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 | Photo of Palais des Nations and Ariana Park taken on World Environment Day 2010, in which theme was Biodiversity. Numerous activities for the public took place in Ariana Park and WIPO, which were both open to the public, as well as at Place des Nations. The sector of Place des Nations was closed to traffic and the mini train allowed visitors to visit for free the sector of Nations and its numerous UN institutions. Photo © UN Geneva, 5 June 2010.
Celebrating World Environment Day and Multilateral Solutions to Beat Plastic Pollution
This year marks the 50th anniversary of World Environment Day. Since its first celebration on 5 June 1973, the day has been an occasion to raise awareness of environmental problems and to call for collaborative action across actors around the world.
Fifty years later, the problem of plastic pollution has become a major contributor to the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution. Building on the outcomes of last year’s fifth meeting of the United Nations Environment Assembly which adopted a landmark resolution to develop a legally binding instrument on plastic pollution, including in the marine environment, with the ambition to complete the negotiations by end of 2024, this year’s World Environment Day will be celebrated under the theme ‘Solutions to Plastic Pollution’.
As international Geneva is strongly engaged in the agenda to beat plastic pollution, this year’s traditional World Environment Day celebration in Geneva, to be held after the second meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-2) which concluded in Paris last Friday 2 June 2023, will focus on multilateral solutions to plastic pollution. The outcomes of recent negotiations, such as the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions Conferences of the Parties, the World Trade Organization Ministerial Conference, the World Health Assembly, or the Human Rights Council, and the Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution Dialogues that kicked off at the end of 2020, have provided some concrete examples of how multilateral Geneva is engaged in finding solutions to address this major crisis.
Leading diplomats and international experts taking the floor at this event will highlight how the international Geneva multilateral diplomacy system is engaged in finding solutions to beat plastic pollution. The high-level dialogue will be followed by a reception offered by the Swiss Government and local authorities. → Register and join us at the International Environment House on Monday 5 June at 11:00 CEST.
- #MakeMercuryHistory Photo Contest | Minamata Online | This special Minamata Online session will focus on photography and mercury, with the three winners of the 2022 #MakeMercuryHistory photo contest participating in the conversation with jury members on the role of photography in driving positive change and how it can help to preserve human health and the environment from the toxic effects of mercury. → Join the event online from 13:00 to 14:00 CEST.
- High-Level Dialogue with women championing resilience and multiplying solutions in the face of the triple crisis for climate, food & energy | SHE Changes Climate in cooperation with FAO in collaboration with UNECE, UNITAR, International Gender Champions Secretariat, New Women Connectors and IFRC, is hosting this event to give a voice to the people who are on the front lines of climate change, conflicts and natural disasters.→ Register for the event taking place from 14:30 to 17:00 CEST.
Towards a Treaty to End Plastic Pollution | Paris Outcomes
More than 1,700 participants – over 700 delegates from 169 Member States and over 900 observers – attended the second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee to develop an international legally binding instrument on plastic pollution (INC-2), hosted by France at the headquarters of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Paris, under the chairmanship of H.E. Gustavo Meza-Cuadra. The main outcomes include:
- Mandate to the Chair to prepare zero draft of the treaty ahead of INC-3
- Secretariat requested to invite submissions on elements not discussed at INC-2, such as the principles and scope of the instrument, and any potential areas for intersessional work compiled by the cofacilitators of the two contact groups, to inform the work of INC-3. Deadlines: 15 August for observers and by 15 September 2023 for Member States.
- Bureau elected | Georgia, Estonia, Sweden, and the US joined as members elected at INC-2.
- Next venues agreed | INC-3 in Nairobi, Kenya, INC-4 in Ottawa, Canada, and INC-5 in the Republic of Korea.
- Following discussions on voting rights, agreed on an interpretive paragraph for the Draft Rules of Procedure that apply on a provisional basis to the work of the INC.
Useful analyses on the meeting include:
- Earth Negotiations Bulletin
- INC Chair to prepare zero draft of international agreement on plastic pollution as Paris negotiations end | INC Secretariat Press Release | 3 June 2023
- Small Island Developing States call for ambitious Global Plastics Treaty – INC-2 Paris | IUCN | 2 June 2023
- Chemical Threats to Health and Biodiversity Taking Center Stage in Plastics Treaty Talks | IPEN International Pollutants Elimination Network News Release | 2 June 2023
- Second Session of Plastics Treaty Negotiations Delivers Zero Draft Mandate, Intersessional Roadmap | CIEL Press Release | 2 June 2023
- Paris Briefings (INC-2 Meeting) | International Panel on Chemical Pollution | 1 June 2023
- Plastics treaty negotiations | Magnus Løvold Blogs | May – June 2023
- With only half of the week spent on substantive discussion, treaty negotiations end with lackluster outcomes | BreakFreeFromPlastic | 3 June 2023
- UN experts warn of “toxic tidal wave” as plastic pollutes environment and threatens human rights | OHCHR | 1 June 2023
Other relevant news and updates on plastics include:
- Trade-Related Policy Measures to Reduce Plastic Pollution: Building on the state of play | IISD | 30 May 2023
This report examines the trade-related plastic pollution-reduction measures that have already been taken and notified by members of the WTO.
- Biodegradable plastics shown to disrupt ocean life | E&T | 1 June 2023
Biodegradable plastic made from cane sugar instead of fossil fuels has been shown to have negative impacts on ocean life, University of Gothenburg researchers have said.
- Paris 2024 Olympics to Set a New Standard with Single-Use Plastic Ban | One Planet Network | 1 June 2023
The city plans to ban single-use plastic at the 2024 Olympic Games, marking a historic stride in global sustainability efforts.
- Plastic recycling is failing – here’s how the world must respond | The Conversation | 30 May 2023
A more sustainable approach would prioritize preventing plastic waste by taking action at earlier stages of a plastic product’s lifecycle: reducing how much plastic is ultimately made, reusing what exists, and replacing plastic with alternative materials where appropriate.
- Chemicals Used in Plastic Materials Harm Human Health and the Economy | Endocrine Society | 30 May 2023
Flame retardants (used as stabilizers in plastics); phthalates (used as a softener in polyvinyl chloride plastics); bisphenols (used as a building in polycarbonate plastics); and perfluoroalkyl substances (used in high-density polyethylene plastic containers) contribute to disease and disability.
- How standards address plastic pollution | ISO | April 2023
As the global community comes together to develop multilateral solutions, International Standards can provide useful tools to help turn commitment into action.
CITES Plants Committee to Advance Global Conservation and Trade Regulation in Plant Species
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Plants Committee will convene in Geneva for its 26th meeting (CITES AC26), from 5 to 9 June 2023. Items on the agenda include a strategic approach on CITES and Forests, preparation for the implementation of upcoming projects, and advancing the Review of Significant Trade (RST). It is to be noted that the listings of plant species in CITES Appendices have been steadily increasing in recent years and, in particular, those of tree species including those considered commercially important. Today, the number of plant species whose international trade is regulated by CITES is more than 34,000, of which 800 are tree species. → Learn more about the Meeting on the press release issued on 1 June 2023.
Outcomes of World Meteorological Congress
The 19th Session of the World Meteorological Congress, the supreme body of the World Meteorological Organization, concluded in Geneva last week, defining new top strategic priorities to guide WMO through the next four years. Main outcomes include:
- Appointment of new President and Vice-Presidents, Executive Council (EC) members, and Secretary-General of the Organization. Prof. Celeste Saulo of Argentina was appointed the first female Secretary-General of WMO. Director of, and will take office on 1 January 2024 to succeed Prof Petteri Taalas, who will then have completed his two-term mandate.
- Early Warnings for All officially becomes WMO’s top priority | WMO activities should be coordinated and consolidated under the Early Warnings for All umbrella and WMO programmes, technical commissions and regional activities aligned to achieve the goal.
- A new Global Greenhouse Gas Watch to strengthen monitoring of heat-trapping gases to inform implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change.
- The cryosphere and hydrology will be given greater prominence in the future, 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.
- WMO’s science and innovation policy was updated to adapt to new research priorities and embrace the technological might of super-computing and Artificial Intelligence.
- Ramped up WMO’s Gender Action Plan.
111th Session of the International Labour Conference
The 111th session of the International Labour Conference — the International Labour Organization (ILO) supreme deliberative and decision-making body — is convening in Geneva from 5 to 16 June 2023. Worker, employer and government delegates from the ILO’s 187 Member States will tackle a wide range of issues, including a General Discussion on a Just Transition. In the context of the General Discussion on a Just Transition, the Committee will meet from 5 to 14 June 2023 in Room XVII at the Palais des Nations. From 5 to 6 June, the Plenary of the Committee will hold a General discussion based on Report VI – Achieving a just transition towards environmentally sustainable economies and societies for all. → Consult the presentation of the report.
New Mayor of Geneva to Prioritize Human Rights and Climate Action
Alfonso Gomez is the new Mayor of Geneva since 1st June 2023. His term will end on 31 May 2024. When taking office last week, the new Mayor highlighted that the double challenge of human rights and climate change is one of the priorities of the City of Geneva Executive Council and for his term. Through various events, he intends to promote dialogue, to promote creative solutions to these challenges, to act locally in order to improve the quality of life of the population and of future generations. Among the major themes in the spotlight during these twelve months, food will occupy a central place. The Mayor concluded that he looks forward to continuing to work on the ground for a sustainable, ecological, and united Geneva.
Taking Place Abroad
- Bonn Climate Change Conference | The Bonn Climate Change Conference is scheduled from 5 to 15 June 2023. The pre-sessional meetings will take place from 30 May to 4 June. Building on the mandates that emerged from COP 27 in Egypt last year, the conference will host a large number of mandated events and continue discussions on issues of critical importance, such as the global stocktake, global goal on adaptation, just transition, loss and damage and the mitigation work programme. The conference is expected to prepare draft decisions for adoption at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP28), which will kick off in the United Arab Emirates on 30 November 2023.
- 2nd Session of the United Nations Habitat Assembly | The second session of the United Nations Habitat Assembly — the highest-level decision-making body concerning urbanization and human settlements matters worldwide — will be held in a hybrid format at the UN Office at Nairobi from 5 to 9 June 2023 under the theme “A sustainable urban future through inclusive and effective multilateralism: achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in times of global crises.” The Assembly convenes every four years with the aim to tackle the most pressing human settlement challenges faced by the world today and to preserve and rehabilitate the urban environment.
What (Else) to Read Next?
- The Council of Europe and the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment | Universal Rights Group Geneva | 1 June 2023
The Fourth Summit of the Council of Europe’s 46 members concluded with the adoption of the Reykjavík Declaration and the recognition of the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. However, it falls short of delivering a solid commitment to legally recognize the right to a clean and healthy environment.
- Climate Science Beats Climate Fatalism | Carl-Friedrich Schleussner, Bill Hare and Johan Rockström | Project Syndicate| 1 June 2023
Now that the Earth has warmed roughly 1.2°C, “once-in-a-century” heatwaves, forest fires, and floods are becoming more familiar to us. But there is still a massive difference between 1.2°C and 1.5°C, and the science shows that it is still possible to end this century at or below that threshold.
- Indigenous land rights key to curbing deforestation and restoring lands | Mongabay | 1 June 2023
Indigenous communities with land rights in Brazil’s Amazon not only curb deforestation, but better restore deforested land in their territories than the privately owned and unincorporated lands around them.
- Climate action must be a key priority for National Human Rights Institutions | Video Statement by Volker Türk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights | 30 May 2023
“The climate crisis is a human rights emergency. And like many crises, it is unjust, disproportionately affects the human rights of the most marginalized, in particular children, indigenous peoples, women, older people, migrants, people of African descent, people with disabilities, coastal communities and peasants.”
- Sustainability and Circularity in the Textile Value Chain – A Global Roadmap | UNEP | 30 May 2023
The report outlines what each stakeholder group can do individually and collectively to reach the shared destination of a circular textile sector. To do so, the report identifies three priorities: 1) shifting consumption patterns; 2) improved practices; and 3) infrastructure investment.
- Stop dumping your cast-offs on us, Ghanaian clothes traders tell EU | The Guardian | 31 May 2023
With 100 tons of clothing from the West discarded every day in Accra, ‘fast fashion’ brands must be forced to help pay for the choking textile waste they create, environmentalists say.
- Pesticides dans les denrées alimentaires : l’import-export toxique des pays européens | Public Eye | 30 May 2023
Une nouvelle analyse de Public Eye le prouve : plus de 30 % des denrées alimentaires importées de pays hors de l’Union européenne qui ont été testées contiennent des résidus de pesticides dont l’utilisation est interdite en Suisse.
- The industry more damaging to the environment than airlines | The Telegraph | 30 May 2023 Despite the ‘clean’ appearance, data giants’ emissions are set to worsen as the use of AI grows.
05 – 16 Jun 2023
ILO & Palais des Nations
05 – 09 Jun 2023
05 – 06 Jun 2023
WMO Headquarter & Online
05 Jun 2023
05 Jun 2023
05 Jun 2023
Palais des Nations | Room VII
05 Jun 2023 10:00
WTO | Room W
05 Jun 2023 11:00 – 13:30
International Environment House II (Chemin de Balexert 7-9, Châtelaine)
05 Jun 2023 13:00 – 14:00
Online | Webex
Minamata Convention on Mercury
Webinar on Opening green windows: Technological opportunities for a low-carbon world – The role of green industrial policies
05 Jun 2023 14:30 – 16:00
Online | Zoom
High-Level Dialogue with women championing resilience and multiplying solutions in the face of the triple crisis for climate, food & energy
05 Jun 2023 14:30 – 17:00
Geneva Press Club
She Changes Climate
06 – 09 Jun 2023
Online | Zoom
06 Jun 2023 12:15 – 13:45
Maison Internationale des associations
Maison Internationale des Associations
07 Jun 2023
07 Jun 2023 15:00 – 16:30
Online | Webex
Minamata Convention on Mercury
07 Jun 2023 17:00 – 20:00
SDG Solution Space (Campus Biotech Innovation Park)
07 Jun 2023 18:00 – 20:00
Maison de la paix | La Fabrique de la paix
08 Jun 2023
08 Jun 2023 11:30
Online | Zoom
Les Jeudis de l’environnement | Stratégie d’arborisation de l’aire urbaine, comment augmenter le taux de canopée dans les projets
08 Jun 2023 12:00
Republic and State of Geneva
09 Jun 2023 14:00
WTO | Room CR
05 Jun 2023
06 Jun 2023
07 Jun 2023
07 Jun 2023
08 Jun 2023
09 Jun 2023
30 Jul 2023
10 Jun 2023
11 Jun 2023
28 Sep 2023
13 Sep 2023