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 also on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, and Youtube, or visit our website regularly for additional updates.

Image of the week | On Earth Day, the iconic landmark Geneva Jet d’eau lit up in blue and green, the Save Soil movement colors.

Towards the Plastics Treaty | The Road to Paris

In the run-up to the second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment (Plastic Pollution INC-2), to take place in Paris at the end of May, mobilization is growing.

Events in preparation for INC-2 | Various events in preparation for INC-2 are taking place in Geneva and beyond this week, including:

  • Briefing on INC-2 | This timely event, organized in partnership with France within the framework of the Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution Dialogues, will host members of the Secretariat to provide updates on the preparations for INC-2 and stakeholders from different sectors to give an encompassing overview of perspectives on the process. The briefing will take stock of the options for elements document recently released by the INC Secretariat and set the tone for what negotiations in Paris will address. Register for the event taking place on Thursday 27 April 2023 at 15:00 CEST.
  • Nordic Stakeholders Webinar on the Global Agreement on Plastic Pollution  | Nordic countries, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, are hosting a webinar for Nordic stakeholders on the ongoing negotiations for a global agreement to end plastic pollution by 2040. The webinar is taking place on 25 April 2023 at 10:00 CEST.
  • Trade-Related Measures for a Treaty to End Plastic Pollution | The Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) and the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) are hosting on 26 April 2023 at 16:00 CEST a webinar followed by a quiet diplomacy dinner on Trade-Related Measures for a Treaty to End Plastic Pollution.
  • High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution | The Government of Australia is hosting a webinar ‘Eliminate and restrict problematic single-use plastic products and packaging’, on 26 April 2023 at 02:00 AM CEST.
  • INC Secretariat Technical Briefings | The INC Secretariat will host the first of a series of six technical briefings in preparation for the negotiations in Paris. The Technical Briefing on the Potential Options for Elements document will be taking place on 28 April 2023 at 14:00-15:00 CEST.

Mapping of the existing global governance landscape for plastics and associated chemicals | UN Environment Assembly resolution 5/14, “End plastic pollution: towards an international legally binding instrument” adopted in March 2022 called for enhanced cooperation, coordination, and complementarity among relevant regional and international conventions and instruments. The Basel, Rotterdam, and Stockholm Conventions commissioned an independent report, produced by the University of Wollongong, Australia, with inputs from various actors, that provides the first comprehensive mapping of the existing global governance landscape for plastics and associated chemicals. The mapping includes both binding and voluntary measures adopted at the global level that explicitly refer to plastics and chemicals found in plastics, as well as measures that may encompass plastics and associated chemicals by inference. This report offers insights into gaps and opportunities to strengthen plastics governance, which is currently insufficient for meeting the ambition of ending plastic pollution. The report also offers groundbreaking insights into chemicals used in plastics. For example, out of the 13,000 chemicals possibly used in plastics as monomers, additives, processing aids, and NIAS, 3,200 are verified to be chemicals of potential concern, but the figure could be bigger considering that hazard data is missing for 6,000 chemicals. Moreover, only 1% of chemicals of concern used in plastics are regulated under MEAs, such as the Stockholm Convention, the Minamata Convention, and the Montreal Protocol.

Additional resources | Recent news and resources on plastics include:

  • A Critical Arctic Organism Is Now Infested With Microplastics | Wired | 21 April 2023
    The algae Melosira arctica is the foundation of the food chain, and its contamination could have major consequences for ecosystems and the climate.
  • Antarctica is beautiful – but fishing and plastic pollution are changing it | Yahoo News | 20 April 2023
    Researcher Emily Cunningham shares her experience in Antarctica where she grasped the scale of the environmental challenges facing the continent, including the impact of microplastics that lead to believe that Antarctica is a ‘sink’ for plastics from all over the world. 
  • The Perils of PVC Plastic Pipes | Environmental Health Science, Beyond Plastics and Plastic Pollution Coalition | 20 April 2023
    New Report raises questions about the safety of using PVC Plastic Pipes for drinking water.
  • Our Way of Life is Poisoning US | Jack Sachs | The New York Times | 19 April 2023
    The ever-increasing evidence that microplastics are present in human bodies signals both the damage we are doing to the world and what the damaged world is doing to us.
  • The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is now so huge and permanent that a coastal ecosystem is thriving on it, scientists say | CNN | 18 April 2023
    A new study found that communities of coastal creatures, including tiny crabs and anemones, living thousands of miles from their original home have been thriving for years on plastic debris in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch – a 620,000 square mile swirl of trash in the ocean between California and Hawaii.
  • Texas to New Jersey: Tracking the Toxic Chemicals in the Ohio Train Inferno | The New York Times | 17 April 2023
    The plastic production industry in the USA is receiving important investments that will allow it to expand in the next years. As plastic production increases, more hazardous materials and their associated risks will move across the country.
  • Why Recycling Plants Keep Catching on Fire | Time | 13 April 2023
    Fires in recycling in the U.S. and Canada have increased by more than a third since 2017, hitting 390 in 2022. By the end of March this year, 75 more had taken place. The causes are in the products people recycle, which include large stockpiles of plastic waste.

Science-Policy Panel on the Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste and Prevent Pollution | The Road to OEWG 2

In the lead-up to the establishment of a Science-Policy Panel to contribute further to the sound management of chemicals and waste and to prevent pollution, a series of webinars and events organized by the ad hoc open-ended working group (OEWG) Secretariat and Geneva Environment Network on the road to the second session of the ad hoc open-ended working group, in December 2023, is kicking off this week. The series aims to build bridges, promote collaboration and knowledge sharing between and among stakeholders, and raise public awareness about the process of developing the panel as well as its ultimate scope, shape, and function. The first session will focus on contributing to the development of a set of operating principles for the new panel, drawing insights from the operating principles of four existing science-policy panels. Member States will then be invited to provide submissions on a set of operating principles for the SPP, to be presented at OEWG 2. → Register for the online event taking place on 26 April 2023, 13:00 – 14:30 CEST.

Issues of Concern | Chemicals and Waste Issues Posing Risks to Human Health and the Environment

UN Environment Assembly Resolution 5/7, adopted in March 2022, requested UNEP to seek views from Member States and other stakeholders on priorities for further work, building on existing measures and initiatives, and potential further international action on the issues discussed in the Assessment Report on Issues of Concern with regards to the current situation of specific chemicals and waste issues. The resolution also requests for the preparation of a summary analysis, taking into account the views received. In response, UNEP will conduct a consultation on priorities for further work and potential further international action on Issues of concern, including the following:

  • An information-sharing webinar will introduce the 19 issues of concern discussed in the Assessment Report on Issues of Concern to provide an overview of the report’s findings. Register for the webinar taking place on 27 April 2023, 13:30 – 15:00 CEST.
  • A call for written inputs will be sent to gather views from Member States and other stakeholders on the priorities for future work and potential further international action.
  • A face-to-face Global Consultation will be arranged later in the year to hold a discussion on the topic and gather further views.
  • A summary of views will be drafted for consideration at the sixth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-6).

Towards the 2023 Meetings of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions

Less than one week to go to the sixteenth meeting Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention (BC COP-16), the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention (RC COP-11), and the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention (SC COP-11), held in Geneva from 1 to 12 May 2023. Under the theme “Accelerating action: targets for the sound management of chemicals and waste, the BRS Triple COP will be full of activities to advance the global governance of sound management of chemicals and waste, from the Fair on Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs), various side events to the Geneva Canton Truck on PCBs, Asbestos and Lead. → With preparations in full swing, consult our regularly updated page for what to expect and look out for during the two-week gathering of key actors and stakeholders from Geneva and beyond.

Global Governance of Mineral Resources

UNEA Resolution on Minerals and Metals Management | In preparation for the Global Intergovernmental Meeting on UNEA Resolution 5/12 on Minerals and Metals Management taking place in Geneva, on 7 and 8 September 2023, relevant meeting and updates include:

Deep Sea Mining | New article provides views on the International Seabed Authority’s decision on whether deep sea mining is the key to the climate transition or a “false solution”. →  Read “On the Edge of the Abyss” by Emmy Hawker in ESG Investor, issued on 19 April 2023

Continuous Advance of Climate Change

The WMO State of the Global Climate 2022 released last week highlights the planetary scale changes on land, in the ocean, and in the atmosphere caused by record levels of heat-trapping greenhouse gases. For global temperature, 2015-2022 was the eighth warmest on record despite the cooling impact of a La Niña event for the past three years. Melting of glaciers and sea level rise — which again reached record levels in 2022 — will continue for up to thousands of years. The WMO report follows the release of the State of the Climate in Europe report by the EU’s Copernicus Climate Change Service. It complements the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report, which includes data up to 2020.

Glacier Melting | The WMO report also highlights that in Switzerland, 6% of the glacier ice volume was lost between 2021 and 2022 – and one-third between 2001 and 2022. For the first time in history, no snow survived the summer melt season even at the very highest measurement sites and thus no accumulation of fresh ice occurred. New record temperatures were reported from the summit of Mont Blanc.

European State of the Climate 2022 | Last week, the European State of the Climate 2022 report was also released by the Copernicus Climate Change Service. The report found that the 2022 summer in Europe was the warmest on record and that the year also reached a record loss of ice from glaciers in the Alps. High temperatures and drought across the continent sparked large fires, with 2022 becoming the period during which the second-highest burnt area was recorded across the EU countries. Unusually warm conditions saw the Antarctic sea ice reach its lowest minimum extent on record in February, and the Greenland ice sheet hitting record melt of at least 23% of its area impacted during one of three heatwaves in September. Learn more and navigate the results

Historic Asia heat breaks hundreds of records | Historic Asia heat breaks hundreds of records, with extremes in Thailand and China writes Dan Stillman in the Washington Post, on 17 April 2023. Numerous heat records have been broken across Southeast Asia, China, and other parts of the continent in recent days as the region remains in the grip of a dangerously scorching heat wave.

UN Secretary-General letter to his great-great-granddaughter | The Head of the United Nations Makes a Climate-Change Apology to His Future Great-Great-Granddaughter. Read the newsletter published in Times

Environment @ Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week

The 2023 edition of the Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week (HNPW 2023) resumes this week in Geneva. The programme features a number of sessions addressing environmental challenges and opportunities in humanitarian response. Numerous sessions addressing environment-related issues are on the agenda this week. → Check the selection of events.

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