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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
  • Climate Change | At the Strategic Roundtable on the Role of the Health Communities in Climate Action: taking stock and moving forward panelists made a plea for urgent climate action. The United Arab Emirates pledged to further elevate the importance of health by announcing the first-ever dedicated Health Day and the convening of the inaugural Health and Climate Ministerial meeting at the forthcoming Conference of the Parties (COP28) in Dubai in November 2023. → Learn more on the WHO Daily Bulletin.
    The youth delegate from the Netherlands called for a WHA resolution on Climate and Health to be adopted at WHA77.
  • 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:

Other relevant updates on plastics include:

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:

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.

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