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, and Youtube, or visit our website regularly for additional updates.
Image of the week | Discussion on the resolution on The Impact of Chemicals, Waste, and Pollution on Human Health initially tabled by Peru, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Monaco, Switzerland, Uruguay, and the European Union and its Member States, at an hybrid parallel event to the 76th session of the World Health Organization. Palais des Nations, Screenshot from Webex.
Moving Forward the Global Environmental Agenda at the World Health Assembly
The 76th World Health Assembly is expected to conclude at Palais des Nations on Tuesday 30 May 2023, after nine days of discussions and negotiations that addressed also environmental-related issues, including:
- Adoption of landmark resolution on The Impact of Chemicals, Waste, and Pollution on Human Health | The resolution was initially tabled by Peru, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Monaco, Switzerland, Uruguay, and the European Union and its Member States. A parallel event organized last week with the support of the Geneva Environment Network discussed the importance this resolution. → Read Health Policy Watch Report
- Air Pollution | Air pollution remains one of the biggest killers globally and is also an issue within the climate crisis. Discussion referred to ensuring a swift and equitable transition away from fossil fuels being a public health imperative.
- Pandemic Treaty or World Health Organization convention, agreement, or other international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response (WHO CA+) | A new draft version was presented and will be discussed at another round of negotiations scheduled by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) on 12-16 June. Climate change was brought up as a cause of inequity in countries’ capacity to address pandemics, as it halts the capacity of many to recover from COVID-19.
The health argument can be the one allowing us to address the causes of climate change and unblocking processes related to chemicals and plastics. […] Doing primary prevention by removing all environmental risk factors, including exposure to chemicals, is the biggest public health opportunity ever. We need the data and the tactics to efficiently develop policies and to avoid people in the future using the excuse they did not know about these impacts.
— Maria NEIRA, Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health, World Health Organization during the event “The Impact of Chemicals, Waste, and Pollution on Human Health“.
Towards a Treaty to End Plastic Pollution
Numerous experts from international Geneva joined the second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment (INC-2), which kicked off at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris on Monday 29 May and is expected to conclude on 2 June. Ahead of the session, various parallel events took place, including the International Forum to End Plastic Pollution in Cities hosted by The City of Paris and the High Ambition Briefing organized by the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution and WWF International, in partnership with the Business Coalition for a Global Plastics Treaty and the Scientists’ Coalition for an Effective Plastics Treaty. → Consult the Arrangements Document and the Daily Live Calendar for the latest updates and follow the negotiations through the official Live Webcast and the Earth Negotiation Bulletin Coverage.
Stakeholders from various sectors have expressed their expectations for the negotiation. Useful resources on INC-2 produced by stakeholders in Geneva and beyond include:
- High Ambition Coalition Joint Ministerial Statement INC-2 | 26 May 2023
- Plastic Treaty News | IPEN | 28 May 2023
- IPEN’s new Plastics website
- Information submitted by the Secretariat of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) (UNEP/PP/INC.2/INF/9) | 24 May 2023
- Information submitted by the Secretariat of the International Labour Organization (ILO)(UNEP/PP/INC.2/INF/10) | 24 May 2023
- Preparatory Materials for the Plastics Treaty INC-2 | CIEL | 25 May 2023
- IUCN Briefing for Negotiators: Legal Process of Treaty Negotiations for the Global Plastics Treaty INC-2 | IUCN | 22 May 2023
- The Scientists’ Coalition for an Effective Plastics Treaty Resources for the INC-2 Negotiations
- Trends in Trade Flows Across the Life Cycle of Plastics: Preliminary Review | TESS | 25 May 2023
- Outcomes of the Briefing on the 2nd Session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to Develop an International Legally Binding Instrument on Plastic Pollution (Plastic Pollution INC-2) | 27 April 2023 | Geneva Environment Network
Other relevant updates on plastics include:
- Troubling Toxics: Eliminating Harmful Plastic Chemicals Through The Plastics Treaty | IPEN | 29 May 2023
- 1st Plastics Pollution Weather Forecast Predicts 88 Pounds of Microplastic Over Paris | Science Alert | 26 May 2023
- Japan joins anti-plastic coalition ahead of Paris treaty talks, leaving US isolated | Climate Home News | 26 May 2023
- Experts sound the alarm on toxic chemicals ahead of plastic treaty negotiations | GRIST | 25 May 2023
- Forever Toxic: The science on health threats from plastic recycling | Greenpeace | 24 May 2023
- Petrochemicals and climate change: Powerful fossil fuel lock-ins and interventions for transformative change | Fredric Bauer, Joachim Peter Tilsted, Carolyn Deere Birkbeck, et. al. | Environmental and Energy Systems Studies, Lund University | 24 May 2023
- Plastic pollution increases flooding risk for more than 200 million of world’s poorest people | Tearfund | 24 May 2023
- Hidden Hazards: The Chemical Footprint of a Plastic Bottle | Defend Our Health | 23 May 2023
- Australia quietly reopens plastic waste exports while UNEP “Turns on the Tap” for burning plastic waste in cement kilns: Policy desperation on the eve of Plastic Treaty negotiations | Break Free From Plastic | 23 May 2023
- Hazardous chemicals in recycled and reusable plastic food packaging | Birgit Geueke, Drake W. Phelps, Lindsey V. Parkinson and Jane Muncke | Cambridge University Press | 22 May 2023
World Environment Day Celebration in Geneva to Showcase Multilateral Solutions to Beat Plastic Pollution
International Geneva is strongly mobilized in the agenda to eliminate plastic pollution. The outcomes of recent negotiations, and the Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution Dialogues that kicked off at the end of 2020, provided some concrete examples of how multilateral Geneva is engaged in finding solutions to address this major crisis. Concrete outcomes include:
- Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions | The fourteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention (COP-14, 2019) adopted amendments to Annexes II, VIII and IX to the Convention with the objectives of enhancing the control of the transboundary movements of plastic waste and clarifying the scope of the Convention as it applies to such waste. Parties to the Stockholm Convention agreed to eliminate the production and use of three forever chemicals, UV-328, a UV filter used in plastics, at the eleventh meeting of its Conference of the Parties, in May 2023.
- World Trade Organization | The Informal Dialogue on Plastics Pollution and Environmentally Sustainable Plastics Trade (IDP) seeks to complement discussions in the Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE) and other fora. As of April 2023, 76 WTO members are participating in the informal dialogue. In December 2021, the Members issued a Ministerial Statement on plastic pollution. The 12th Ministerial Conference, issued a new Ministerial Statement to take stock of the IDP.
- World Health Assembly | Adoption of a landmark resolution on The Impact of Chemicals, Waste, and Pollution on Human Health at the 76th session of the World Health Assembly, initially tabled by Peru, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Monaco, Switzerland, Uruguay, and the European Union and its Member States. The resolution refers to scaling-up work on plastics and health.
- Human Rights Council | During the General Debate on Agenda Item 3 of the 52nd Session of the Human Rights Council, in March 2023, the Permanent Representative of Peru, on behalf of Peru and 32 other countries, delivered a statement underscoring that “The impact of plastic pollution on a broad range of human rights is undeniable.” The statement urges Member States to call for a plastics treaty firmly rooted in a human rights-based approach that reduces inequalities, enables just transition, and protects the environment.
In line with the official World Environment Day Celebration, held this year in Côte d’Ivoire, under the theme “Solutions to Plastic Pollution”, the traditional high-level event hosted by the Geneva Environment Network to celebrate the day in Geneva, will spotlight the efforts and progress undertaken by stakeholders in Geneva to beat plastic pollution. Held the first working day after the end of the INC-2 negotiation in Paris, this celebration, held within the framework of the Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution Dialogues, will also highlight outcomes from the intergovernmental process, discussing multilateralism and cooperation in action, as we will also be marking the 50th anniversary of World Environment Day. The high-level dialogue will be followed by a reception offered by the Swiss Government and local authorities. → Register and join us in person on Monday 5 June, at 11:00 CEST.
Updates on World Meteorological Congress
The 19th Session of the World Meteorological Congress, the supreme body of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), is convening for its second and last week, at the International Conference Centre of Geneva (CICG). The Congress will elect the World Meteorological Organization Secretary General this week. Some outcomes of last week include:
- The Congress agreed to scale up services to protect public health given that climate-related illnesses, premature deaths, malnutrition and threats to mental health and well-being are increasing. The Congress endorsed a 2023–2033 Implementation Plan for Advancing Climate, Environment and Health Science and Services.
- Congress acclaimed WMO Information System as basis for data sharing. WMO Information System 2.0 (WIS 2.0), is the framework for Earth Systems (meteorological, hydrological, climate, and ocean) data sharing in the 21st century. It is based on the principle that no Member should be left behind.
- The Congress has recognized the vital contribution of long-term weather observations to monitoring climate change, given the need for reliable historical records of the past to understand the present and prepare for the future. WMO has so far recognized 291 centennial weather stations and the Congress increased by a further 118 by including, for the first time, hydrological and marine stations.
- WMO will elevate the cryosphere to one of its top priorities, given the increasing impacts of diminishing sea ice, melting glaciers, ice sheets, permafrost, and snow on sea level rise, water-related hazards and water security, economies and ecosystems. The Congress endorsed a resolution calling for more coordinated observations and predictions, data exchange, research and services. It proposes to ramp up activities, with a proposed increase in funding from the regular budget and extrabudgetary funding.
- The Congress has approved the new “Global Greenhouse Gas Watch”. All the 193 members recognised the growing societal importance of greenhouse gas monitoring in support of improving our scientific understanding of the Earth System, and the urgent need to strengthen the scientific underpinning of mitigation actions taken by the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the Paris Agreement.
Advancing Human Rights and the Environment
UN Committee on the Rights of the Child | The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child recognized last week that all children have a fundamental human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, adopting General Comment 26 on Children’s rights and the environment with a focus on climate change.
Loss and Damage Funding | The Second meeting of the Transitional Committee (TC2) – established at COP27 in November 2022 to find new funding arrangements and a fund for assisting developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change – took place from 25 – 27 May 2023 in Bonn, Germany. The importance of this process was also highlighted by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk, affirming the need to ensure the rights of those on the climate crisis frontlines to be heard, to climate justice and remedy. → Read the synthesis report.
Human Right Council | An information-sharing session on environmental activities planned at the 53rd Regular Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC53), taking place in Geneva from 19 June to 14 July 2023, took place last week. → Visit our Environment @ HRC53 update regularly updated with latest news
Bicycle Day | Mobilization for the Climate and the Planet
On Saturday 3 June 2023, as we celebrate World Bicycle Day, a citizen demonstration will bring together a bicycle procession from neighboring France as well as a march in the city of Geneva. Grand Genève pour le climat demonstration aims at promoting:
- Sustainable mobility for Greater Geneva
- A climate-compatible financial center
- Climate justice everywhere on the planet
- Consumption respecting planetary limits
- Raise awareness on the Climate law voting of 18 June
Participants will meet from 13:30 CEST in Place Lise Girardin for the walking march or at 13:45 CEST at the Ferney Customs (Swiss Side) for the bike demonstration.
What (Else) to Read Next?
- Ivory Coast Accesses the UNECE Water Convention and its Protocol on Water and Health
- Valuing What Counts: Framework to Progress Beyond Gross Domestic Product | Our Common Agenda Policy Brief 4 | António Guterres | May 2023
Primarily relying on GDP as a metric of progress does not accurately reflect the world as it is – nor the world that we want future generations to inhabit. We need a paradigm shift in what we measure as progress, so that we can capture data on the activities and outcomes that a society truly values and then use the data to better inform our policy and financial decisions.
- Enough With Fossil Fuels, Pope Says in Latest Climate Appeal | Voice of America (VOA) | 25 May 2023
The world must rapidly ditch fossil fuels and end “the senseless war against creation”, Pope Francis said on Thursday, in a fresh plea over climate change that called on people to repent for their “ecological sins.”
- WTO: EU Council approves an agreement on fisheries subsidies to boost environmental sustainability | Council of the European Union | 25 May 2023
On 25 May 2023, the Council adopted a decision approving, on behalf of the EU, the conclusion of a World Trade Organization (WTO) protocol establishing a fisheries subsidies agreement.
- More than 5,000 new species discovered in Pacific deep-sea mining hotspot | The Guardian | 25 May 2023
Scientists have discovered more than 5,000 new species living on the seabed in an untouched area of the Pacific Ocean that has been identified as a future hotspot for deep-sea mining, according to a review of the environmental surveys done in the area.
- The socio-economic impacts of mercury pollution on fisheries and livelihoods | Minamata Convention on Mercury | 23 May 2023
The study, subtitled “Exploring how a natural capital approach may support the implementation of the Minamata Convention on Mercury”, highlights the urgent need for action at all levels. It emphasizes the importance of understanding the effects of mercury on fish populations, as well as the often overlooked social, environmental and economic costs associated with mercury pollution.
- Against climate hypocrisy: why the IPCC needs its own net-zero target | Benjamin M. Sanderson | Nature | 23 May 2023
A robust strategy to slash the IPCC’s carbon emissions would be a testbed for international climate policy — and serve as an example of effective action.
- Global loss of wildlife is ‘significantly more alarming’ than previously thought, according to a new study | Laura Paddison | CNN | 22 May 2023
Humans have already wiped out huge numbers of species and pushed many more to the brink – with some scientists saying we are entering a “sixth mass extinction” event, this time driven by humans.
- Time to pay the piper: Fossil fuel companies’ reparations for climate damages | Marco Grasso & Richard Heede | One Earth | 19 May 2023
This article proposes morally based reparations for oil, gas, and coal producers, presents a methodological approach for their implementation, and quantifies reparations for the top twenty-one fossil fuel companies.
10 Mar – 15 Jun 2023
21 – 30 May 2023
Palais des Nations & World Health Organization
22 May – 02 Jun 2023
CICG & Online
30 May – 02 Jun 2023
Palais des Nations | Room III
30 May 2023
Palais des Nations | Room H-208
UNECE/FAO Forestry and Timber Section
30 May 2023
Palais des Nations | Room H-307.B & Online | Teams
30 May 2023 14:00 – 15:30
Online | BrightTalk
UNEP FI, GIZ
31 May – 02 Jun 2023
Palais des Nations | Room VII
31 May 2023
Online | Whova
31 May 2023 13:00 – 15:00
Online | Zoom
31 May 2023 13:00 – 14:30
Online | Zoom
31 May 2023 13:00 – 14:00
Online | Webex
Minamata Convention on Mercury
31 May 2023 14:00
Online | Zoom
Digital and Green Transformations: The role of innovation and public-private partnerships | 16th session of CICPPP
31 May – 02 Jun 2023
Palais des Nations | Room XXVI
01 Jun 2023 14:30 – 16:30
Auditorium de l’UOG
01 Jun 2023 18:00 – 20:00
Palais de l'Athénée | Salle des Abeilles
03 Jun 2023
03 Jun 2023 13:30
Place Lise Girardin
Marche Climat Genève
30 May 2023
UNEP Europe Office
31 May 2023
31 May 2023
31 May 2023
31 May 2023
31 May 2023
31 May 2023
31 May 2023
01 Jun 2023
01 Jun 2023
01 Jun 2023
26 Jun 2023
03 Jun 2023
04 Jun 2023
10 Jun 2023
06 Jul 2023
21 Feb 2024
19 Feb 2024