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 | On her way to Davos for the 2024 Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, UN Environment Programme (UNEP) Executive Director Inger Andersen visited Geneva, where UNEP has its second-largest presence. While touching upon upcoming priorities and main milestones in the 2024 environmental agenda, she called for stronger integration among divisions, Multilateral Environmental Agreements and regional offices to tackle the triple planetary crisis. © UNEP/GEN.

The UN System’s Environmental Footprint | Findings of the Greening the Blue Report 2023

Sustainable United Nations and the Geneva Environment Network are hosting this week an event where UNEP will present the 2023 edition of the Greening the Blue report. Greening the Blue is a UN-wide initiative to engage and support UN system personnel in integrating environmental considerations into UN management decisions and activities, managed by UNEP’s Sustainable United Nations (SUN) Facility. The annual Greening the Blue report provides information on the environmental footprint of the United Nations and the efforts to reduce it. The 2023 edition which includes 2022 data, presents the environmental impacts of 57 entities from across the UN system and beyond, employing over 308,000 personnel in Headquarters, field offices, and in operations on the ground.

A panel of representatives from different UN Entities will bring concrete examples of their efforts to improve their environmental performance, including efforts on implementing environmental management, solarization, and reduction of plastic use. These efforts show how the UN system is walking the talk toward achieving the commitments of the Strategy for Sustainability Management in the United Nations System 2020 – 2030. → Find further information and register to attend in person or online on Thursday 25 January 2024 from 15:30 to 17:00 CET.

Bern III Conference | Synergies Among Biodiversity-Related Conventions

This week, representatives of biodiversity-related conventions and relevant conventions will meet in Bern to advance the Bern Process, a catalyzer for cooperation among Parties to biodiversity-related conventions that paved the way for the adoption of Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) in December 2022.

The Bern III Conference, hosted at the Universal Postal Union in Bern, from 23 to 25 January 2024, aims to strengthen cooperation and collaboration. It also aims to contribute to the effective and efficient implementation of the GBF and is recognized by decision 15/13 of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention of Biological Diversity. Among the deliverables of the conference is the identification of the next steps for the Bern Process, building on the experience of the Bern III Conference and the establishment of a strengthened network of “friends of the Bern process”, while championing synergies among their respective MEA negotiations. → Find the provisional agenda, the provisional programme and additional documents on the official webpage.

Making the Last Fish Month Ahead of MC13 Count

Last week, WTO members met for the first week of the ‘Fish Month‘, the last effort to agree on the text for the second wave of negotiations on fisheries subsidies at the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) in Abu Dhabi, from 26 to 29 February 2024. → Read DDG Ellard’s list of negotiating priorities and WTO reform issues ahead of MC13

While all members endorsed the draft text circulated on 21 December 2023 by the Chair, Amb. Einar Gunnarsson’s (Iceland), this month of discussions and negotiations on provisions to curb subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing will be devoted to finding convergence on issues and producing a clean text to consider at MC13. The ambition for closing the second round of negotiations is high and aims at putting down the bases for ensuring the entry into force of the Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies. Many members are working hard to deposit their instruments before MC13. → Watch Chair Amb. Einar Gunnarsson deliver a video message for Fish Month

Global Forum on Migration and Development Summit

The Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) a state-led, informal, and non-binding process that helps shape the global debate on migration and development will be holding its 14th Summit at the Geneva International Conference Centre, from 24 – 25 January 2024, under the French Chairmanship. This year’s Forum will revolve around the central theme “The impact of climate change on human mobility“, showing the importance of adopting an inclusive approach, from environmental concerns to cultural aspects of migration, to meet the challenges and increase the opportunities for human mobility. → Learn more about the 14th GFMD Summit.

Towards a Plastics Treaty

The fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment (INC-4) will take place in Ottawa, Canada from 21 to 29 April 2024. While no intersessional work was agreed upon at the third session (INC-3) in November 2023, work towards a Plastic Pollution Treaty continues informally in various fora.

Last week, at the 54th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum various sessions were dedicated to the Plastics Treaty.

Upcoming sessions relevant to INC-4 include:

Relevant news include:

  • The Global Cities Hub – Geneva released its comments to the revised draft for INC-4 and a position paper highlighting areas where local and regional governments (LRGs) can make a difference in dealing with plastic pollution, and how it should be best reflected in a new international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution that addresses the full life cycle of plastic.
  • UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen wrote the article ‘As a new plastics deal takes shape, companies must shift their business models now’ stressing the importance of broad stakeholder engagement in the final two rounds of negotiations “including the private sector, which must help negotiators get the market signals right for an economy that ends plastic pollution”.
  • Dangerous chemicals found in recycled plastics, making them unsafe for use – experts explain the hazards‘, by Bethanie Carney Almroth and Eric Carmona Martinez, highlights that to recycle more materials safely, necessary changes include: increased transparency regarding the use of chemicals and their risks; chemical simplification of the plastics market, so that fewer and less toxic chemicals are permitted for use; improved waste management infrastructure with separated waste streams; and improved recycling methods, including monitoring of hazardous chemicals.

Observing the First International Day of Clean Energy

The observation of the International Day of Clean Energy on 26 January was declared by the General Assembly (resolution A/77/327)  as a call to raise awareness and mobilize action for a just and inclusive transition to clean energy for the benefit of people and the planet. 26 January also marks the founding date of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), a global intergovernmental agency established in 2009 to support countries in their energy transitions, serve as a platform for international cooperation, and provide data and analyses on clean energy technology, innovation, policy, finance and investment.

Energy drives economies and sustains societies, but its production and use are the most significant contributors to global warming, accounting for roughly two-thirds of human-induced greenhouse gas emissions. Organizations in International Geneva and beyond are taking action toward a transition to sustainable energy for a cleaner future. → Find out more on the Transition to Sustainable Energy and the Role of Geneva

Supporting Niloufar Bayani and Other Environmental Conservationists

This week marks the sixth year of detention for Niloufar Bayani and other environmental conservationists working with her for the Persian Wildlife Heritage Foundation. Six years ago, Niloufar was imprisoned and subsequently sentenced to lengthy prison terms. At the time of her arrest, she had been working in Iran for only 6 months to monitor the critically endangered Persian or Asiatic cheetah. She was sentenced to 10 years and 4 months in prison. → Learn more in our update, Release of Niloufar Bayani and Other Environmental Conservationists Detained in Iran

Prior to returning to her home country, Niloufar worked for UNEP in Geneva, from 2012 to 2017, and was based at the International Environment House. She regularly contributed to activities of the Geneva Environment Network and other institutions in Geneva and around the world, leaving an excellent impression on all those she interacted with.

What (Else) to Read Next?

  • At Davos: USAID Launches New Initiative to Tackle Global Plague of Lead Poisoning | Health Policy Watch | 19 January 2024
    The US government will commit $4 million to tackle lead poisoning, supporting developing countries to curtail lead in consumer goods like paints and toys in which the use of lead is still widespread, USAID administrator Samantha Power announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
  • Is CITES Compliance Process Becoming a Game of Chance? | John E Scanlon AO | IISD SDG Knowledge Hub  | 18 January 2024
    The most recent meeting of the CITES Standing Committee, held in Geneva, Switzerland, in November 2023, considered a number of compliance matters and it showed, once again, the significant value of having a robust compliance process.
  • Environmental and youth groups win climate court case against the Norwegian State | Greenpeace International | 18 January 2024
    Greenpeace Nordic and Natur og Ungdom (Young Friends of the Earth Norway) secured a historic win against the Norwegian State, rendering the approvals of three oil and gas fields in the North Sea invalid. 
  • MEPs adopt new law banning greenwashing and misleading product information | European Parliament News | 18 January 2024
    The directive adopted with 593 votes in favour, 21 against and 14 abstentions seeks to protect consumers from misleading marketing practices and help them make better purchasing choices. To achieve this, a number of problematic marketing habits related to greenwashing and the early obsolescence of goods will be added to the EU list of banned commercial practices.
  • Ubiquitous acceleration in Greenland Ice Sheet calving from 1985 to 2022 | Chad A. Greene, Alex S. Gardner, Michael Wood & Joshua K. Cuzzone | Nature | 17 January 2024
    Nearly every glacier in Greenland has thinned or retreated over the past few decades, leading to glacier acceleration, increased rates of sea-level rise and climate impacts around the globe. […] The mass loss we report has had minimal direct impact on the global sea level but is sufficient to affect ocean circulation and the distribution of heat energy around the globe.
  • Chile becomes first country to ratify UN treaty for protection of high seas | EFE |17 January 2024
    Chile became the first country in the world on Tuesday to ratify the Global Ocean Treaty, a historic agreement for the conservation of marine biodiversity in international waters. The treaty seeks to protect 30 percent of the high seas by 2030.
  • 5 Breakthroughs on Climate and Health at COP28 – and What Comes Next | Arthur Wyns, COP28 Climate and Health Advisor | 15 January 2024
    Health has long been absent from UN climate summits — a major oversight given climate change is already affecting the health of people and communities around the world. The health impacts of climate change range from air pollution to heat waves, infectious diseases, food and water insecurity, mental health, and more.
  • Women added to Cop29 climate summit committee after backlash | The Guardian | 19 January 2024
    The president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, amended the composition of the COP29 Organizing Committee, initially composed of only men.
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