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, or visit our website regularly for additional updates.

Due to the developments in the sanitary situation, most institutions in Geneva are 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.

Celebrating World Water Day

World Water Day, celebrated each year on 22 March, is the occasion to strengthen action to address the global water crisis and achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6 – water and sanitation for all by 2030. The theme for 2021, “Valuing water“, emphasizes that the way we value water determines how water is managed and shared. The value of water is about much more than its price – water has enormous and complex value for our households, culture, health, education, economics and the integrity of our natural environment.

The official celebration, hosted by UN Water, will be held online on 22 March 2021, at 13.00 CET. Find more resources and discover the Geneva-based actors working on water-related issues in our update.

Celebrating World Meteorological Day

World Meteorological Day takes place on 23 March every year, commemorating the establishment of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The theme for 2021 is “The ocean, our climate and weather“, celebrating the WMO’s focus in connecting the ocean, climate and weather within the Earth system. It also marks the launch of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030), which galvanizes efforts to gather ocean science – through innovative and transformative ideas – as the basis of information to support sustainable development.

All members of the Geneva environment community are invited to join the virtual ceremony at 13.00 CET. Our update provides more information on actors & initiatives in International Geneva on weather and climate.

Environment @ HRC46 and Beyond

The 46th regular session of the Human Rights Council (HRC46) will conclude this week in Geneva and virtually. Our update on HRC-46 provides relevant information, links and other resources regarding the environmental-related activities of this session.

Although a potential mandate for a Special Rapporteur on climate change is not on the agenda of HRC46, many actors are actively engaged to build momentum for this discussion at a later session. A new publication launched by OHCHR addresses the Frequently Asked Questions on Human Rights and Climate Change. On the agenda this week:

  • The Human Rights and Climate Change Geneva Dialogues high-level session on Human Rights Institutions and the Implementation of the Paris Agreement, co-organized by CIEL, OHCHR, Earthjustice and Natural Justice, with the support of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, will take place on 24 March. This session will discuss how specific human rights institutions and processes can effectively contribute to addressing climate-related issues and how to foster synergies between the implementation processes for the Paris Agreement and the mandates of human rights bodies. Register and join at 14.00 CET.
  • The Geneva Interfaith Forum on Climate Change, Environment and Human Rights is bringing together on 26 March voices and visions from small island states, Indigenous Peoples, youth, and faith communities with a view to establishing the connections between climate change and human rights. Register and join at 10.00 CET.

The Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent public virtual 28th session on Environmental Justice, the Climate Crisis and People of African Descent will be held from 24 to 26 March, from 14.00-16.00 CET. This thematic session, that can be followed in UNTV, will involve a comprehensive look at various aspects of environmental racism and the climate crisis locally and globally. In the run-up to this session:

Spring Has Sprung

Spring has arrived, announcing not only the return of sunny days, warmer temperature and burgeoning flowers, but also kickstarting a strong year for nature, climate and biodiversity. As major conferences for the environment will be held this year (see our update on international negotiations for the latest news and dates), this spring should be the time to build momentum and raise ambition.

  • The Sustainability Week Geneva, hosted by the University of Geneva and the Graduate Institute from 22-26 March, offers a wide variety of activities on climate change and other environmental issues. The goal of the initiative, happening in various Swiss cities throughout the spring, is to promote sustainability in Swiss higher education institutions and in society at various levels.
  • The Canton of Geneva is inviting spring into the city, with the Nature en Ville contest, open to applications until 30 April 2021.
  • On the last Saturday of March, Earth Hour unites millions of people across the world to raise awareness of the issues facing our planet by switching off the lights at home at 20.30. This year, Earth Hour Virtual Spotlight aims to re-create the same unmissable sight online by taking over the social media feeds.
  • Next month, the Geneva Environment Network and IUCN will launch the Geneva Nature-based Solutions Dialogues, aiming to facilitate further engagement and discussion among the stakeholders in International Geneva and beyond, in the lead-up to a critical year for nature and society.

What (Else) Should I Read Next?

  • Report examines meteorological and air quality factors and COVID-19 | WMO | 18 March 2021
    New report showing that government interventions rather than meteorological factors primarily curb COVID-19 spread, thus suggesting that weather and climate conditions should not be used as a trigger to relax measures to halt the spread of the virus
  • In campaign against plastic pollution, the world is making tentative progress | UNEP | 17 March 2021
    Progress report from UNEP and Ellen MacArthur Foundation concluding that, despite the progress made over the past year through the Global Commitment to the New Plastics Economy, the world needs to ramp up actions to address single-use plastics and curb plastic pollution
  • Research shows that climate change is altering the water regime | FOEN | 16 March 2021
    Extensive study by the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) and the National Centre for Climate Services on the impacts of climate change on water regimes, stressing the need for climate-related measures to address water shortages, reduce risks of natural hazards, and protect biodiversity.
  • Protecting the global ocean for biodiversity, food and climate | Sala et al. | Nature | 17 March 2021
    A substantial increase in ocean protection could have triple benefits, by protecting biodiversity, boosting the yield of fisheries and securing marine carbon stocks that are at risk from human activities.
  • Are Countries Walking the Talk on Cutting Carbon? | IISD | 16 March 2021
    Opinion piece on the revised commitments from parties to the Paris Agreement, pointing out to two critical components of ambitious climate action that are lacking: carbon pricing and fossil fuel subsidy reform.
  • Is the UNECE region on trackfor 2030? | UNECE | March 2021
    If the UNECE region follows current trends, it will meet only 23 of 169 SDGs targets by 2030, warns new report.
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Gold Standard


Budget Officer

22 Mar 2021

Gold Standard Foundation

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