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, most 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: Chalet de la Paix and collaborative vegetable garden in the parc of Villa Les Ormeaux – Permanent Mission of France to the United Nations.

Join Generation Restoration

Institutions in Geneva published various statements in the past days, joining hands with UN institutions and partners as part of Generation Restoration. Activities to celebrate World Environment Day and welcome the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration continue this week in Geneva.

The recent announcement that this year’s Earth Overshoot Day  – marking the date when humanity has used all the natural resources that earth regenerates during the entire year – will fall on 29 July, stresses the importance of recovery of ecosystems that have been degraded or destroyed, as well as conservation of the ecosystems that are still intact.

Taking Steps for Our Shared Oceans

The second fully virtual celebration of United Nations World Oceans Day, on 8 June 2021, will highlight the theme of The Ocean: Life and Livelihoods. This year’s theme is especially relevant in the context of the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development, launched last week. The Decade will strengthen international cooperation to develop scientific research and innovative technologies that can connect ocean science with the needs of society.

Stronger Global Response to Plastic Pollution

As we head towards the day, global discussions on the issues of marine litter and plastic pollution are intensifying. On 1 June, the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) presented the Oceans Day Plastic Pollution Declaration at the UN high-level debate on the Ocean. The declaration is currently endorsed by 76 countries, committing to work for a decision at UNEA5.2 to establish an Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee recommending starting negotiations of a global legally binding agreement to combat plastic pollution.  This declaration, welcomed by civil society organizations, builds momentum in the lead-up to the first global Ministerial Conference on Marine Litter and Plastic Pollution, to be hosted by Ecuador, Ghana, Germany and Vietnam on 1–2 September this year. It follows the pre-meetings to this Ministerial Conference that took place virtually on 27-28 May.

Climate Action in Geneva and Beyond

New Geneva Climate Plan

The Canton of Geneva presented its new Climate Plan last week at the World Meteorological Organization. It details how the Canton aims to reduce its emissions by 60% by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 in line with the Paris Agreement. This plan comes at a timely moment, as the Swiss people prepare to vote on Federal Act on the Reduction of Greenhouse Gas Emissions (CO2 Act).

International Geneva Walking the Talk

Permanent missions, UN institutions and other entities of international Geneva are continuing their efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the 2050 Today initiative. The first carbon footprint of international Geneva will be released soon.

Preparations for UN Climate Change Conference

The UN Climate Change subsidiary bodies sessions, in preparation for the UN Climate Change Conference COP 26 in Glasgow started last week, after being suspended for over a year. Key updates include:

  • Civil society is highly mobilized, as concern is growing about the modalities of virtual negotiations and whether they would allow for the effective participation of civil society and indigenous people. CIEL, Earthjustice and partners also hosted a briefing discussing the role of legal instruments on access to information and public participation in developing effective climate policies.
  • On World Environment Day, the new Youth Climate Action website was launched to give young people the tested knowledge, insights, resources, and connections to influence the UNFCCC climate negotiation processes – and push for meaningful action from their governments to keep average global temperature rise below 1.5 C. Youth Climate Action is a joint project between YOUNGOs, CliMates, and the International Institute for Sustainable Development.
  • To symbolize the urgent need to take ambitious action for the climate, We Are Watching – a giant eye flag by the Geneva art activist Dan Acher – will be touring in the UK, after its start in Geneva in February during the last Human Rights Council session.

Climate on the Agenda of Upcoming Session of the Human Rights Council

Climate will also be high on the agenda of the upcoming the 47th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC47), starting on 21 June. The HRC is expected to adopt its annual resolution on human rights and climate change. The OHCHR’s analytical study on the promotion and protection of the rights of older persons in the context of climate change (A/HRC/47/46), requested last year in Resolution 44/7, will be presented at this session, and discussed at the Council’s Panel on Climate Change on 30 June.

Wednesdays for the Planet | Organic Food

As citizen in Switzerland and other western countries are increasingly concerned with the health and environmental impact of their food, demand for organic products has quickly risen. But do consumers always get what it says on the label? How can authenticity be verified? Is organic food automatically healthier? Explore these questions with us at the next Wednesdays for the Planet featuring the documentary “Organic Food – Hype or Hope?“.

Gamini Manuweera from UNEP Chemicals and Health Branch will present the recent report on the environmental and health impacts of pesticides and fertilizers and ways to minimize those impacts, and Alexander Kasterine from the International Trade Centre will share insights to complement the screening. These presentations will shed light on some widely discussed issues, while Swiss citizen are preparing to vote on two initiatives related to agriculture, pesticides, and water. Discover the videos from 9 June, 13.30 CEST onwards.

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.

Connect with GENvironment

Our Friday conversations with environmental experts from the Geneva community are back after a short break! On 11 June (9.00 CEST), join us for a virtual coffee with Fulai Sheng, Head of the Economic and Trade Policy Unit at UNEP Resources and Markets Branch. His areas of expertise include sustainable infrastructure, inclusive green economies, integrated public policymaking, international payments for ecosystem services, and integrated economic and environmental accounting.

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