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 | As part of Geneva Lux, a free festival of lights organized yearly by the City of Geneva, the installation “Mer sauvage” by Swiss artist Jonathan Valentin – inspired by big wave surfing – plunges the visitor into the tube of a giant breaking wave. → Find in our update more activities to enjoy a Green Winter in Geneva.

Launch and Panel Discussion | Global Criteria to Address Problematic, Unnecessary and Avoidable Plastic Products

The Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution Dialogues are resuming this week with the launch and panel discussion on the Nordic Council of Minsters’ report “Global Criteria to Address Problematic, Unnecessary and Avoidable Plastic Products“. The report aims to support the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution in shaping the plastics instrument through possible criteria for determining plastic products into three distinct classifications: problematic, unnecessary, and avoidable. These classifications are essential for developing control strategies specific to each and supporting the phase-out of these plastic products. The authors suggest options for how this can be achieved under the future global instrument to end plastic pollution by promoting alternate practices or non-plastic substitutes, and by redesigning essential plastic products for safety and sustainability. These core strategies should be based on criteria that are focused on product function, end-use, and essentiality. → Register on Webex and join the event on 1 February 2024 from 14:00 to 15:30 CET.

Next week, a new session of the Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution Dialogues, co-organized with the Forum on Trade, Environment & the SDGs (TESS) will provide governments and stakeholders with a holistic overview of options and pathways for mobilizing resources for effective treaty implementation, systems change, and the just transitions required to end plastic pollution. → Register on Webex to attend the event on 7 February 2024 from 15:30 to 17:00 CET

Geneva Conversations on the Environmental Cost of Weapons and Conflicts

Geneva is one of the most active centers of global governance and an operational hub for multilateral diplomacy, gathering a large pool of expertise, including in the field of disarmament and the protection of civilians in armed conflicts, thus offering opportunities to explore interlinkages with other workstreams such as the protection of the environment. This week, two sessions in Geneva will address the impact of weapons and conflicts on people and the environment:

  • The Geneva Branch of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs will dedicate the fifth session of the Geneva Disarmament Conversation Series to weapons and their environmental impact.  The protection of the environment in armed conflict is an obligation for States under international humanitarian law. The use of weapons in conflict causes soil degradation and pollution. Toxic chemicals remain in the ground after the end of hostilities, constitute a health hazard for affected communities, and are a dangerous source of pollution for their water resources and food chain. Environmental considerations are of paramount importance in surveys, clearance, and stockpile destruction activities. While the discussion will focus on the environmental costs of weapons, it will also touch upon possibilities to further streamline this aspect into disarmament efforts. → Register to join the event on 30 January 2024 from 13:15 to 15:00 CET at Palais des Nations, Room XXV.
  • The Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council, the Geneva Water Hub, and PAX will host a webinar, ‘The protection of civilians in Gaza: environmental injustice and human rights abuse‘ addressing the protection of civilians in the armed conflict in Gaza under human rights law. While addressing the status of the application of human rights law during armed conflicts, the webinar will discuss the long-term environmental impacts of the armed conflict in Gaza and their consequences on livelihoods, health, or food sectors.  → Register on Zoom to join on 1 February 2024 from 15:00 to 16:30 CET.

Ambitious Action to Tackle and Prevent Climate Change and Pollution Impacts on Health

The 154th session of the Executive Board of the World Health Organization concluded last Saturday, discussing climate change, pollution, and health under agenda item 22, referring to the two reports issued by the WHO Director-General and a draft resolution:

Member States delivered statements in support of ambitious actions and synergies to tackle these crises, which included:

  • Switzerland delivered a statement on behalf of Canada, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, México, Monaco, Norway, Panama, Peru, the EU and its 27 member states, and Switzerland, welcoming the Director-General’s report on “Climate Change, Pollution, and Health”, and its proposals to enhance WHO engagement in ongoing processes, and to further WHO action and take a more active role in global chemicals management to protect human health, including in the implementation of the Global Framework on Chemicals, adopted in Bonn, Germany in September 2023. Other recommendations include the update of the Chemicals Road Map, the realization of a Health Day in association with Plastic Pollution INC-4, to be held in Ottawa, Canada, and for the WHO Secretariat and WHO Member States to find creative funding mechanisms to address the health focus on environmental degradation and the adverse effects of climate.→ Read the statement
  • Peru delivered a statement on behalf of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Kenya, Fiji, Barbados, the United Kingdom, and Peru, the core group for the resolution on Climate Change and Health, and its co-sponsors Monaco and the United Arab Emirates. The resolution builds on the political momentum of the Health Day at COP28, committing WHO to concrete and bold actions on climate change. → Read the statement

Find out more in the article of Elaine Ruth Fletcher in Health Policy Watch — WHO Asks Member States: Join Talks on Global Plastics Treaty, Up Game in Climate Action for Health — issued on 27 January 2024.

Celebrate World Wetlands Day in Geneva and Beyond

World Wetlands Day, celebrated each year on 2 February, marks the date of the adoption of the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention) on 2 February 1971 in Ramsar, Iran.  Wetlands and Human Wellbeing is the theme for World Wetlands Day 2024. This year’s campaign spotlights how interconnected wetlands and human life are — with people drawing sustenance, inspiration, and resilience from these productive ecosystems. Importantly, the theme for 2024 underscores how all aspects of human wellbeing are tied to the health of the world’s wetlands. It calls on each of us to value and steward our wetlands. Every wetland matters. Every effort counts.

As the headquarters of the Secretariat of the Ramsar Convention and of various international and non-governmental organizations active in nature protection, the Geneva region is an important hub of expertise and action for wetland conservation. Activities in Geneva to celebrate the day include 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 #WorldWetlandsDay and related activities

13 Recommendations to Boost Climate Action in Geneva

The Conseil pour le climat (Climate Council) of the Canton of Geneva, established in October 2021, released a report providing 13 recommendations to the Geneva State Council, on 23 January 2024. In accordance with the commitments made by the canton in the framework of its 2019 Climate Emergency Declaration and the Paris Agreement, the Climate Council stresses that the objectives of the Geneva Cantonal Climate Plan – 2nd generation – 60% less GHG emissions by 2030 and carbon neutrality by 2050, as well as those linked to adapting the region to the effects of climate change – are not achievable in the current state. It, therefore, recommends 13 key actions, from the establishment of an inter-cantonal scientific council to a waiver of carbon offsetting, and contribution to the financing or creation of a reparation fund in the context of international solidarity, and support for projects in Geneva that reduce indirect emissions and incentives to shift employment towards greener jobs.

Summit of the Future | Environment @ Pact for the Future

On 26 January 2024, Germany and Namibia, co-facilitators of the Summit of the Future, announced the release of the zero draft of the Pact for the Future. The draft is a starting point for intergovernmental deliberations this year and supports the adoption of an ambitious, concise, action-oriented Pact for the Future, per resolution 76/307. The Summit, taking place on 22-23 September 2024 in New York, is an opportunity to enhance cooperation on critical challenges and address gaps in global governance, reaffirm existing commitments including the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the United Nations Charter, and move towards a reinvigorated multilateral system that is better positioned to positively impact people’s lives.

The draft pledges to renew international cooperation on various matters that will put the world on a better path and support the well-being of present and future generations, including the environment. The Pact:

  • reaffirms the principles of the Rio Declaration on environment and development and commits to accelerate ongoing efforts related to the environment;
  • expresses the will to boost initiatives aimed at tackling the impacts of the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution;
  • aligns with the most recent advancements made at United Nations Climate Change COP28, calling for parties to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels and committing to setting a deadline to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies; and
  • stresses the importance of securing long-term capital and adaptation financial instruments to support the achievement of net zero emissions by 2050, especially targeting developing countries.

The next steps in preparation for the Summit in September have been included in a Roadmap circulated to delegations:

  • The presentation of the zero draft takes place on Monday, 29 January 2024 from 10:00 to 11:30 EST (16:00 – 17:30 CET) at the Trusteeship Council Chamber and on UN Web TV. Delegations will be invited to make short general statements.
  • The first reading, tentatively taking place from 6 to 9 February, will offer delegations the opportunity to provide general comments on the zero draft and proceed with a chapter-by-chapter reading. Member States and Observer delegations are invited to submit their written comments on the zero draft of the Pact for the Future by 12 February through e-deleGATE. A compilation text will be circulated before the second reading.
  • The second reading will take place from 21 to 23 February, from 26 to 28 February, and from 4 to 6 March.
  • The roadmap will be updated in March with information on the third reading.

Calls for Submissions

Various calls for submissions regarding human rights and the environment have deadlines coming up soon, including:

Consult other calls for submissions from various human rights mechanisms.

What (Else) to Read Next?

  • Climate change, not El Niño, main driver of exceptional drought in highly vulnerable Amazon River Basin | World Weather Attribution | 24 January 2024
    The river basin contains the largest rainforest in the world, making it a global hotspot of biodiversity and a key part of the global hydrological and carbon cycle. The river levels are reported to be at lowest levels in 120 years, threatening the estimated 30 million people living in the Amazon basin across several nations including Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia, by disrupting transportation, isolating communities and killing wildlife.
  • Global Forum on Migration and Development Addresses Impacts of Climate Change on Human Mobility | IOM | 24 January 2024
    Last week Summit of the Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) placed a special focus on the impact of climate change on human mobility, mirroring a key priority of the IOM. Clear evidence shows that climate change is fuelling disasters, and is the leading cause of new displacements globally, with an unprecedented 32.6 million new internal displacements in 2022.   
  • Governments fail to agree timeline for climate science reports in fraught IPCC talks | Climate Home News | 22 January 2024
    Governments have failed to agree on a timeline for the delivery of highly influential scientific reports assessing the state of climate change by the IPCC. That is after Saudi Arabia, India and China opposed attempts to ensure the scientific body would provide its assessment in time for the next global stocktake, the UN’s scorecard of collective climate action, due in 2028, according to sources present at the IPCC talks in Istanbul, Turkiye, last week.
  • Davos diary: Eric Usher summarises the sustainable finance highlights from the 2024 summit | UNEP FI | 24 January 2024
    On the winding train back from this year’s World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, UNEP FI Head, Eric Usher sums up the key takeaways for sustainability practitioners from this year’s global economic and political mountain retreat.
  • What is phosphorus and why are concerns mounting about its environmental impact? | UNEP Story | 24 January 2024
    Phosphorus and another nutrient, nitrogen, are key ingredients in synthetic fertilizers. They have become increasingly popular in recent decades but can have devastating effects when they enter lakes, rivers and the ocean. At the upcoming UNEA-6 delegates are expected to discuss how to advance global cooperation around nutrients. In particular, they are slated to explore ways to rein in excess phosphorus in the environment without compromising efforts to end hunger building on work already done by Member States through past UNEA resolutions to decrease nitrogen pollution.
  • How “essential” are hazardous substances? | Industry is fighting to weaken new tool aimed at protecting health and ecosystems | Corporate Europe Observatory | 24 January 2024
    Europeans are exposed to alarmingly high levels of harmful chemicals and pesticides that also harm ecosystems, soil, air, and water. But promises to tackle these substances via the Green Deal are being shelved. New evidence now reveals how Big Toxics and its allies have used misleading narratives to try to weaken the concept of ‘essential use’, to create regulatory loopholes for their hazardous products, and ultimately derailing the Commission’s flagship chemicals reform.
  • Progress on implementing the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework | Institute for European Environmental Policy | 24 January 2024
    The briefing looks at progress regarding developments and support for implementation across all the targets, including resource mobilisation and the monitoring framework and mechanisms for reporting and reviewing, which are crucial to ensuring the GBF’s success. 
  • Burkina Faso confirms interest in joining the Water Convention to improve management of its shared water resources in a context of increased climate change | UNECE | 23 January 2024
    Burkina Faso is one of the Sahelian countries hardest hit by the effects of climate change, experiencing torrential rains and floods, as well as periods of insufficient rainfall. To help address these challenges, through adaptation, resilience and concerted, shared management of its water resources, Burkina Faso officially confirmed on 19 January 2024 its wish to accede to the Water Convention.
  • Palau Takes the Lead In The ‘Race For Ratification | High Seas Alliance | 22 January 2024
    The High Seas Alliance applauded Palau for being the first to officially ratify the historic United Nations (UN) High Seas Treaty today and urged other countries to accelerate their efforts in the Race for Ratification. 
  • The planetary commons: A new paradigm for safeguarding Earth-regulating systems in the Anthropocene | Johan Rockström, Louis Kotzé, Svetlana Milutinović et al. | Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America | 22 January 2024
    We urgently need a new global approach to safeguard critical Earth system regulating functions more effectively and comprehensively. The global commons framework is the closest example of an existing approach with the aim of governing biophysical systems on Earth upon which the world collectively depends. 
  • What If the Clean Energy Transition Costs Much Less Than We’ve Been Told? | Inside Climate News | 18 January 2024
    The global transition to clean energy has a cost, but it may be a lot lower than the figures that sometimes get thrown around. The differences are large, amounting to trillions and even tens of trillions of dollars. A new analysis from RMI, the clean energy research and advocacy group, identifies what its authors say is a basic flaw in many of those estimates: They don’t fully take into account the decrease in fossil fuel spending.
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29 Jan 2024 13:00 – 14:30

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20 Feb 2024

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