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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

Find more suggestions and resources to celebrate World Environment Day in Geneva and abroad on our dedicated page. Other events organized by stakeholders in Geneva include:

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:

Other relevant news and updates on plastics include:

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. 
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