The Geneva Environment Network’s weekly newsletter includes the latest information on the global environmental agenda, main events, job vacancies, 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 | The fourth edition of Festi’Terroir – a collaboration between the association Bio Genève, the Geneva Office for the Promotion of Agricultural Products (Genève Terroir) and the City of Geneva – showcasing the actors who make up the Geneva regional agriculture and food sector took place in Parc des Bastions,  from 19 to 21 August.

Ambition for the Global Agenda to End Plastic Pollution

On Monday 22 August, Norway and Rwanda are launching a High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution, as announced at UNEA-5.2. The coalition will work towards an ambitious international treaty on plastic pollution through three key strategic goals: (1) restrain plastic consumption and production to sustainable levels, (2) enable a circular economy for plastics that protects the environment and human health, and (3) achieve environmentally sound management and recycling of plastic waste. Thus far, 20 countries have joined the coalition; the co-chairs are inviting other interesting Parties to express their support.

[At UNEA-5] the international community agreed to set up a very strong mandate for these negotiations: legally-binding, source to sea, follow the plastic, make sure that the plastic we still use will be recyclable and that it will actually be recycled […] It was a great success that we agreed on such a strong mandate. But what we now need, is to make sure that negotiations deliver on what the world expects.

Espen Barth Eide, Minister of Climate and Environment of Norway and Co-Chair of the HAC to End Plastic Pollution | Full statement

The High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution is committed to urgent action and effective interventions across the full life cycle of plastic through an international legally-binding treaty […] Rwanda and Norway invite ambitious nations to join the coalition and be part of the historic mission to end plastic pollution.

Dr. Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, Minister of Environment of the Republic of Rwanda and Co-Chair of the HAC to End Plastic Pollution | Full statement

Meanwhile, plastic pollution kept making the headlines over the summer, as research and discussions on the roots of the plastic crisis and possible solutions are developing. Explore our Plastics and the Environment series to find out more. Latest news include:

Updates from the Geneva Chemicals, Waste and Pollution Cluster

As we approach the end of the summer, activities in Geneva are picking up the pace again. The month of September will be busy for the chemicals and pollution cluster, with many upcoming events. On 13 September, a Chemicals and Waste Briefing organized within the framework of the Geneva Environment Network will provide an overview of the work and key activities to advance the sound management of chemicals and waste globally, as well as important conferences scheduled in the second half of 2022 and in 2023. On that note, many Geneva experts are leaving this week to join the 4th meeting of the Intersessional Process (IP4) considering the Strategic Approach and sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020 that will start next week in Bucharest, Romania, and its preparatory briefings. The meeting will advance efforts to elaborate the future arrangements of the Strategic Approach and sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020 for consideration and adoption at the next session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5) in September 2023.

Toxic substances are also high on the agenda of the 51st session of the Human Rights Council (HRC51), that will take place in Geneva, from 12 September to 7 October. The Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights, Marcos Orellana, will present his report on mercury, small-scale gold mining and human rights, as well as the outcomes of his country visits to Mauritius and Italy. On the sidelines of HRC51, the Geneva Toxic Free Talks from 21-22 September, two days of conferences and discussions, will celebrate the 25 years of the mandate and raise awareness about the struggle for the right to live in a toxic free environment. For those interested in issues at the nexus of human rights and the environment, the Geneva Environment Network and its partners are convening and information sharing session on the activities related to HRC51 on Tuesday 6 September.

The Minamata Convention celebrated its 5th anniversary last week. The Secretariat launched various activities over the past week, including a factsheet on how to become a member, an article on the role of science, a course on mercury and gender and a video on the Specific International Programme. Lastly, the #MakeMercuryHistory Photo Contest will be open until 31 December 2022, inviting photographers from all over the world to raise awareness of the ongoing global concern of toxic mercury.

International Ecology Experts Gather for INTECOL 2022

The 13th International Congress of Ecology (INTECOL 2022) is bringing to Geneva ecology experts from around the world, from Sunday 28 August to Friday 2 September. The Conference will officially be launched on Monday 29 August, and various workshops are taking place on Sunday 28 August, including networking sessions for researchers and professionals. The Geneva Environment Network team will join the conference organizers and proposed two sessions open to all. Read more →

New Initiatives to Support Switzerland and Geneva Sustainability Strategies

Last week, the Swiss Federal Council adopted a new framework for green Confederation bonds. This new mechanism will diversify the Confederation’s financing instruments and be used exclusively for projects that have a positive impact on the environment, primarily in the areas of public transport, biodiversity, international cooperation and research. Through this innovative finance scheme, the Swiss government aims to promote the competitiveness of the Swiss financial centre, strengthen the application of international standards in Switzerland, and encourage the issuance of green bonds by private players. The first green bonds will be issued this autumn.

As we head toward UNFCCC COP27, attention also turns to climate action. In Switzerland, various initiatives are encouraging private companies to adopt targets and measures to reduce their carbon footprint. In a press release issued last week, WWF Switzerland welcomes the growing number of Swiss companies that commit to the Science Based Targets Initiative. Indeed, businesses which have adopted net zero targets have more than doubled over the last year.  In Geneva, the State launched the new initiative “Diagnostic-action” to support 45 small and medium enterprises in their path toward sustainability. The program aims to help selected companies active in the finance, construction, food and retail sectors, to identify actionable measures for a sustainable transition.

Welcoming Students at the Environment House

Since its creation in 1999, the Geneva Environment Network, with the support of its partners, has welcomed numerous student groups at the Environment House to introduce them to Geneva as a hub of global environmental governance and discuss specific environmental issues. Following the pandemic travel restrictions, we were delighted to welcome again groups over the spring and summer. We would like to sincerely thank all the experts who shared their insights on key issues at the heart of International Geneva with students. How to book a visit →

Many thanks […] for a wonderful presentation for our students. They found the talks fascinating and a wonderful balance of all the activities going on here in Geneva on environmental issues.  [The speakers] did a great job at engaging the students and leaving them with a sense not only of challenges but also possibilities.

Ambassador Mark C. Storella (ret)., Boston University

What (Else) Should I Read Next?

  • The Food System Summit’s Disconnection From People’s Real Needs | Michael Fakhri, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food | 17 August 2022
    The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food delivers his analysis of the UN Food System Summit held in September 2021, showing how the Summit brought very little to change to the substance of global food debates. The human right expert points out that the the Summit turned to be more of an inter-corporate contest and did not have any substantive regard for social justice or human rights. Looking forward, he recommends to focus efforts on addressing people’s immediate needs and pay close attention to the power structure in the current food system to understand the roots of the problems we are facing today.
  • Modest Modernization or Massive Setback? An analysis of the Energy Charter Treaty agreement in principle | IISD | August 2022
    The new IISD report analyses selected key aspects of the public communication explaining the main changes in the agreement in principle on the modernization of the ECT released by the Energy Charter Secretariat in June 2022. It examines how the revised ECT text will impact the goal of limiting global warming to 1.5°C, concluding that the reforms are insufficient to transform the ECT into an instrument that is compatible with the global climate agenda and states’ energy transition goals.
  • Is the U.N. declaration on a ‘human right to a healthy environment’ a meaningless gesture? | Tampa Bay Times | 16 August 2022
    In this opinion piece, William F. Felice, professor, author and expert on human rights and international relations, paints a clear picture of the significance of the recently adopted UN resolution on the right to a healthy environment. Her argues that UN nonbinding resolutions and declarations often positively affect Member States policy-making processes, while environmental activists increasingly use law to pressure countries to address critical environmental issues. As such, the right to a healthy environment gives the global community another tool to fight for ecological balance.
  • Ramsar COP14 Side Events Request Form | Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
    The 14th meeting of the Conference of the Contracting Parties to the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (COP14) will be held in Geneva and Wuhan, China, from 5 to 13 November 2022. Parties and stakeholders interested in hosting side events in Geneva are invited to apply by 31 August 2022.
  • ‘We’re desperate’: Louisiana’s ‘cancer alley’ residents decry environmental racism before the UN | UN News | 19 August 2022
    Three local organisations were in Geneva last week for the examination of the United States by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) to ask for years of racism and environmental injustice to stop.
  • 5th Session of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) on the biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) | IISD Earth Negotiations Bulletin Coverage
    UN Member States are gathering in New York for a round of negotiations on an international legally binding instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ). In The Guardian’s coverage, world leaders were also urged to agree to a treaty to protect marine life after groups say that the planet’s last wilderness are treated ‘recklessly’.
See all
See all
See all

20 Feb 2024

Ongoing Contests