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.

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.

Image of the week | Arve riverbank, close to Jonction‎. ©UNEP, Pablo Arturo Lopez.

Pollution: From Science to Policy and Action

In the run-up to the second segment of the 5th Session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2), and other important negotiations on chemicals, waste and pollution, taking place this year, various studies and calls are being issued in order to support decision makers in taking ambitious decisions as inaction is not an option.

Planetary Boundary for Pollutants – Including Plastics – Exceeded

For the first time, an international team of researchers has assessed the impact of the cocktail of synthetic chemicals and other “novel entities” on the stability of the Earth system. In a study published last week, the team presents overwhelming evidence that chemicals and plastics have negative effects on planetary health and reveal that humanity has already exceeded the safe planetary boundary in that regard. These results call for swift and ambitious actions to reduce the production and release of pollutants. The article concludes that the recent call for an international science-policy body with oversight over chemicals and waste may provide a forum for informing such actions that are needed to help safeguard the Earth system.

Another report “Connecting the Dots: Plastic pollution and the planetary emergency”, published last week by the Environmental Investigation Agency, presents an overview of the irreversible pollution resulting from rampant overproduction of virgin plastics and their life cycle, which directly undermines human health, drives biodiversity loss, exacerbates climate change, and risks generating large-scale harmful environmental changes. The document outlines recommendations to UN members states on how to address the plastic emergency in the context of the UN Environment Assembly, the negotiation of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and the Paris Agreement.

17th meeting of the Persistent Organic Pollutants Review Committee | POPRC.17

The Stockholm Convention’s scientific body Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) Review Committee – a 31-member expert committee tasked with reviewing proposals submitted by a party to list a new substance under the Convention – meets this week in Geneva, to consider various POPs for possible elimination, including the plastic additive UV-328.  Find out more about the new POPs proposed for global elimination:

Towards a New Global Instrument  on Plastic Pollution

In the run-up to UNEA-5.2, discussions are steering toward the concrete aspects of a possible plastics treaty. Last week’s session of the Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution Dialogues offered insights into finance and technical cooperation mechanisms that could be included into the new agreement. Participants relayed the call for a legally binding UN treaty on plastic pollution from over 70 leading businesses and financial institutions in a pre-UNEA statement, issued also last week.

To understand the types of international legal instruments that states can pursue to address the full life cycle of plastics, a new publication by the Centre for International Environmental Law, “Toward a New Instrument Addressing the Full Life Cycle of Plastics: Overview of the Typology of International Legal Instruments”, released last week, provides a non-exhaustive analysis of various instruments. It considers the practical distinctions, including title and the inception of the negotiation process, and provides a background on the preparation and negotiation of international instruments. The review highlights treaty-making tools to consider during current discussions and future negotiations.

Action is needed at all levels to prevent and reduce plastic pollution. The Geneva Cities Hub and UN-Habitat are hosting a new session of the Geneva Urban Debates on the role of cities in the fight and negotiations to beat plastic pollution. The Plastics wrap-trap: what about cities in inter-states negotiations? is co-sponsored by Norway and the Geneva Environment Network. Register and join us on Monday, 24 January, at 15.00 CET!

Finance for Nature & the Role of G20

Harnessing sufficient financing for action for the environment is crucial if we are to successfully tackle the triple planetary crisis. In May 2021, the United Nations Environment Programme and partners released the ‘State of Finance for Nature – Tripling Investments in Nature-based Solutions by 2030’, a report tracking global trends in public and private investment in Nature-based Solutions. The publication revealed that a total investment in nature of USD 8.1 trillion is required between now and 2050 – while annual investment should reach USD 536 billion annually by 2050 – to successfully tackle the interlinked climate, biodiversity, and land degradation crises.

G20 countries make up approximately 53 per cent of the total annual investment needed and have the capacity to meet this investment need as they carry out most of the global economic and financial activity with fiscal leeway. A new analysis, ‘State of Finance for Nature in the G20’, attempts to capture the complete amount and future needs for G20 spending on land-related Nature-based Solutions assets and activities. This report and its subsequent recommendations will be presented this week. Register and join online on Thursday, 27 January, at 15.00 CET, for the  G20: Financing Nature-based Solutions session, to learn more about how we can close a USD 4.1 trillion financing gap in nature by 2050.

FIN: A Dive into Marine Life Conservation

Over 100 million sharks are killed every year through illegal and unsustainable fishing practices, and populations are declining more rapidly than they can recover, as sharply pictured in the new documentary FIN, following a group of scientists, activists, and researchers traveling around the world to expose this often ignored problem. Join Sea Shepherd Switzerland on Wednesday, 26 January 2021, at 20:00 CET, for the screening of the movie at the Natural History Museum of Geneva, followed by a discussion with the two captains from Sea Shepherd missions: Alex Cornelissen & Peter Hammarstedt, to discover more about Sea Shepherd’s campaigns battling illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing.

Celebrating Wetlands in Geneva

World Wetlands Day is celebrated each year on 2 February to raise awareness about wetlands and celebrate the anniversary of the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention). The theme for the 2022 edition is Wetlands Action for People and Natureand it highlights the importance of actions that ensure that wetlands are conserved and sustainably used. This year’s celebration is especially significant — as on the 30 August 2021, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution that established 2 February as a United Nations international day, — inviting all 193 UN member states to observe the day, opening the door for greater global visibility for wetlands.

As the headquarters of the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention and of various international and non-governmental organizations active for nature protection, the Geneva region is an important hub of expertise and action for wetland conservation. Activities in Geneva to celebrate the day are starting already on 30 January, with events aimed at reconnecting people with nature and raising awareness of the importance of wetlands to our lives through the ecosystem services they provide. Find more information about the day and related activities in our update.

Engage in Upcoming Processes for a Healthy Planet

As we look forward to the year ahead of us, many opportunities await for the Geneva community to get involved in ongoing and upcoming environmental governance processes at various levels.

  • The Second International Conference on Environmental Peacebuilding will take place virtually from 1 to 4 February 2022. The Environmental Peacebuilding Association® (EnPAx™) and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies (IHEID) are convening the conference in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP),  the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform, the Geneva Water Hub, the Geneva Environment Network, and the PeaceNexus Foundation. Register and join the 75+ panels, 330+ speakers from 60+ countries.
  • On 2-3 June, Stockholm+50 will be an opportunity to draw on 50 years of multilateral environmental action to reflect on the bold and urgent action needed to secure a better future on a healthy planet. The conference and its preparatory meeting on 28 March are envisioned as open and inclusive forums that will feature a diverse set of voices to help build a healthy planet for the prosperity of all. All organizations looking to participate in person (including hosting and/or attending side events) must be accredited. Organizations looking to apply for special accreditation for Stockholm+50 and its preparatory meeting must do so by 4 February 2022. Visit the official Stockholm+50 website for detailed information on who needs accreditation and how to apply.
  • From 28 August to 2 September 2022, Geneva will host the International Congress of Ecology – INTECOL2022, under the theme “Frontiers in ecology: science and society”. The organizing committee is looking for contributions to the congress thematic sessions. Interested parties should submit their proposal by Monday, 24 January. For those who are already looking forward to joining the event, registration will be open from 31 January onward.
  • Check the Geneva Environment Network upcoming events.

What (Else) Should I Read Next?

  • Why protecting the planet is essential to preventing future pandemics| Marco Lambertini (WWF), Gim Huay Neo (WEF) and Elizabeth Mrema (CBD) | 17 January 2022
    Our broken relationship with the natural world makes us vulnerable to pandemics, as COVID-19 has revealed. High-level executives from WWF, WEF and UN CBD share their insights on what governments and businesses need to do to prevent future pandemics.
  • Future-proofing Supply of Critical Minerals for Net-Zero: Cross-sectoral Perspectives | UK Permanent Mission & UNECE | 19 January 2021
    This report summarizes important discussions on critical raw materials for building net-zero economies that took place last November. Ensuring a resilient, sustainable, and ethical supply of these materials is essential as their demand will grow fast in response to the need to meet the goals of the Glasgow Climate Pact under the Paris Agreement.
  • How to Ensure a Resilient Global Biodiversity Framework to Disaster and Climate Risks? | GEN, PEDRR & FEBA | 20 January 2022
    Outcomes of the session drawing attention to the importance of integrating resilience in the Global Biodiversity Framework for greater alignment with the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Paris Agreement and the new Glasgow Pact, prior to the final face-to-face negotiations of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework to take place early in 2022.
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Genève célèbre les zones humides

30 Jan 2022

Lagune des Eaux-Vives

Republic and State of Geneva, Muséum d’histoire naturelle, ASL, Pro Natura Genève, La Libellule

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Copy Editor

27 Jan 2022

UNEP Disasters and Conflicts Branch

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19 Apr 2022

Towards UNEA-5.2

20 Feb 2024

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