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. During the COVID-19 pandemic, some live events organized by organizations around the world, contributing to the global environmental agenda, have also been included. 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.

Photo of the week | Press conference of the International Ministerial Conference to combat marine litter and plastic pollution | World Trade Organization, 2 September 2021.

The Right to Breath Clean Air

International Day of Clean Air for blue skies – celebrated on 7 September – enters its second year in 2021. The need for clean air remains as important as ever, as air pollution causes approximately 7 million premature deaths annually, making it the single greatest environmental risk to human health and one of the main avoidable causes of death and disease globally. This year’s day theme “Healthy Air, Healthy Planet” focuses on the global nature of clean air. We all breathe the same air and one atmosphere protects and sustains us all, pollution is a global problem and we must act together to combat it. The global celebration of the 2nd International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies hosted by UNEP will take place on 7 September at 15:00 CEST. #WorldCleanAirDay #HealthyAirHealthyPlanet

In the run-up to the day:

  • UNEP issued the First Global Assessment of Air Pollution Legislation (GAAPL) on 3 September. The report assesses air quality laws and regulations in 194 States and the European Union. It found that one in three countries in the world lack any legally mandated standards for outdoor air quality, and concluded with key elements for a robust model of air quality governance to be considered in national legislation. It makes the case for considering a global treaty on ambient air quality standards.
  • WMO issued the First Air Quality and Climate Bulletin on 3 September. The Bulletin highlights the main factors that influence air quality patterns in 2020, in comparison to other years. It shows how there were episodes of both improvement and deterioration of air quality in different parts of the world.

Our Update on the International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies lists various resources and relevant information on addressing air pollution in international and local Geneva, as well as online resources and events taking place around the world to celebrate the day.

Sustainable Recovery through Sustainable Fashion

Sustainable Fashion is referenced by Stockholm+50, and the UNEP report ‘Sustainability and Circularity in the Textile Value Chain – Global Stocktaking’ as having the potential to support a Sustainable Recovery For All. In this context, UN EMG and partners are hosting the Sustainable Recovery through Sustainable Fashion: A Focus on the Environmental Dimensions Nexus Dialogue on 7 September at 14.00 CEST to facilitate an exchange on possible approaches to address the environmental facets of the sustainable fashion nexus.

Further information on the environmental cost of the fashion sector and international collaboration to address this issue can be found in our update.

Europe’s Melting Glaciers | Wednesdays for the Planet

Wednesdays for the Planet – our series of online screenings and virtual presentations with experts highlighting the natural world and other environmental challenges our planet faces – is back this week with a focus on the climate change impact on Europe’s glaciers. The Deutsche Welle (DW) documentary “Europe’s Melting Glaciers” shows that it is perhaps far too late to save the Alpine glaciers. And now, the dangers caused by tons of melting ice are rising sharply. Every year, climate change is destroying two of the currently 70 square kilometers of glaciers left in the Alps.

Join us Wednesday 8 September from 13:30 CEST to watch Matthias Huss, the Head of Glacier Monitoring Switzerland (GLAMOS) and a scientific member of the Mountain Hydrology and Mass Movements Glaciology Research Unit at the Swiss Federal Research Institute WSL, sharing recent developments and updated figures.

The videos from previous episodes of Wednesdays for the Planet remain accessible on our website if you wish to find out more about rewilding, environmentally sustainable fashion, marine plastic pollution, and more environmental topics.

From Geneva to the World, Multilateralism Matters

From climate change to global health, the challenges today require greater cooperation among States. The message is clear: multilateralism matters. To promote this message, the delegation of the European Union to the UN and other international organizations is inviting you to visit the outdoor photo exhibition From Geneva to the World – #MultlilateralismMatters, paying tribute to the work of Geneva-based multilateral institutions and the benefit it brings to people across the world. The vernissage of the exhibit, running until 30 September Quai Wilson, takes place on Monday 6 September at 17:30 CEST.

Progress on the Issue of Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution

Last week, more than 1,000 representatives from 140 countries and numerous non-governmental organizations took part in the first International Ministerial Conference on Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution, co-convened by Germany, Ecuador, Ghana and Viet Nam, in Geneva and online, to make case for a globally binding agreement to fight marine litter and plastic waste in the environment. Outcomes and resources:

Happening Abroad

This week, institutions from international Geneva are contributing to the IUCN World Conservation Congress, taking place in Marseille & Online, from 3-11 September 2021. The IUCN Congress brings together governments, civil society, indigenous peoples, scientists and business to drive action on today’s most pressing environmental and sustainability challenges (explore main outcomes through IISD Earth Negotiations Bulletin coverage), and is organized into four main parts:

  • The Forum, a marketplace of new conservation ideas, research and policy: 4-7 September 2021
  • IUCN Members’ Assembly – the world’s largest democratic environmental decision-making platform: 8-10 September 2021
    IUCN’s more than 1,400 Member organizations will take decisions that are expected to influence global conservation policy for the coming decade.
  • The Exhibition – where IUCN Members and Commissions, businesses, partners and academia host stands and events to showcase their research and innovations: 4-9 September 2021
  • The Nature Generation Areas – engaging the general public in conservation: 4-11 September 2021

What (Else) Should I Read / Listen to Next?

  • Compendium of WHO and other UN guidance on health and environment | WHO, UNDP, UNEP & UNICEF | 3 September 2021
    Compendium of 500 actions aimed at reducing death and diseases driven by environmental risk factors, the first such resource to unite this expertise from across the UN system.
  • The Atlas of Mortality and Economic Losses from Weather, Climate and Water Extremes (1970–2019) | WMO & UNDRR | 1 September 2021
    The Atlas provides an overview of impacts from weather, climate and water extremes, and shows that between 1970 and 2019, there were more than 11,000 disasters attributed to these extremes globally, accounting for just over 2 million deaths and US$ 3.64 trillion in losses.
  • Inside the 20-year campaign to rid the world of leaded fuel | UNEP | 30 August 2021
    Leaded gasoline has finally reached the end of the road. The last country to use leaded petrol, Algeria, has phased out the fuel. The successful enforcement of the ban on leaded petrol is a huge milestone for global health and our environment.
  • Green Recoveries for a Jobs-Rich Future | UN PAGE | 31 August 2021
    The latest Green Renaissance podcast compiles the best parts from PAGE’s flagship event at the UN High-Level Political Forum back in July, on Green Recoveries for a Jobs-Rich Future. The event itself featured a brilliant panel of speakers, and the episode captures the most relevant messages.
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