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Image of the week | On 17 January, at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, the Geneva Day at the House of Switzerland hosted a series of high-level events, organized by the Permanent Mission of Switzerland in Geneva, to discuss global issues and connect leaders present in Davos with Geneva-based global governance institutions. The first session focused on Beat Plastic Pollution. On the photo, H.E. Alain Berset, President of the Swiss Confederation, H.E. Guillermo Lasso Mendoza, President of the Republic of Ecuador, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of WHO, H.E. Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, Minister of Environment of the Republic of Rwanda, and Marco Lambertini, WWF Special Envoy.

Ending Plastic Pollution Agenda in Geneva and Beyond

The Intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC) to develop a legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment, is collecting inputs to prepare a document with potential options for elements towards an international legally binding instrument. This document could include both legally binding and voluntary measures. The statements received are being compiled and made available the INC website.

As of 20 January, 168 written submissions from various stakeholders were already available. Highly engaged in the process, actors and stakeholders from International Geneva have provided submissions: BRS | Business Coalition for a Global Plastics Treaty | CIEL | Geneva Cities Hub | GAHP | ILO | ISOITUC | IUCN | OHCHRUNCTAD | Water Convention Secretariat | UNECE | WBCSD | WEF and Global Plastic Action Partnership | WWF. Members of the Committee can still send their inputs to, until 10 February.

Various events are taking place around the world to prepare for the second session of the Intergovernmental negotiating committee (INC-2), to take place this spring in Paris. While the Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution Dialogues will start reconvening next month, this week the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO), and the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), are organizing a briefing for delegates of the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution to discuss trade measures. The event is limited to State delegates and will take place on 24 January 2023, between 16.00 – 18.00 CET, followed by a dinner starting at 19.15 CET for delegates that are in Geneva. → Register for the webinar and for the dinner

Recent plastic-related news include:

  • Switzerland and Ecuador Appeal for Treaty to End the ‘Plastic Crisis’ | John Heilprin | Health Policy Watch | 17 January 2023
    The presidents of Switzerland and Ecuador led a call at the World Economic Forum  for greater international cooperation to fight plastic pollution, urging passage of a global treaty with tough regulations to confront a burgeoning environmental and health crisis from the ubiquitous material once seen as a symbol of modernity.
  • WHO Director General intervention at the Geneva Day hosted at House of Switzerland during WEF23 | 17 January 2023
    Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus doesn’t think the connection between plastics and health has been “given the attention it needed.” While doing more research to document how plastics affect human life throughout the lifecycle, we should also make use of the studies that already exist. A toothbrush can break down in 500 years, if at all. It’s not about us, it’s about the many generations to come.
  • Plastic Waste Power Play: The offshoring and recycling displacement involved in trying to recycle EU plastic waste | Environmental Investigation Agency | 16 January 2023
    The report has found that EU plastic waste exports are taking up limited plastic waste recycling capacity in recipient countries. The vast majority of plastic has never been recycled, and the exporting of plastic waste from high-income, high plastic consuming countries helps perpetuate the linear status quo, rather than focusing on the reduction of plastic consumption.
  • The African Marine Litter Outlook | Thomas Maes & Fiona Preston-Whyte, eds. | 2023
    This open access book provides a cross-sectoral, multi-scale assessment of marine litter in Africa with a focus on plastics. From distribution, to impacts on environmental and human health, this book looks at what is known scientifically.
  • New finance leadership group supporting development of international agreement to end plastic pollution | UNEP FI | 17 January 2023
    The Finance Leadership Group on Plastics will provide input and suggestions to the Intergovernmental Negotiation Committee on the desired outcomes for banks, insurers and investors. It will also build readiness in the finance sector to act on plastic pollution through awareness raising, capacity building, and target-setting support.

Progress on Trade and the Environment

World leaders and other stakeholders who met in Davos last week for the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, engaged in various discussions on trade and the environment, leading to important achievements.

Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies | Last Friday, Switzerland became the first WTO member to formally submit its acceptance of the WTO’s new Agreement on Fisheries Subsidies, paving the way for the historic agreement for ocean sustainability to enter into force. Acceptance from two-thirds of WTO members are needed for the Agreement to come into effect. The agreement was adopted by consensus at the WTO’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12) held in Geneva last June, setting new binding, multilateral rules to curb harmful subsidies, which are a key factor in the widespread depletion of the world’s fish stocks. In addition, the Agreement recognizes the needs of developing and least-developed countries (LDCs) and establishes a Fund to provide technical assistance and capacity building to help them implement the Agreement. The Agreement prohibits subsidies to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, and bans subsidies for fishing overfished stocks and for fishing on the unregulated high seas. Members also agreed at MC12 to continue negotiations on outstanding issues, with a view to making recommendations by MC13 for additional provisions that would further enhance the disciplines of the Agreement.

Coalition of Trade Ministers on Climate | Last Thursday, over 50 Ministers of Trade representing a diversity of countries from all regions and levels of development launched a Coalition of Trade Ministers on Climate. Led by trade ministers from Ecuador, the European Union, Kenya and New Zealand, the Coalition seeks to provide high-level leadership and guidance to boost inclusive international cooperation on the nexus of climate, trade, and sustainable development.

Ciné Environment House | Chaos in the climate of the Sundarbans

Ciné Environment House, free screenings organized at the Environment House, returns this year with “Chaos in the climate of the Sundarbans“, a short ‘moving picture’ demonstrating some early findings of the study for mapping the degradation of the Sundarbans ecosystems in the last three decades. In the light of climate change, the mutual relationship between health and development has already been in question. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic again underscores that the limitless growth model of economic development is often at odds with nature and the sustainability of natural resources, and in turn negatively impacting the health security of population across the world.

Premiered at the International Ecology Congress (INTECOL) in Geneva in 2022, a roundtable discussion will be held on some findings of the study, as well as broader discussions on fostering the One Health approach. → Join us in person or online on Wednesday 25 January at 12.45 CET.

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