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. 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, some 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.

Photo of the week | Permanent representative of France, H.E. Amb. Jérôme Bonnafont, meets the international Geneva environmental community ahead of the France presidency of the European Council  | Résidence de France | 23 November 2021. © Permament Mission of France to the UN in Geneva.

WTO Postpones Ministerial Conference, IISD Maintains Trade and Sustainability Hub

Last Friday, the World Trade Organization (WTO) took the difficult decision to postpone its Twelfth Ministerial Conference (MC12), scheduled to take place this week, after an outbreak of a new strain of the COVID-19 virus led to travel restrictions that would have prevented many ministers from reaching Geneva. As the highest decision-making body of the WTO, the Ministerial Conference was a greatly awaited opportunity not only for those active in the trade community, but also for environmental governance. In addition to the expected conclusion of the fisheries subsidies negotiations, three separate Ministerial Statements on environmental issues were expected to be launched – on trade and sustainability, plastic pollution and fossil fuel subsidies.

  • Fisheries subsidies: After two decades of ongoing negotiations, WTO members are closer than ever to reaching an agreement and achieve positive outcomes for SDG 14.6. A provisional draft has been circulated to members earlier last week. Meanwhile, scientists from all around the world are urging WTO members to quickly conclude the negotiations with ambitious action. Read more about why addressing fisheries subsides is essential for a healthy planet and livelihoods for all, as well as the role of Geneva in the process, in our update.
  • Trade and environmental sustainability: the Trade and Environmental Sustainability Structured Discussions were expected to launch a ministerial statement focused on identifying best practices, challenges and opportunities for sustainable trade and fostering continuous discussions on the environmental impacts of trade.
  • Plastic pollution: Members of the Informal Dialogue on Plastic Pollution were expected to launch a ministerial statement outlining the steps Members could take collectively to support global efforts to reduce plastics pollution. The statement is currently supported by more than 60 countries.
    On 2 December (10.30 CET), the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and the Forum on Trade, Environment & the SDGs (TESS) are organizing the session “Plastic Pollution and Trade: WTO, Basel Convention and a Global Treaty on Plastic Pollution” as part of the IISD Trade and Sustainability Hub, aiming at assessing the interconnections between the WTO, the Basel Convention & trade policies, and the effort to establish a global treaty on plastic pollution.
  • Fossil fuel subsidies: the Friends of Fossil Fuel Subsidy Reform were expected to launch a ministerial statement, calling for the rationalization and phase out of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption, while taking into account the specific needs and conditions of developing countries.

Scheduled to take place on the sidelines of WTO MC12, the IISD Trade and Sustainability hub – from 1 to 3 December – is maintained and offers the opportunity for civil society, government, business, and international organizations to discuss policy issues at the intersection of trade and sustainable development. This event aims to help develop policy solutions oriented toward advancing a more sustainable trade regime. The agenda includes more than 30 sessions on a broad range of sustainability issues, from fisheries subsidies to plastic pollution, agriculture, carbon pricing, environmental standards, disasters, and more. Have a look at the selection of sessions related to the global environmental agenda.

More information on the various initiatives at the WTO can be found on WTO Plurilateral, a platform created by the Geneva Trade Hub. Our update on trade and the environment also provides an overview of ongoing debates in Geneva at the trade and environment nexus.

Geneva: a Center for Sustainable Finance

Sustainable Finance will be at the heart of Geneva with the Building Bridges Summit and Week from 29 November to 2 December. Initiated and operated by Sustainable Finance Geneva, this initiative brings diverse actors from the finance industry, the United Nations, international organizations, NGOs, academia, and government together in collaboration around a common vision of advancing sustainable finance to address the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Building Bridges Week, at Maison de la Paix, Forum Genève, and Impact Hub Geneva, will be made up of 77 crowd-sourced events planned in a range of formats that allow for different levels of dialogue. Environmental matters and UN perspectives on sustainable finance are on the agenda through a series of insightful sessions, including:

As the UN Secretary-General pointed out at the first meeting of UNEP FI Leadership Council last week – which brought together CEOs of banks and insurers to help steer faster and deeper sustainability action across the industry – “we need to align all financial flows with the Paris Agreement and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.”

Get ready for this intense week and learn more about the role of Geneva in sustainable finance.

10th Annual Forum on Business and Human Rights

This year’s Forum on Business and Human Rights will be held entirely virtually, from 29 November to 1 December. 2021 marks the 10th anniversary of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and this will form the central theme of the 2021 Forum. This milestone provides an opportunity to look back at progress and challenges to-date and, more importantly, to inspire a renewed push for scaled-up global implementation by States and businesses in the decade ahead.

The sessions addressing environmental issues or involving environmental actors include:

GSPI 2022 Impact Collaboration Programme

The Impact Collaboration Programme is an annual call for projects by the Geneva Science-Policy Interface (GSPI) with the support of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. It provides a unique funding instrument to spot, support and scale science-policy collaborations that contribute to strengthening science-informed policy-making and build policy-relevant research and tools in support of global governance actors based in Geneva. The call supports projects that stem from collaborations that involve at least one actor from an academic institution (no geographical limitation) and one actor from the International Geneva ecosystem carrying policy work or implementation work.

While the proposed projects may address a range of policy issues, this call is an incredible opportunity to reduce the science-policy gap in environmental matters. The ongoing projects funded by the GSPI include initiatives to foster science-based implementation of MEAs on chemical and waste, to support data sharing for energy transition, visualisation tools to inform data-driven decision- making on marine biodiversity conservation, and to promote evidence-based policies for the protection of environmental defenders. New projects can be submitted until 30 January 2022.

What (Else) Should I Read Next?

  • GEO Highlights 2021 | Group on Earth Observations | 25 November 2021
    As Earth observations have become increasingly important in the face of the global environmental challenges we face, GEO published a report that puts the spotlight on their most relevant work within the past year. The Earth Negotiations Bulletin also provides an overview of the outcomes of the GEO Week 2021 which was held last week.
  • The growing footprint of digitalisation – Foresight Brief | UNEP | November 2021
    The digital services that we enjoy are sometimes referred to as “dematerialized technologies”, but is this really the case? This UNEP Foresight Brief highlights the environmental impact of the rapid increase of digitalisation.
  • Building Momentum for a Treaty on Plastics | CIEL Annual Report 2021
    Since 2017, CIEL and partners have been advocating for a legally binding international agreement to govern plastic. As part of their annual report, CIEL reports on the growing movement and growing momentum to be an organizational and informational touchpoint in the global plastic policy space with UNEA-5.2 drawing nearer.
  • How to build concerted multilateral action on plastic pollution | UNCTAD | 22 November 2021
    As governments grapple with how to tackle plastic pollution, its environmental and health impacts are rising across the life cycle of plastics. The article discusses how multilateral action can provide the foundation to address this key environmental challenge we face.
  • How to reduce the impacts of single-use plastic products | UNEP | 23 November 2021
    Single-use plastic products (SUPPs) may epitomize convenience, but are actually  major threat to environmental and human health. This article provides ways on how we can move “from pollution to solution”.
  • Reeling in a Deal to Save the Ocean | Helen Clark , Arancha González, Susana Malcorra, James Michel | Project Syndicate | 26 November 2021
    Governments have long promised to reduce destructive fisheries subsidies in order to curb unsustainable and unprofitable fishing activity. The World Trade Organization’s upcoming 12th Ministerial Conference will test the credibility of that pledge.
  • Nature-based Solutions and Water | Geneva Nature-based Solutions Dialogues | 22 November 2021
    Experts in this session have set the stage for Nature-based Solutions for water as a key component for climate change mitigation and adaptation, good health and thriving livelihoods, thus contributing to achieving SDGs water-related targets.
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Building Bridges 2021

29 Nov – 02 Dec 2021

Maison de la Paix | Campus Biotech | Forum Genève

Sustainable Finance Geneva

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Gold Standard


Data Scientist

03 Dec 2021

Gold Standard Foundation

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