World Environment Day

In 1972, the UN General Assembly designated 5 June as World Environment Day (WED). The first celebration, under the slogan “Only One Earth” took place in 1973. In the following years, WED has developed as a platform to raise awareness on the problems facing our environment such as air pollution, plastic pollution, illegal wildlife trade, sustainable consumption, sea-level increase, and food security, among others. Furthermore, WED helps drive change in consumption patterns and in national and international environmental policy.

2023 Theme: Solutions to Plastic Pollution

This year marks the 50th anniversary of World Environment Day, which will focus on solutions to plastic pollution, using the hashtag and slogan #BeatPlasticPollution.

More than 430 million tonnes of plastic is produced every year worldwide, half of which is designed to be used only once. Of that, less than 10 per cent is recycled. An estimated 19-23 million tonnes end up in lakes, rivers and seas annually. Microplastics – tiny plastic particles up to 5mm in diameter – find their way into food, water and air. It is estimated that each person on the planet consumes more than 50,000 plastic particles per year –and many more if inhalation is considered. Discarded or burnt single-use plastic harms human health and biodiversity and pollutes every ecosystem from mountain tops to the ocean floor.

With available science and solutions to tackle the problem, governments, companies and other stakeholders must scale up and speed actions to solve this crisis. This underscores the importance of this World Environment Day in mobilizing transformative action from every corner of the world.

A resolution was adopted in 2022 at the United Nations Environment Assembly 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. The second meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC-2) will be held in Paris at the end of May 2023. The instrument is to be based on a comprehensive approach that addresses the full life cycle of plastic.

2023 Host Country: Côte d’Ivoire

Each year, World Environment Day is hosted by a different country in which official celebrations take place. The host country for 2023 is Côte d’Ivoire. Côte d’Ivoire has banned the use of plastic bags since 2014, supporting a shift to reusable packaging. The country’s largest city, Abidjan, has also become a hub for start-ups looking to beat plastic pollution.

The scourge of plastic pollution is a visible threat that impacts every community around the world. As host of World Environment Day 2023, we welcome all sectors, from governments and businesses to civil society, to come together to find and champion solutions.

Jean-Luc Assi, Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development | 2 February 2023 | Source

This year’s World Environment Day will be supported by the Government of the Netherlands, a member of the High Ambition Coalition calling for a strong and ambitious international legally binding instrument to combat plastic pollution.

Plastic pollution and its detrimental impacts on health, the economy and the environment cannot be ignored. Urgent action is required. At the same time, we need true, effective and robust solutions. As part of several policies aimed at plastics, The Netherlands and the European community at large are fully committed to reduce the production and consumption of single-use plastic, which can and must be replaced with durable and sustainable alternatives.

Vivianne Heijnen, Netherlands’ Minister for the Environment | 2 February 2023 | Source

Ending Plastic Pollution and the Role of Geneva

Many actors in Geneva are actively working to address the plastic crisis at the global and local level. As a hub of environmental and health governance, Geneva plays an important role in the multilateral processes to address plastic pollution.

The Geneva Environment Network has developed a Plastics and the Environment series, a set of online resources on the plastics crisis, its impact on people and the environment, and international cooperation to address this global problem, and also launched in 2020 the Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution Dialogues, aiming at outreaching and creating synergies among actors, highlighting efforts made by intergovernmental organizations and governments, businesses, the scientific community, civil society and individuals in the hope of informing and creating stronger synergies and coordinated actions.

The outcomes of recent negotiations and the Geneva Beat Plastic Pollution Dialogues provided some concrete examples of how multilateral Geneva is engaged in finding solutions to address this major crisis. These include:

  • Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions | The fourteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention (COP-14, 2019) adopted amendments to Annexes II, VIII and IX to the Convention with the objectives of enhancing the control of the transboundary movements of plastic waste and clarifying the scope of the Convention as it applies to such waste. Parties to the Stockholm Convention agreed to eliminate the production and use of three forever chemicals, UV-328, a UV filter used in plastics, at the eleventh meeting of its Conference of the Parties, in May 2023.
  • World Trade Organization | The Informal Dialogue on Plastics Pollution and Environmentally Sustainable Plastics Trade (IDP) seeks to complement discussions in the Committee on Trade and Environment (CTE) and other fora. As of April 2023, 76 WTO members are participating in the informal dialogue. In December 2021, the Members issued a Ministerial Statement on plastic pollution. The 12th Ministerial Conference, issued a new Ministerial Statement to take stock of the IDP.
  • World Health Assembly | Adoption of a landmark resolution on The Impact of Chemicals, Waste, and Pollution on Human Health at the 76th session of the World Health Assembly, initially tabled by Peru, Canada, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Mexico, Monaco, Switzerland, Uruguay, and the European Union and its Member States. The resolution refers to scaling-up work on plastics and health.
  • Human Rights Council | During the General Debate on Agenda Item 3 of the 52nd Session of the Human Rights Council, in March 2023, the Permanent Representative of Peru, on behalf of Peru and 32 other countries, delivered a statement underscoring that “The impact of plastic pollution on a broad range of human rights is undeniable.” The statement urges Member States to call for a plastics treaty firmly rooted in a human rights-based approach that reduces inequalities, enables just transition, and protects the environment.

2023: Activities in Geneva


Events by partners in Geneva as well as other activities throughout the week with the participation of various stakeholders are indicated in this section.

World Environment Day Celebration | Multilateral Solutions to Beat Plastic Pollution

5 June 2023 | 11:00–13:30 CEST

In line with the official World Environment Day 2023 Celebration, held in Côte d’Ivoire, the traditional high-level dialogue highlighted efforts and progress undertaken by actors in Geneva to beat plastic pollution.

The high-level dialogue was followed by a reception.

#MakeMercuryHistory Photo Contest Event | Minamata Online

5 June 2023 | 13:00-14:00 CEST

This special Minamata Online session focused 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 preserving  human health and the environment from the toxic effects of mercury.

High-Level Dialogue with women championing resilience and multiplying solutions in the face of the triple crisis for climate, food & energy

5 June 2023 | 14:30 – 17:00 CEST 

The High-Level Dialogue was hosted by SHE Changes Climate and FAO in collaboration with UNECE, UNITAR,  International Gender Champions Secretariat, New Women Connectors and IFRC.

Outdoor Activities

World Environment Day is the perfect occasion to explore the nature in your surroundings. Discover our suggestions below and find many more on the platform “Dans ma nature” from the Canton of Geneva. For hiking lovers, the interactive map from SwissMobile highlights national, regional and local hiking trails.

Nature Centre Pointe-à-la-bise

The Nature Centre Pointe-à-la-bise is located in the heart of a unique nature reserve on the shores of Lake Geneva. This exceptional natural area is home to a magnificent reed bed which is the home to many wild species.

Nature Centre Vallon de l'Allondon

The Nature Centre of the Allondon Valley is an open door to discover the wonders of nature, located in an exceptional site on the banks of the Allondon, a tributary of the Rhône and an important floodplain biotope. It offers various fun, educational and relaxing activities related to nature. A hiking path also follows the river.

Bioparc Genève

The wildlife park Bioparc in Bellevue is the opportunity to discover local and exotic animal species, and learn more about conservation. The park is home to 250 animals, a third of which are threatened species in the wild.

The Rhone hiking path

From Jussy to Anières, a walking route takes you through one of the most beautiful regions in the Canton of Geneva. Along the way, discover vineyards, mountain views, the lake and, of course, biodiversity with a variety of bird species.

Hike in Geneva Far West

This path will let you explore the far west of Geneva, to the westernmost region of Switzerland and to the famous border stone no.1. The path follows historic routes, with a beautiful view of the Rhone, for a quiet moment in nature.

Hike in the countryside of Geneva

From Jussy to Hermance, a walking route takes you through one of the most beautiful regions in the Canton of Geneva. Along the way, discover vineyards, mountain views, the lake and, of course, biodiversity with a variety of bird species. A part of this part (Corsier – Hermance) is wheelchair accessible.

Birdwatching in the Marais du château

The local river Seymaz is an important biodiversity hotspot following its renaturation project by the Canton, which allowed to restored 4 hectares of wetlands. The “Marais du château” (Castle Marsh) is a nature reserve managed by Pro Nature Genève and an ideal location to go birdwatching.

Biking Saturdays

Pro Vélo Genève offers guided biking tours and repair workshops on Saturdays. On 4 June, one of the organized bike tour will explore gardens around Geneva will poetic breaks to appreciate the natural world.

The Green Cycling Route

The Green Route brings you from Schaffhausen to Geneva in 7 routes, letting you discover six regional natural parks on your bicycle. Route 7 brings you from Le Sentier to Geneva, it is 68.9 km long.

2010 – 2022

2022 | Only One Earth
The World Environment Day 2022 global campaign #OnlyOneEarth calls for transformative changes to policies and choices to enable cleaner, greener, and sustainable living in harmony with nature. It will focus on the need to live sustainably in harmony with nature, and our possibilities for shifting to a greener lifestyle through both policies and individual choices. “Only One Earth” was the motto for the 1972 Stockholm Conference. 50 years on, the motto is as pertinent as ever – this planet is our only home, and humanity must safeguard its finite resources.

2021 | Ecosystem Restoration
Launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. A call for the protection and revival of ecosystems all around the world, for the benefit of people and nature. It aims to halt the degradation of ecosystems, and restore them to achieve global goals. Only with healthy ecosystems can we enhance people’s livelihoods, counteract climate change, and stop the collapse of biodiversity.

2020 | Time for Nature
A call to action to combat the accelerating species loss and degradation of the natural world. One million plant and animal species risk extinction, largely due to human activities. Recent events, from bushfires in Brazil, the United States and Australia to locust infestations across East Africa – and now, a global disease pandemic – demonstrate the interdependence of humans and the webs of life in which they exist. Nature is sending us a message.

2019 | Beat Air Pollution
A call for action to combat one of the greatest environmental emerging challenges of our time. Often you can’t even see it, but air pollution is everywhere and affects your health from head to toe. With every breath, you are probably sucking in tiny particles that attack your lungs, heart and brain.

2018 | Beat Plastic Pollution
The aim was for people to strive and change their everyday lives to reduce the heavy burden of plastic pollution. People should be free from the over-reliance on single-use or disposables, as they have severe environmental consequences. In addition, we should liberate our natural places, our wildlife and our own health from plastics.

2017 | Connecting Nature to People
In the city and on land, from the poles to the equator, it encourages worldwide awareness for the protection of our environment.

2016 | Go Wild for Life
The campaign aimed to reduce and prevent the illegal trade in wildlife.

2015 | Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.
This was the slogan picked through a voting process on social media.

2014 | International Year of Small Islands Developing States (SIDS)
The UN General Assembly aimed to highlight the development challenges and successes of the SIDS, focusing on global warming and its impact on ocean levels. The slogan was “Raise your voice not the sea level” for this year.

2013 | Think. Eat. Save.
The campaign addressed the huge annual food waste and loss. With the amount added together, it would release a large quantity of food as well as reduce carbon footprint. The theme also aimed to empower people to make informed choices about the food they eat so as to reduce the overall ecological impact due to the worldwide production of food.

2012 | The Green Economy
The campaign invited people to examine their activities and lifestyle and see how the concept of a “Green Economy” fits into it.

2011 | Forests: Nature at Your Service.
Activities were organized with clean-ups, concerts, exhibits, film festivals, community events, tree plantings and much more.

2010 | Many Species. One Planet. One Future.
Celebrating the diversity of life on Earth as part of the 2010 International Year of Biodiversity.