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 also on X (Twitter), Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Youtube, or visit our website regularly for additional updates.

Image of the week | At last week’s 12th United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights, the event  “How the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights can inform the negotiations on a new legally binding instrument to end plastic pollution“, organized by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Peru, Ecuador, the Center for International Environmental Law, and the Geneva Environment Network, with the support of the Working Group on Business and Human Rights, discussed strategies and good practices for businesses to achieve effective human rights and environmental due diligence throughout the entire lifecycle of plastic.

Preparations for the 6th UN Environment Assembly

The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) is the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment. Its sixth session, UNEA-6, will take place from 26 February to 1 March 2024 in Nairobi. This session will be held under the theme “Effective, inclusive and sustainable multilateral actions to tackle climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution”, underscoring the importance of addressing the interlinkages of the three planetary environmental crises. UNEA-6 will also highlight the importance of cooperation with multilateral environmental agreements (MEAs) with a full day devoted to the discussion with a view to enhancing its relationship with the MEAs by strengthening convergence of actions and sharing of experiences.

As preparations for the Assembly are in full swing, the Geneva Environment Network is hosting a briefing providing updates, and contributions of MEAs at UNEA-6, as well as spotlighting works related to key thematics for International Geneva and stakeholders perspectives. Register on Forms to attend in person at the International Environment House II or on Webex to join online on 6 December 2023 at 11:00 CET.

International Geneva @ COP28

This week, all eyes continue to be on the ongoing UN Climate Change Conference taking place in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. As negotiations unfold to tackle important agenda items and have started taking decisions on the completion of the first Global Stocktake under the 2015 Paris Agreement, the operationalization of the funding arrangements for responding to loss and damage, a new collective quantified goal on climate finance, and the global goal on adaptation, the hosting of the Santiago Network, among others, various Geneva actors are at COP28 to highlight how climate change is cross-cutting across all of International Geneva’s areas of expertise, from climate science to human rights, labor, trade and much more. → Find a list of engaged actors and useful resources on our update.

Alongside hosting pavilions and an impressive number of events, various Geneva actors are also launching pivotal reports and initiatives at COP28, including:

Want to dive into COP28 negotiations? Follow the Earth Negotiations Bulletin, watch the public webcast, or read the Climate Action Network International (CAN) ECO daily newsletter.

Other recent news on climate change and COP28 include:

  • Heads of WTO, FAO sign agreement to boost cooperation on trade, food and climate change | WTO | 1 December 2023
    The WTO and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) agreed to boost cooperation and collaboration on a range of issues in the area of food and agricultural trade and climate change. The initiative comes at a time of growing crises affecting global food security and sustainable agriculture production.
  • COP28 talks open in Dubai with breakthrough deal on loss and damage fund | UN News | 30 November 2023
    Delegates meeting in Dubai agreed Thursday on the operationalization of a fund that would help compensate vulnerable countries coping with loss and damage caused by climate change, a major breakthrough on the first day of this year’s UN climate conference.
  • Fossils fuels at the heart of the planetary environmental crisis: UN experts | OHCHR | 30 November 2023
    As COP28 begins, UN human rights experts urged States to accelerate the just and equitable phase-out of fossil fuels, warning about the immense magnitude of their negative human rights impacts.
  • Climate Summit opens with world watching for signs of progress | UNEP | 30 November 2023
    At COP28, it is hoped governments and the oil and gas sector will step up with ambitious actions to rein in methane, a short-lived but potent greenhouse gas responsible for about one-third of global warming. More than 150 countries have already signed the Global Methane Pledge, which aims to reduce emissions by 30% by 2030.
  • Integrating Human Rights into the International Climate Negotiations: GANHRI Open Letter to COP 28 | 30 November 2023
    GANHRI calls on all states to be guided by their human rights obligations under international human rights treaties and consider the impact of climate change on groups with particular vulnerability when making commitments within the international climate framework and in all wider climate-related decision-making.
  • WHO’s annual malaria report spotlights the growing threat of climate change | WHO | 30 November 2023
    The 2023 World Malaria report delves into the nexus between climate change and malaria. Changes in temperature, humidity and rainfall can influence the behaviour and survival of the malaria- carrying Anopheles mosquito. Extreme weather events, such as heatwaves and flooding, can also directly impact transmission and disease burden.
  • COP28 begins: 4 issues that will determine if the UN climate summit is a success, from methane to money | The Conversation | 30 November 2023
    The United Nations climate conference is underway in Dubai, and representatives from around the world will be confronting an extraordinary array of challenges over its two weeks. They carry with them some long-held – and new – grievances, and strong expectations.
  • Climate: why disinformation is so persistent | UNIGE | 30 November 2023
    The consequences of climate change are more visible than ever, and the scientific community has confirmed that humans are responsible. Yet studies show that a third of the population still doubts or disputes these facts. The cause is disinformation spread by certain vested interests. To try and prevent this phenomenon, a team from the University of Geneva (UNIGE) has developed and tested six psychological interventions on nearly 7,000 participants from twelve countries. 
  • COP28: A Crucial Crossroads for Fossil Fuel Phaseout and Human Rights | CIEL | 29 November 2023
    Governments are on track to produce twice as much oil, gas, and coal in 2030 as would be consistent with a 1.5°C limit, and to generate twice as much warming this century as the world can withstand if we are to avert the most catastrophic impacts on human rights.
  • COP28 Opens in Dubai with Calls for Accelerated Action, Higher Ambition Against the Escalating Climate Crisis | UNFCCC | 29 November 2023
    “Over 160 world leaders are headed to Dubai because only cooperation between nations can get humanity back in this race. But COP28 cannot be just a photo-op. Leaders must deliver – the message is clear,” said UN Climate Change Executive Secretary Simon Stiell. “And as leaders leave Dubai after the opening summit, their message to their negotiators must be equally clear: don’t come home without a deal that will make a real difference.”
  • We must unite our efforts to fight climate change and biodiversity loss | Crossroad Blog – Open Letters to IUCN Members | 28 November 2023
    Climate change and biodiversity loss are two of the most important challenges and risks for human societies. But as the chairs of IUCN’s seven expert Commissions write, the window of opportunity to address them is closing rapidly.
  • Health is the engine to drive more urgent action on climate change, says WHO | BMJ | 28 November 2023
    World Health Organization leaders hope that the first-ever health day at the 28th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP28) will ensure that the impact of climate change on health takes centre stage and be the engine that drives more urgent action by governments.
  • Climate Adaptation Target Setting | UNEP FI | 28 November 2023
    This guidance aims to help banks accelerate their efforts on managing climate-related impacts and financing climate adaptation. It sets out an initial, guiding approach for setting adaptation targets and incorporating adaptation considerations in their transition plans and sustainability strategies while leveraging co-benefits of adaptation with climate, nature, and other aspects of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
  • The costs of delay on climate change are rising — we must act now | Inger Andersen | The Hill | 27 November 2023
    Even if the international community were to stop emitting all greenhouse gases today, it would take decades for the climate to stabilize. Climate disruption is here to stay for the long haul. At COP28, policymakers, multilateral banks, investors and the private sector must start to deliver the necessary finance to insulate low-income vulnerable countries and disadvantaged groups from climate impacts. The alternative is more death, more loss and damage, and far bigger invoices payable in the years to come.  
  • Why loss & damage fund alone will not redress climate harm | Joie Chowdhury and Lien Vandamme | Geneva Solutions | 27 November 2023
    Compensating countries that have suffered huge losses and irreparable damage from climate change is an obligation under human rights law that states, in particular wealthy nations, are still doing little to address.
  • Health at the Heart of Climate Action: WHO’s Message to COP28 Negotiators | Health Policy Watch | 27 November 2023
    Despite the absence of explicit mention of fossil fuels in the draft “Health Declaration” to be signed by UN member states at the climate conference, negotiators working on the outcome document must recognise that “we need to halt emissions and accelerate the transition to clean, renewable energy for the sake of health,” stated Dr. Maria Neira, director of WHO’s Department of Climate, Environment, and Health.

Walking the Talk in Geneva: 2050Today

To transform words into actions and enact the decarbonization of international Geneva, 2050Today — the Geneva climate action forum where over 60 institutions of International Geneva, including permanent missions, international organizations, and civil society entities, come together and commit to working towards reducing their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions —  launches this week its Charter establishing the common framework for the necessary enhanced climate action and other sustainable activities. Signatory institutions will be able to:

  • Define guiding principles with objectives and targets to be set individually by each institution in accordance with its own climate references;
  • Implement a wide range of concrete and specific actions through guidelines;
  • Benefit from benchmarks for the assessment of the initial situation of every sector on which institutions decide to act;
  • Design own action plans to reduce GHG emissions by setting individual targets based on its own climate benchmarks;
  • Benefit from coordinated support providing targeted resources in terms of knowledge, monitoring and start-up funding;
  • Promote greater visibility by jointly communicating the climate action of international Geneva.

On the occasion of its 2nd High-Level Meeting, 2050Today will host a Charter Signing Ceremony on 5 December 2023 from 17:00 to 20:00 CET, at Palais Eynard.

World Soil Day 2023 | Soil and Water, a Source of Life

On 5 December, the international community celebrates World Soil Day, a reminder of the importance of healthy soil and to advocate for the sustainable management of soil resources. This year, the celebration focuses on the precious link between soil and water, from which over 95 percent of our food originates, and upon which the foundation of our agricultural and food systems are built. In the face of excessive soil degradation and erosion, sustainable soil management practices are needed to preserve these valuable resources. → Learn more about this year’s celebration taking place online.

In the face of the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution, our soils are being degraded and polluted, putting excessive pressure on this precious resource and the food systems that depend on it. → Learn more about the interconnected issues and the role of Geneva-based organizations in promoting the sustainable management of soils towards a food-secure world and stable and sustainably used ecosystems.

75 Years of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a Guidepost to Protect People and the Planet

10 December 2023 marks the 75th anniversary of one of the world’s most groundbreaking global pledges: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the landmark document that enshrines the inalienable rights that everyone is entitled to as a human being. As the world faces challenges new and ongoing – including the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution – the values and rights enshrined in the Declaration provide guideposts for our collective actions that do not leave anyone behind.

In the face of environmental degradation, equality for all also means advancing the right to a healthy environment and climate justice. As a follow-up to the UN Human Rights Council’s and the UN General Assembly’s recognition of the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, International Geneva is taking urgent action to respect, protect and fulfill this right. Such action could be the cornerstone of a new human rights-based economy that will produce a green recovery from COVID-19 and a just transition.→ Read more about human rights, the environment, and the role of Geneva in our dedicated update.

As part of the year-long Human Rights 75 initiative, a Human Rights Day concert will be held on 10 December, from 13:00 CET at Alhambra. The free event will feature world-class talent from every continent, covering different musical genres and human rights themes, as well as a historic dance performance. This will be followed by the Human Rights 75 high-level event taking place from 11 to 12 December 2023 at Palais des Nations.

Happening Abroad

What (Else) to Read Next?

  • Toxics in Our Clothing | Arnika & IPEN | 28 November 2023
    A study found toxic PFAS chemicals, including globally banned substances in outdoor jackets and clothing purchased from thirteen countries across Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America. Most of the outdoor jackets were marketed for children and many of the products come into direct contact with skin. The study also found jackets and clothing made without PFAS, demonstrating that safer alternatives to the toxic substances are available.
  • The Dirty Secret of Alternative Plastics | TIME | 28 November 2023
    Alternative plastics production is limited in scale, more expensive than conventional plastic, and it’s not yet clear that the alternatives are actually better for human and planetary health: most plant-based plastics are, on a molecular level, identical to their fossil-fuel-sourced siblings and last just as long in the environment. Other substitutes require many of the same toxic chemical additives as conventional plastics.
  • Comment: ‘Nature positive’ has hit the mainstream. We need to ensure it delivers transformation, not greenwashing | Marco Lambertini and Eva Zabey | Reuters | 28 November 2023
    This attention on nature is welcome and much needed. Humanity has, for the most part, disregarded its impact on the natural world. We have drilled, farmed, logged and trawled without paying much attention to the costs to nature. This has created a false economy, one that has been growing, while nature and its contributions to people have been declining. 
  • What can communities teach us? Indigenous and local knowledge for mountain conservation | IUCN | November 2023
    Indigenous and Local communities are keepers of valuable environmental knowledge accumulated over generations. This knowledge is held individually and collectively, often orally transmitted and embodied. At least 25% of the world’s land area is owned, managed, used or inhabited by these groups, and such areas are degrading less quickly than others. Yet, despite abundant empirical evidence, Indigenous and Local communities struggle to have their voices meaningfully included in environmental governance.
  • Left, right and centre – Policy note – Water for peace, what contributions to climate change action? | Geneva Water Hub | November 2023
    Across the global water community, thought leaders, non-governmental and inter-governmental organizations, academia and communities of practice are increasingly “positioning” themselves on the water-climate intersection. The Geneva Water Hub can add value and expertise through its research, partnerships, and policy advocacy moving forward, through our unique focus on water for peace.
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UNCTAD eWeek 2023

04 – 08 Dec 2023

CICG & Online | eWeek Platform

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Fish Week

04 – 08 Dec 2023

WTO | Room CR & S1

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20 Feb 2024

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