the establishment of a mandate of a Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change.

H.E. Amb. Doreen De Brum, Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Marshall Islands to the UN

The draft resolution was shared on Thursday 16 September, with the view to hold the informal starting on Friday 17 September, 15.00-16.30 CEST, and the second one on the Wednesday 22 September,  16.30-18.00 CEST, and the third one on the Friday 24 September, 9.00-10.30 CEST.

Festival du Film Vert

La 16ème édition du Festival du Film Vert revient cette année avec 250 projections dans 64 lieux en Suisse et en France. A Genève, vous pouvez découvrir des films  sur le thème de l’environnement, du développement durable ou des relations nord-sud, du 21 septembre au 3 octobre.

L‘ouverture officielle a lieu au Cinéma Empire, le 21 septembre à 20h, avec la projection du film “Génération Greta“, en présence des autorités de la Ville de Genève, et suivi d’un débat avec des élus et militants locaux.

Happening Abroad

  • 76th Session of the UN General Assembly | virtually in New York | From 14 September 2021
    The 76th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 76) continues this week, with the high-level General Debate beginning on Tuesday, 21 September 2021. International Geneva is contributing to:

    • 20 September 2021 | SDG Moment 2021
      A one-day meeting is being planned to identify critical interventions to accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
    • 20-22 September 2021 | Uniting Business LIVE 2021
      Over 50 high-impact sessions led by Chief Executive Officers from companies you know and admire, Government Leaders, forward-thinking sustainability influencers, and UN agency heads. 
    • 22 September 2021 | Transformative Action for Nature and People
      High-level event to showcase action to protect, conserve, sustainably use and restore nature and close the finance gap.
    • 23 September 2021 | UN Food Systems Summit
      Held virtually, the aim of the Summit is to deliver progress on all 17 of the SDGs through a food systems approach, leveraging the interconnectedness of food systems to global challenges such as hunger, climate change, poverty and inequality.
    • 23 September 2021 | Security Council Debate on Climate and Security
      An opportunity to explore the increasing global consensus that climate-related disasters are linked to growing instability and sociopolitical tensions around the world that threaten peace and security.
    • 24 September 2021 | High Level Dialogue on Energy
      First global gathering on energy held under the auspices of the General Assembly since the 1981 UN Conference on New and Renewable Sources of Energy. This is a Heads of State / Government event about SDG7 on energy and its three goals of universal access to modern energy, renewable energy, and energy efficiency. 
    • 22-24 September, 2021 | 2021 SDG Action Zone
      To highlight the ecosystem-wide solutions, plans, and investments needed to impact people’s lives and the future of our planet.
  • CPW Wildlife Forum 2021 | Budapest, Hungary & Online | 26-27 September 2021
    Under the central theme of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, the Wildlife Forum will discuss how to move from theory towards further implementation of policies and actions in relation to sustainable wildlife management.

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Updates