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 on X (Twitter)FacebookLinkedInInstagram, and Youtube, or visit our website regularly for additional updates.

Image of the week | In celebration of World Wetlands Day, the City of Geneva organized on 2 February 2024 a visit to the urban pond Venturi located at HEPIA followed by a panel discussion, “Des étangs en ville: à quoi ça sert?“. This year’s theme, “Wetlands and Human Wellbeing”, spotlighted how interconnected wetlands and human life are — with people drawing sustenance, inspiration, and resilience from these productive ecosystems. © UNEP/GEN

Countdown to UNEA-6 | Geneva High-Level Briefing

Three weeks ahead of the sixth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-6), the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment, the Geneva Environment Network invites delegates and stakeholders from the Geneva community and beyond to take part in the High-Level Briefing on UNEA-6 on Tuesday 6 February at 11:00 CET. The event will provide an update on preparations and the President of the Assembly’s priorities, as well as spotlight draft resolutions and key moments. → Register on Webex and join us online on 6 February 2024 from 11:00 CET

To be held under the theme “Effective, inclusive and sustainable multilateral actions to tackle climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution”, this session will include a series of leadership and multi-stakeholder dialogues and more than 30 official side events and associated events to deliver high-impact planetary action. Member States will discuss and negotiate 20 draft resolutions that they have tabled so far. → The deadline for registration closes on Friday 9 February. Find out more on preparations for UNEA and useful links in our update.

Resource Mobilization and Finance for an Ambitious Plastics Treaty

In the intersessional period ahead of the fourth session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee on Plastic Pollution (INC-4) that will take place from 23 to 29 April 2024 in Ottawa, Canada, new reports are being released and discussions being held, to advance negotiations and secure an ambitious outcome.

This week, the session “Implementing a Treaty to End Plastic Pollution: A Holistic Approach to Resource Mobilization & Financing for Systems Change & Just Transitions” organized by the Forum on Trade, Environment and the SDGs (TESS) and the Geneva Environment Network, within the framework of the Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution Dialogues, will discuss resource mobilization and financing needs, the range of their potential sources, and options for financial mechanisms and related decision-making methods to support governments and stakeholders to end plastic pollution.→ Register on Webex and join us online on 7 February 2024 at 15:30 CET

Recent news on plastics and the treaty include:

  • Insights from international environmental legislation and protocols for the global plastic treaty | Margrethe Aanesen, Julide C. Ahi, Tenaw G. Abate et al. | Scientific Reports | 2 February 2024
    The analysis reveals that (i) environmental rather than human health concerns have been the predominant driving force behind previous regulations targeting pollutants, and (ii) the decision to ban or discontinue the use of harmful pollutants is primarily affected by the availability of viable substitutes. […] Leveraging the availability of substitutes can significantly contribute to the development and implementation of effective strategies aimed at reducing plastic usage and corresponding pollution.
  • Research on the environmental, food security and health impacts of food system plastics | Joe Yates, Megan Deeney, Heike B. Rolker et al. | IKHAPP | 1 February 2024
    While food system plastics impact the environment, food security and health, policies to tackle these impacts are also likely to have broader consequences across domains. The results of this systematic review article reveal an imbalance in the literature, and the authors recommend addressing these gaps as well as fostering research from low-income countries.
  • Global criteria to address problematic, unnecessary and avoidable plastic products | Nordic Council of Ministers | 31 Janaury 2024
    The report notes that over 140 countries have enacted bans or restrictions on specific plastic products, highlighting the need for global criteria to manage not just single-use plastics, but also a wider range of plastic products. It presents possible criteria for determining plastic products into three distinct classifications – problematic, unnecessary, and avoidable – each subject to specific control measures. → Rewatch the launch of the report
  • Plastics Pollution Dialogue finalizes text for MC13 Ministerial Statement | WTO | 26 January 2024
    At a meeting of the Dialogue on Plastics Pollution and Environmentally Sustainable Plastics Trade on 26 January, the 76 co-sponsors of the talks celebrated the work completed over the past year and reached agreement on the ministerial statement to be issued at the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13) at the end of February.
  • Parliament probing lobbyists who fought sustainable packaging rules | Politico | 26 January 2024
    The European Parliament is launching an investigation into whether industry lobbyists went too far as they cajoled lawmakers to loosen new EU rules that would replace throwaway packaging with reusable options.

Environment @ 55th Session of the Human Rights Council

The 55th regular session of the Human Rights Council (HRC55) is taking place in less than a month, from 26 February to 5 April 2024, at Palais des Nations. As the environment and human rights become more interlinked, the environment is high on the agenda of the Council. The right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment is the main environmental theme of the March session of the Council, with a report by the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, other environmental issues will also be addressed including human rights defenders, cultural rights, the right to food, and climate change.

To develop more and stronger synergies among stakeholders and a better outreach on the environmental agenda of HRC55, including the activities taking place in parallel to the Council’s session, the Geneva Environment Network and its partners are convening an information-sharing session on human rights and environment-related activities to HRC55. This event will discuss and share information on planned environment-related activities at and around HRC55, such as in-person and online events, publications, or exhibitions, among others, and have an exchange on possible synergies. They will feed the GEN page on HRC55 which will provide an updated calendar of these environment-related events. → Register and join the info-sharing session in person (International Environment House 1) or online (Webex) on 8 February 2024 at 10:00 CET. Share as well information on environment-related activities at this session.

Fisheries Subsidies Agreement | Entering the New Phase of Operationalization of the Fund

This week, the World Trade Organization Informal Open-ended Negotiating Group on Rules on Fisheries Subsidies will meet for the last sessions ahead of the 13th Ministerial Conference (MC13), taking place at the end of the month in Abu Dhabi. During the past ‘Fish Month’, members worked to produce the text for the second wave of negotiations of the Fisheries Subsidies Agreement, which will hopefully conclude at MC13 with the creation of additional disciplines, on fisheries subsidies that contribute to overcapacity and overfishing. To speed up the implementation of the agreement, on 31 January the Steering Committee of the WTO Fisheries Funding Mechanism held its first meeting to get ready to provide assistance to developing members and least-developed country members (LDCs) to help them implement the Agreement once it enters into force. Amounting to CHF 12 million, the Fund has been operational since November 2022.

Last month, Cabo Verde deposited its instrument of acceptance of the Agreement, bringing the total number of WTO members that have formally accepted the Agreement to 56, corresponding to 51 per cent of what is needed for the Agreement to come into effect (two-thirds of the WTO membership).

Other relevant news related to fisheries include:

  • Energy transition of fishing fleets: Opportunities and challenges for developing countries | UNCTAD | 30 January 2024
    The fisheries sector is important for food security, jobs and for the livelihoods of millions of people, especially in developing countries. Fishing fleets are a key contributor to the fisheries and seafood value chain, but also an important source of GHG emissions because they rely on fossil fuels such as marine diesel as a source of energy. This study aims to provide a first mapping of the main challenges and opportunities of the energy transition of fishing vessels for developing countries.

Upcoming Deadlines for Submissions and Calls Related to the Environment

With the environment high on the agenda of International Geneva and beyond, different international processes, negotiations, and fora regularly call for inputs in preparation for future reports and guidelines, as well as contests. → Find here calls for submissions related to the environment and here information on ongoing environmental contests.

  • The 2024 Regional Forum on Sustainable Development for the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe region will take place on 13 and 14 March 2024 in Geneva under the theme “Reinforcing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in the Economic Commission for Europe region in times of multiple crises: The effective delivery of sustainable, resilient and innovative solutions”. Interested parties are invited to organize virtual side events with proposals involving multiple organisations, member States and related to the in-focus goals. Applications are open until 9 February 2024 and should be submitted through the Side Event form.
  • In preparation of this year’s World Wildlife Day, celebrated under the theme of “Connecting People and Planet: Exploring Digital Innovation in Wildlife Conservation”, the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) is hosting an International Youth Art contest in partnership with the Secretariat of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The contest is open to youth artists aged 4-18. All contestants have until 6 February 2024 to submit their work. All entries must be submitted electronically. The finalists and winning entries will be presented at the official WWD event on 4 March 2024.

WMO New Executive Management Team

Last week, the World Meteorological Organization appointed Ko Barrett as Deputy Secretary-General and Thomas Asare as Assistant Secretary-General, cementing a new Executive Management team under the leadership of Secretary-General Celeste Saulo. Ko Barrett is currently the senior advisor for climate at the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and is a former Vice-Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Thomas Asare is Comptroller and Director of the Division of Financial and Administrative Management at UNICEF. The new Executive Management team succeeds Petteri Taalas (Secretary-General), Elena Manaenkova (Deputy Secretary-General) and Wenjian Zhang (Assistant Secretary-General), who completed their terms in office. → Read WMO press release

What (Else) to Read Next?

  • The end of the beginning: General Assembly recognition of the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment | Marc Limon | Open Global Rights | 1 February 2024
    “The UN Human Rights Council’s recognition of the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment is a political declaration that paves the way to establishing its legal meaning.”
  • Catalonia declares drought emergency, extending restrictions to Barcelona | The Guardian | 1 February 2024
    After more than 1,000 days of drought, the Catalan government has formally announced a state of emergency, extending water restrictions to Barcelona and the surrounding region.
  • The PFAS Files | ENDS Briefing | 1 February
    To take stock of where we are, ENDS produced a PFAS Files briefing, featuring an exclusive investigation into the English landfills found to contain significant levels of PFAS in their leachate, analysis exploring just how the UK can manage its serious quantities of now-banned PFOS firefighting foam, and insights from US scientists warning of emerging contaminants that UK regulators may do well to watch out for.
  • From saving endangered species to ambitious climate goals: Positive environmental stories from 2024 | Euronews Green | 1 February 2024
    Eco-anxiety, climate doom, environmental existential dread – as green journalists, we see these terms used a lot – and often feel them ourselves. While there’s a lot to be worried about when it comes to the climate and nature crises, we must not lose hope – because hopelessness breeds apathy.
  • Extraction of raw materials to rise by 60% by 2060, says UN report | The Guardian | 31 January 2024
    The global extraction of raw materials is expected to increase by 60% by 2060, with calamitous consequences for the climate and the environment, according to an unpublished UN analysis to be released at UNEA-6. Natural resource extraction has soared by almost 400% since 1970 due to industrialisation, urbanisation and population growth, according to a presentation of the five-yearly UN Global Resource Outlook made to EU ministers last week.
  • Climate-related financial impact guide | World Business Council on Sustainable Development | 31 January 2024
    WBCSD’s CEO Guide to the Climate-related Corporate Performance and Accountability System (CPAS) emphasizes the importance of decision useful climate risk and opportunity information and insights from the 2023 Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosure (TCFD) Status Report reveal that over 70% of users prioritize a company’s disclosure of climate-related impacts on its financial position and performance, second only to GHG emissions, highlighting the need for comprehensive reporting.
  • Paving the Way to a Toxic-Free Planet: The New Global Framework on Chemicals – for a Planet Free of Harm from Chemicals and Waste | Giulia Carlini | CIEL | 31 January 2024
    The adoption of the new Global Framework on Chemicals at ICCM5 marks a significant step in global chemicals and waste management, while promoting sustainability and safeguarding human rights. As the framework’s provisions are implemented and further developed, they will shape the future of global chemical management efforts.
  • How a US mining firm sued Mexico for billions – for trying to protect its own seabed | The Guardian | 31 January 2024
    Local fishers helped halt underwater mining off Baja California’s coast in 2018. But then an obscure international legal process was put into motion
  • Saudi Arabia to host largest-ever UN conference on land and drought | UNCCD | 30 January 2024
    The Riyadh COP16 will be the largest-ever meeting of UNCCD’s 197 Parties, the first to be held in the Middle East region and the largest multilateral conference ever hosted by Saudi Arabia. 2024 also marks the 30th anniversary of the UNCCD, one of the three major environmental treaties known as the Rio Conventions, alongside climate change and biodiversity.
  • Why are farmers protesting in France and other parts of Europe? | Reuters | 30 January 2024
    Farmers in France, the EU’s biggest agricultural producer, say they are not being paid enough and are choked by excessive regulation on environmental protection.
  • Why a Natural Gas Storage Climate ‘Disaster’ Could Happen Again | Inside Climate News | 30 January 2024
    A year after a major methane leak from underground gas storage, a new study identifies potentially thousands of similarly risky wells across the United States.
  • After millions of preventable deaths, climate change must be treated like a health emergency | Colin J. Carlson | Nature Medicine | 30 January 2024
    Health impacts from climate change have been apparent for at least 20 years, but the climate crisis is still not treated like other global public health emergencies.
  • Voluntary Standards and Initiatives for Carbon Management. Navigating the landscape | IISD and State of Sustainability Initiatives | 29 January 2024
    As people worldwide grapple with the effects of rising temperatures, companies are under increasing legal, financial, and societal pressure to cut their emissions. Voluntary standards and initiatives for carbon management (VSICMs) are voluntary measures that organizations can use to develop, report, register, or certify certain activities or processes related to climate action.
  • Waste incinerator plan sparks protests, highlights Malaysia’s landfill shortage | Straits Times | 29 January 2024
    Residents of a former coal-mining town in Malaysia’s Selangor state are up in arms over plans to build a RM4.5 billion (S$1.3 billion) incinerator in their district, fearing health hazards from the waste plant’s emissions.
  • En Valais, le glacier de Corbassière devenu inutilisable comme archive climatique | RTS | 27 January 2024
    Le glacier de Corbassière au Grand Combin (VS) ne permet plus d’obtenir des informations fiables sur le climat et la pollution atmosphérique du passé. Sa fonte est plus rapide qu’on ne le supposait jusqu’ici, selon une étude de scientifiques suisses et italiens parue dans la revue Nature Geoscience.
  • Members make progress on trade and environmental sustainability outcomes for MC13 | WTO | 25 January 2024
    WTO members taking part in the Trade and Environmental Sustainability Structured Discussions (TESSD) on 25 January considered further refinements to the group’s package of outcomes to be launched at MC13. The package reflects the progress made since MC12 and charts the way forward towards identifying possible concrete actions for trade policy to support environmental sustainability. Members also welcomed Peru as the newest participant in TESSD, which now includes 76 WTO members as co-sponsors.
  • Rapid groundwater decline and some cases of recovery in aquifers globally | Scott Jasechko, Hansjörg Seybold, Debra Perrone, Ying Fan, Mohammad Shamsudduha, Richard G. Taylor, Othman Fallatah & James W. Kirchner  | Nature | 24 January 2024
    The widespread acceleration in groundwater-level deepening highlights an urgent need for more effective measures to address groundwater depletion. This analysis also reveals specific cases in which depletion trends have reversed following policy changes, managed aquifer recharge and surface-water diversions, demonstrating the potential for depleted aquifer systems to recover.
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20 Feb 2024

Ongoing Contests

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