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 also on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn, and Youtube, or visit our website regularly for additional updates.

Image of the week | Side event to the 2023 BRS COPs “Science-Policy Panel on Chemicals, Waste and Pollution Prevention: Building the Linkages from Science to Action“, part of a series of webinars and events aiming to build bridges and promote collaboration and knowledge sharing between and among stakeholders, and to raise public awareness about the OEWG preparing proposals for the establishment of the panel |  ©  Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions Secretariat.

2023 Meetings of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions

The 2023 meetings of the Conference of Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions will conclude this week in Geneva, under the theme Accelerating action: Targets for the sound management of chemicals and waste. Follow the live coverage from the Earth Negotiation Bulletin and other useful information in our update on the meetings.

Main outcomes and highlights from the first week of negotiations include: 

  • Parties to the Stockholm Convention agreed to eliminate the production and use of three forever chemicals, UV-328, a UV filter used in plastics, Dechlorane Plus, a flame retardant, and the pesticide methoxychlor, added to the Annex A list for global elimination, but exemptions for the two plastic chemicals. →  Learn more:
  • Parties to the Stockholm Convention took up new work on labeling POPs in stockpiles, products, and articles; and supported countries through technical assistance.
  • The PCB Fair raised awareness of the urgency to meet the 2025 and 2028 PCB deadlines under the Stockholm Convention. The Stockholm Convention requires Parties to phase out the use of PCB in equipment by 2025 and ensure the elimination of PCB by 2028.

During the second week of negotiations, the Geneva Environment Network will organize and support various side events:

  • Tackling the Hidden Basel Plastic Wastes | Organized by the Basel Action Network (BAN) and the International Pollutants Elimination Network (IPEN), the event will explore the types of plastics that the Basel Convention fails to control. Register to join online or attend in person in Room 11-12, on Monday 8 May 2023, 18:15 – 19:45 CEST.
  • Connecting the dots: Youth and the National Implementation Plans (NIPs) | Co-organized by IPEN, AKO Foundation, and Africa Youth Alliance for Chemicals and Waste (AYACW), the event will discuss the importance of ensuring that National Implementation Plans (NIPs) for the Stockholm Conventions for sustainability are participatory and inclusive and that the voices of youth are reflected in the processes. Register to join online or attend in person in Room 3, on Tuesday 9 May 2023, 18:15 – 19:45 CEST.
  • Advancing a Human Rights-based Approach to Pollution for People and the Planet | Co-organized by OHCHR, UNEP, UNDP, ILO, UNECE, FAO, the Minamata Convention, UN EMG, and the Geneva Environment Network, the event will explore recent developments of the interconnectedness between human rights, a just transition and the environment, and identify key entry points to strengthen a human rights-based approach to the implementation of the BRS Conventions, as well as the Minamata Convention on Mercury, including ways in which human rights could be applied to accelerate the sound management of chemicals and waste. Register to join online or attend in person in Room C, on Wednesday 10 May 2023, 13:45 – 14:45 CEST.
  • Unlocking MEAs’ Potential: Supporting Parties’ Environmental Action through Data and Knowledge Management | Organized by the Minamata Convention, the BRS Conventions Secretariat, CITES, InforMEA and the Geneva Environment Network, the event will bring together various knowledge management initiatives from multilateral environmental agreements that contribute to facilitating the parties’ work in the implementation and compliance of the respective conventions in order to accelerate environmental progress. →  Register to join online or in person in Room 11-12, on Wednesday 10 May 2023, 18:15 – 19:45 CEST.
  • Abuse of Article 11 to Escape the Basel Convention’s Plastics Amendments | Organized by the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and Basel Action Network (BAN), the event will discuss the Basel Convention’s Plastic Amendments and how Article 11 is being used to avoid them. → Watch the stream online or attend in person in Room 3, on Wednesday 10 May 2023, 18:15 – 19:45 CEST.

Other events of interest taking place this week include:

Towards the Plastics Treaty | Synergies with Multilateral Processes

With the second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-2), taking place at the end of the month, Parties and stakeholders attending the Meetings of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions highly-debated plastics last week. From plenary sessions to side events, delegates discussed synergies with the INC process. The event Plastics and Chemicals Under the Stockholm Convention: Impact on the ground and potential synergies and gaps in relation to a future plastics treaty discussed chemicals of concern used in plastics and how the regulation of chemicals under the Stockholm Convention could support the work of the future treaty:

The Stockholm Convention gives an important basis to continue to ban POPs in plastics. […] The submission of the High Ambition Coalition to end plastic pollution on the Options for Elements to the INC Process highlights that like the Stockholm Convention, the treaty should include robust procedures for adding new chemicals and groups of chemicals to its global regulations, including a ban on the ‘dirty firsts’. […] If chemicals under the plastics treaty are found to be POPs and nominated under the Stockholm Convention, two options could arise: removing substances from the plastics treaty and regulate them under the Stockholm Convention or regulating the substance under both. […]  We need more knowledge on plastics materials. We see the intergovernal science policy panel on chemicals, waste and pollution as an important tool in this respect. We would like to explore further the possibility of a science policy interface supplementary to the SPP and dedicated to procedures under the new plastics treaty: a POPROC for chemicals in plastics and polimers.
— Sverre Thomas JAHRE | Senior Advisor, Department for Marine Management and Pollution Control, Ministry of Climate and Environment, Norway 

To note also that at the Geneva Celebration of World Environment Day, to be held at the International Environment House in four weeks, leading diplomats and international experts will highlight how international Geneva multilateral diplomacy system, with its numerous intergovernmental organizations, permanent governmental missions, NGOs, platforms, academic institutions, and other stakeholders, is engaged in finding solutions to end plastic pollution.

Events discussing the INC process this week include:

  • The INC Plastic Pollution Secretariat three technical webinars ahead of the negotiations in Paris:
    • Organization of work at INC-2 | 8 May 2023 at 15:00 CEST
    • Control measures for sustainable consumption and production | 10 May 2023 at 13:00 CEST
    • Means of implementation | 11 May 2023 at 13:00 CEST
  • FAO hybrid informal briefing for Permanent Missions in Geneva to share information with FAO Members and exchange views on the role of plastics in agriculture | 11 May 2023 from 10:00 to 11:30 CEST
  • Systemiq is developing an independent report defining a Roadmap to end plastic pollution by 2040. The project is funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers as a contribution to the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution. As part of this process, online Consultations on how to reach zero plastic pollution by 2040 are organized on 13 May 2023 in two sessions held from 09:00 to 10:00 CEST and from 15:00 to 16:00 CEST.

Recent news, resources, and updates of interest include:

  • The United Nations Environment Programme and the Secretariat of the BRS Conventions released a technical report on  Chemicals in Plastics. The report provides a state of knowledge on chemicals in plastics and based on compelling scientific evidence calls for urgent action to address chemicals in plastics as part of the global action on plastic pollution. It aims to support the negotiation process to develop the instrument on plastic pollution.
  • The Centre for Environment Justice and Development (CEJAD), IPEN, and Arnika released the study Hazardous Chemicals in Plastic Products and Food Chain in Kenya, reporting findings that consumer products made from recycled plastics in Kenya, including toys, contain brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and highly toxic and banned POPs. → Rewatch the presentation of the report made at the BRS COPs on 5 May 2023.
  • Misuse of the Basel Convention Article 11 to Avoid Compliance with New Plastic Waste Controls | Basel Action Network | 3 May 2023
    This legal opinion analyzes the recent efforts by certain OECD countries to avoid the application of Basel plastics amendments. Such efforts to avoid the new international trade controls for plastic wastes, often by the same countries that voted to adopt the amendments, mark a sad chapter for the Basel Convention and in international environmental law in general.
  • Micro- and Nanoplastics Breach the Blood–Brain Barrier (BBB): Biomolecular Corona’s Role Revealed |  Verena Kopatz et al. | 1 May 2023
    Humans are continuously exposed to polymeric materials such as in textiles, car tires, and packaging. This study shows that nanometer-sized particles—but not bigger particles—reach the brain within only 2 hours after gavage, breaking the blood-brain barrier (BBB), an important biological barrier that protects the brain from harmful substances.

Understanding Circular Economy | Launch of the ILO-Circle Economy-World Bank Initiative

The vital contribution of nature and its services to social and economic development is undeniable. At an event presenting the newest results from an extensive literature review and underlining the need for a just transition to a circular economy that creates decent jobs and fairer labour markets, the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Circle Economy, and the Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE) Programme at the World Bank will launch the  ‘Jobs in the Circular Economy’ initiative. This virtual event, co-organized with the Geneva Environment Network, will provide an overview of the status quo in the circular economy and the existing evidence on decent work within the field to identify research gaps and leverage points for the creation of fairer labour markets. It will also explore key recurring themes related to decent work found in research and identify corresponding research gaps that should be addressed to advance practice and support a just transition toward a circular economy. Register on Webex to join us on 9 May from 13:30 to 15:00 CEST.

Innovating and Unlocking Finance for Nature-based Solutions

Building on the momentum of the recognition of Nature-based Solutions in various international environmental agreements, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Geneva Environment Network – within the context of the EU NetworkNature project – and in collaboration with the European Commission, will host Innovating and Unlocking Finance for Nature-based Solutions which will present key messages from the European Investment Bank’s upcoming report of “Investing in nature-based solutions: State-of-play and way forward for public and private financial measures in Europe”. The event will be followed by a discussion on the role of public and private sectors in accelerating and unblocking pathways for innovative financing Nature-based Solutions. Register to join the event taking place at Palais des Nations or online on Thursday 11 May 2023 from 16:00 to 17:30 CEST.

Accelerating Sustainable Development Through Trade

Two Forums this week address the global trade agenda and will include sessions addressing environmental issues.

The 40th UN/CEFACT Forum will play an important role in shaping the future of trade facilitation and electronic business, supporting global trade and value chain management for sustainable development, and fostering collaboration among professionals from around the world. Various meetings are taking place in parallel to the forum, focusing also on environmental-related issues, including:

UNCTAD will host the third UN Trade Forum to take stock of trade policies that are best tailored to the challenges that the world faces. Discussions will focus on approaches that will make trading systems more resilient, particularly in developing countries, clarify the effectiveness and feasibility of a set of trade-related “high-impact initiatives” to respond to global challenges, and to expedite progress towards the SDGs, and will include:

  • Launch of the Trade and Environment Review 2023 |8 May 2023 15:00 – 17:00 | Palais des Nations | Room XXVI
    The Trade and Environment Review 2023, “Building a sustainable ocean economy”, examines and analyzes several emerging topics, including the sustainable fisheries, aquaculture, and seaweed sectors, as levers for a sustainable economic recovery; fisheries subsidies and non-tariff measures reform; the decarbonization of shipping and maritime supply chains; and the impact plastic pollution the food chain.

Switzerland Overshoot Day

Each year, Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity has used all the biological resources that Earth can renew during the entire year. The date of this year’s Earth Overshoot Day will be revealed on World Environment Day, on 5 June.

Switzerland’s Overshoot Day, reflecting the ecological footprint by comparing its population’s demand and the nation’s biocapacity for this year, falls on 13 May 2023. From this date onwards, Switzerland will be living on credit at the expense of future generations. The day is a reminder of the need to reduce the pressure on the environment and its resources in order to #MoveTheDate. → Learn more about this observation and how to reduce your own ecological footprint.

Green Spring in Geneva | Migratory Birds and Water Exhibition

World Migratory Bird Day – celebrated on the second Saturday in May and the second Saturday in October – is an annual global campaign dedicated to raising awareness of migratory birds and the need for international cooperation to conserve them. This year, the day focuses on water, which is a significant threat to migratory birds. Check the various birdwatching and activities to celebrate the day

Gathering momentum after the historic UN Water Convention that took place in New York last March, the European Union and UN Water are organizing an exhibition ‘L’eau dans tous ses états‘ to increase the public’s understanding of international water cooperation. In particular, it will highlight actions that have been taken among actors from International Geneva and the European Union. Learn more and register to attend the opening of the exhibition on 12 May at 12:45.

Find out about more exhibitions, outdoor events, and activities to enjoy the good weather and a Green Spring in Geneva on our update.

Call for Inputs

Call for contributions on Indigenous and local knowledge | IPBES | The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is inviting Indigenous peoples and local communities and other knowledge holders from all over the world to contribute to three biodiversity assessments being developed by the Panel: the nexus of biodiversity, food, water, and health; transformative change; and business and biodiversity. Deadline for submission is on 8 May 2023.

2023 WTO Public Forum | WTO | This Forum will explore how trade and the WTO can help create a greener and more sustainable future. Specifically, it will delve into how the services sector, digitalization, and inclusive trade policies can support this objective. Individuals interested in attending the Forum should complete the online registration form no later than 17 August 2023.

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