The Geneva Environment Network’s weekly newsletter includes the latest information on the global environmental agenda, main events, job vacancies, 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, various 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.

Image of the week | H.E. Amb. Tine MØRCH SMITH discussing the role of cities in addressing the plastic crisis at the “The Plastics wrap-trap: what about cities in inter-states negotiations?“, a Geneva Urban Debate, co-organized by the Geneva Cities Hub and UN-Habitat, with the support of Norway and the Geneva Environment Network. © Permanent Mission of Norway to the UN in Geneva, Villa Rigot, 24 January 2022.

High Level Dialogue on a Global Instrument on Plastic Pollution

As plastic is a global issue, international cooperation is needed to coordinate actions to have an efficient decision making to tackle this major environmental problem. Urgent action is needed at all levels. Governments, businesses, civil society organizations, local authorities and academic institutions have thus been calling for the establishment of a global legally binding instrument to address the risks posed by plastic throughout its lifecycle.

Solidarity and the involvement of all stakeholders must be guiding principles, as highlighted in the Ministerial Statement issued at the end of the Ministerial Conference on Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution, convened by Germany, Ecuador, Ghana and Vietnam, last September in Geneva. At the end of the Conference, Peru and Rwanda presented a first draft of a resolution to pave the way for an Internationally legally binding instrument on plastic pollution. This draft was intended to serve as the formal basis for the start of negotiations on a global agreement at the resumed session of the fifth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5.2) in February-March 2022. At the end of 2021, Japan also proposed a resolution for an International legally binding instrument on marine plastic pollution. Both resolutions call for quick negotiation in the lead-up to UNEA-6 to address this major crisis.

With only a few weeks left before this major event, the Geneva Environment Network and partners as hosting this week a High Level Dialogue on a Global Instrument on Plastic Pollution. This dialogue will offer an overview of the preparations for the negotiations on this important matter. As the concluding session of the second series of the Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution Dialogues, it will also be the occasion to reflect on the outcomes of the previous sessions, including on the potential financial cooperation and technical assistance mechanisms in a new treaty on plastics. Register on Webex and join us online on Tuesday 1 February 2022, at 14:00 CET.

International Conference on Environmental Peacebuilding

The Second International Conference on Environmental Peacebuilding, bringing together researchers, practitioners, decision-makers, and others to examine diverse dimensions of environmental peacebuilding, will take place virtually in Geneva, from 1 to 4 February 2022. The conference is convened by the Environmental Peacebuilding Association® (EnPAx™) and the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, with the support of various partners. Register et discover the programme with more than 75 panels and roundtables, and more innovative events to engage in the topic.

The conference will see the launch of the White Paper on the Future of Environmental Peacebuilding, a policy-oriented document, developed through a reflexive, consultative, multi-stakeholder process. This paper aims to deliver a strong, cogent message about the future of the field to the Stockholm+50 forum in June 2022. Learn more about the processes that took place ahead of the conference in our update on the Road to Geneva.

The Geneva Environment Network is hosting a panel on Mobilizing International Geneva for Environmental Peacebuilding. Gathering a large pool of expertise on both environment- and conflict-related issues, organizations in Geneva can play an important role in promoting environmental peacebuilding and exploring the interlinkages with other workstreams. This session will discuss how synergies within the International Geneva community can be reinforced and developed to support environmental peacebuilding. This event is also organized in the run-up to the Stockholm+50 Conference, five decades after the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment had declared that to defend and improve the human environment for present and future generations has become an imperative goal for mankind, a goal to be pursued together with the established and fundamental goals of peace and of worldwide economic and social development. Register and join us online on 3 February at 13.00 CET.

Acting for Wetlands

As highlighted in last week’s newsletter, World Wetlands Day is celebrated each year on 2 February to raise awareness about wetlands and celebrate the anniversary of the Convention on Wetlands (Ramsar Convention). The theme for the 2022 edition is Wetlands Action for People and Nature, underlining the importance of actions that ensure that wetlands are conserved and sustainably used. This year’s celebration is especially significant — as on the 30 August 2021, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution that established 2 February as a United Nations International Day, — inviting all 193 UN member states to observe the day, opening the door for greater global visibility for wetlands.

Nearly 90% of the world’s wetlands have been degraded since the 1700s. According to the Global Wetland Outlook, we lose wetlands three times faster than natural forests. According the IPBES’ assessments, wetlands are the most threatened ecosystem, impacting 40% of the world’s plant and animal species that live or breed in wetlands. Yet, these ecosystems are critically important as they contribute to biodiversity, climate mitigation and adaptation, freshwater availability, world economies and more. Therefore, the conservation of wetlands is a vital task of humanity, which can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Learn more about the importance of wetlands for people and the planet and discover activities in Geneva in our update.

Join the Ramsar Convention official online celebration, Acting for Wetlands: Challenges and Opportunities, moderated by the Convention’s Secretary General, on Monday 31 January at 15.00 CET.

What (Else) Should I Read Next?

  • The State of Finance for Nature in the G20 report | UNEP, WEF & ELD | 27 January 2022
    The State of Finance for Nature in the G20 report attempts to capture the complete amount and future need for G20 country spending on nature-based solutions assets and activities. It reveals that current G20 investments in nature-based solutions are insufficient, at USD 120 billion/year, and G20 Official Development Assistance and private sector investments are small when compared with domestic government spending. For more information, rewatch the launch event hosted last week.
  • Plastic snowfall in the Alps | Swiss Federal Laboratory for Materials Testing and Research | 25 January 2022
    While marine litter has occupied public imaginary for many years, plastic pollution is a more widespread issue, as nanoplastics can travel over 2000 kilometers through the air. According to estimates from this new study, it could be as much as 3,000 tonnes of nanoplastics that cover Switzerland every year, from the remote Alps to the urban lowlands. Nanoparticles are small enough to cross the cell-blood barrier and enter the human bloodstream, raising questions about the harmful impact of plastic pollution to human health.
  • International sustainability criteria for plastic products in a global agreement on plastic pollution | Nordic Council | 24 January 2022
    The report elaborates on what sustainability criteria for plastic products may entail in a global agreement on plastic pollution. It proposes an analytical framework for sustainability criteria, situating them as the link between global objectives and implementation measures.
  • UN experts recommend eliminating the toxic chemical methoxychlor and take steps towards eliminating plastic additive UV-328 and flame retardant Dechlorane Plus | Press Release | BRS MEAs | 28 January 2022
    More than 250 scientific experts came together in Geneva and online, to review scientific data and make recommendations concerning the possible elimination of a number of toxic chemicals known as Persistent Organic Pollutants, or POPs.
  • Brest Wishes for the Ocean in 2022 | IISD | 27 January 2022
    President Emmanuel Macron of France is convening world leaders and ocean advocates for the One Ocean Summit from 9 – 11 February 2022. In this opinion piece, Rémi Parmentier, Co-Director of The Varda Group, reflects on whether the Summit can serve as a launch pad for high-level movement on several ocean issues that urgently need to be addressed.
  • Cambodia: Illegal logging harming Indigenous peoples’ rights and cultures – new research | Amnesty International | 28 January 2022
    New research by Amnesty International revealed that illegal logging of protected forests is undermining the human rights and erasing the traditions of Indigenous peoples in Cambodia. The reports tell how deforestation and government restrictions on access have harmed Indigenous peoples’ spiritual practices, land rights, livelihoods, and ability to protect the forest.
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19 Apr 2022

Towards UNEA-5.2

20 Feb 2024

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