2019 in Review

As 2019 comes to a close, we thank you for your support and collaboration and look forward to another exciting year!

Thousands of colleagues working for international organizations, forums, federations, academic institutions, business, non-governmental and governmental organizations contributed again this year to making Geneva a global hub for environmental governance. Congratulations to all your hard work and engagement!

In 2019, the Geneva Environment Network organized 44 multi-stakeholder briefings and outreach events, in addition to 31 student information sessions with universities and secondary schools from Asia, Australia, Europe and North America.

Click here for the list and summaries of events organized by the Geneva Environment Network in 2019.

Our selection of quotes for the year

“Nature is sending us invoices, nature is telling us that unless we take care of it, it will send us invoices in the form of droughts, in the form of fires, in the form of inundations. So nature is telling us that unless we take action, it will become more and more expensive.”  “We take care of nature. Because when we take care of nature, nature takes care of us.”
Inger Andersen, UN Environment Programme Executive Director, at the Pechakucha Night for 20 years International Environment House & Geneva Environment Network, International Environment House, 25 November 2019

“We sensed a common understanding of a common problem; today, we have transformed that understanding into action. The Parties to the Basel Convention have done so within a short time: we have established an ambitious partnership, we have amended the convention to reflect the issues related to plastic waste and we have adopted a comprehensive list of actions.”
Sverre Thomas Jahre, Senior Adviser at the Ministry of Climate and Environment, Norway, at the closure of the Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention, International Conference Centre Geneva, 10 May 2019

“2019 is basically the year when to me we went from “oops” to “fuck”, which is the year when we basically understood that human-induced climate change is real, we can’t deny it anymore and that we have to do something.”
Dan Archer, Artivist, at the Pechakuchanight for 20 years International Environment House & Geneva Environment Network, International Environment House, 25 November 2019

“The cost of going to WHO standards globally in the mega-cities is about 700 billion a year. The cost to comply with the 2°C mitigation target is 1 trillion. Guess what happens when you start to act cross-sector and say: “We are going to invest globally into the shared, cross-sectorial policies and actions that will be addressing air quality, energy availability and climate altogether”. The cost is around 650 billion a year lower.”
Pavel Kabat, World Meteorological Organization Chief Scientist, at the World Environment Day Roundtable on Clean Air, International Environment House, 3 June 2019

“States have obligations to protect the life and health of citizens, including access to safe water & clean and healthy environment. No state should be allowed to export & trade chemicals that have been banned in their country for health & environmental reasons.”
Baskut Tuncak, UN Special Rapporteur on the implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, at the 41st Session of the Human Rights Council side event on highly hazardous pesticides, Palais des Nations, 24 June 2019 and on many other occasions (3 million tonnes pesticides are applied every year. 3 Mio acute poisoning every year, 220k deaths. We are all exposed on a daily basis. Chronic diseases appear years after exposure.)

“Investing in a cleaning environment is one of the best investments a government can make!”
David Boyd, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, at the 40th session of the Human Rights Council, Palais des Nations, 4 March 2019

“Costa Rica made possible the impossible. We believe on our decarbonization plan. Decarbonizing is ethical, good for our health and our economy!”
H.E. Carlos Alvarado, President of Costa Rica, UNEP Champion of the Earth 2019, at the “So What” series of the UNOG SDG Lab, Palais des Nations, 17 December 2019

“Land is where we live. Land is under growing human pressure and is part of the solution, but land cannot do it all.” “Land already in use could feed the world in a changing climate and provide biomass for renewable energy, but early, far-reaching action across several areas is required.”
Hoesung Lee, Chair of the IPCC, and Hans-Otto Pörtner, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II, at the Launch of the IPCC Report on Climate Change and Land, World Meteorological Organization, 8 August 2019

“People belong to the land and not the other way around. Everyone belongs to somewhere specific and you can always return. If you lose that connection, you will be lost. What if there’s no more land or no more functional land? Then what becomes of us, not only as a nation or our collective people, but also our own selves. If we leave, there will be no return. What do we become as a culture? For me and earlier generations of Marshaleses, the cost of failure is simple: just 30 years ago our forefathers fought long and hard for our political independence and for our statehood; can you imagine having won an independent state only to realise now that your children and grandchildren might see it disappear? It is time that evidence-based analysis and reports like these do not just need to tell the story of our common demise, bur serve as a wake-up call to act.”
Doreen Debrum, Permanent Representative of the Marshall Islands to the United Nations Office at Geneva, at the 110th Council of the International Organization for Migration, WIPO Conference Hall, 27 November 2019

“Life is integrated! You can’t approach policy by just looking at forests, by just looking at biodiversity or by just looking at climate change: you have to view them all together the way we have done with the SDGs, by making human hopes, human aspirations and human fear the target of your collective policy. Life is complex! The more we try to segment it and put it in little boxes and silos, it does not work that way.”
Nikhil Seth, UNITAR Director General, at the High-Level Discussion: The Role of Geneva in Placing Environment on the Highest Political Agenda, celebrating two decades of the Geneva Environment Network, International Environment House, 26 November 2019

“As an environmental economist, I believe that creative ways have to be explored so that the cost of conservation and enforcement are recognized. Custodians of wildlife and local communities play a vital role in managing wildlife and deserve to be rewarded. The contribution of conservation and legal wildlife trade to sustainable development is evident: it provides for our food, our well-being, our jobs and economic development.”
Ivonne Higuero, CITES Secretary General, at the Opening Ceremony of the 18th Meeting of the Conferences to the Parties of CITES, Palexpo, 17 August 2019

“We need to elaborate global rules for better governance of mineral resources. Mankind cannot hope for a plan B or a planet B.”
Marc Chardonnens, Director of the Federal Office for the Environment, at the World Resources Forum, International Conference Centre Geneva, 23 October 2019

“The real thing with transformation is that it means that you have to transform the system that you are working in, and if we are not transforming our own system, our own decision-making, we will never achieve transformation. If you are not transforming the system of decision-making, you will not transform the outcome of the decisions.”
Marie-Claire Graf, Vice-President, Swiss Youth for Climate, at the High-Level Discussion: The Role of Geneva in Placing Environment on the Highest Political Agenda, celebrating two decades of the Geneva Environment Network, International Environment House, 26 November 2019

“Switzerland and Geneva are committed to contribute to multilateral system. Geneva hosts around 40 International Organizations and 400 NGOs, as well as 179 states in expertise in all areas of today’s critical issues, and particularly on the environment. This positions Geneva as a hub for environmental governance.”
Antonio Hodgers, President of the Canton of Geneva, at the World Environment Day Roundtable on Clean Air, International Environment House, 3 June 2019

“It is my pleasure to welcome you in Geneva today. Geneva, which is a perfect place to develop and put in place new initiatives of cooperation. Geneva, which offers a privileged place of exchange of ideas among the scientific community, the UN agencies, the international organizations, the NGOs, the private sector and the 179 countries represented in Geneva.”
Alain Berset, Swiss Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department of Home Affairs, at the Opening Ceremony of the 18th Meeting of the Conferences to the Parties of CITES, Palexpo, 17 August 2019

“The International Environment House is a place where under a common roof a range of UN and non-governmental organizations are active in the field of environment and sustainable development. It is a symbol for a UN that is not restricting itself to its silos but open to engage and collaborate with other UN agencies and stakeholders.”
Sebastian König on behalf of H.E. Franz Perrez, Swiss Ambassador for the Environment, at the High-Level Discussion: The Role of Geneva in Placing Environment on the Highest Political Agenda, celebrating two decades of the Geneva Environment Network, International Environment House, 26 November 2019

2018 in Review

We thank you for your support and collaboration in 2018 and look forward to another exciting year.

Thousands of colleagues working for international organizations, forums, federations, academic institutions, business, non-governmental and governmental organizations contributed this year again to making Geneva a global hub for environmental governance. Congratulations for all the good work you do!

Click here for the list of events organized by the Geneva Environment Network in 2018.

Our selection of quotes for the year

“There’s no excuse any longer for saying we don’t understand how Human Rights apply to the environment.”
Professor John Knox, former Special Rapporteur on Human Rights & the Environment, during the launch of the United Nations Environment Programme Environmental Rights Initiative, March 2018

“At 2°C our islands will be under water!”
Young woman representative from the Marshall Islands, during the 1st-ever Climate Science & Humanitarian Dialogue, October 2018

“Governments must give priority to what is clean, not to what is not clean. Environmentally-oriented policies bring about massive added value for the economy.”
Bertrand Piccard, Initiator & Chairman of the Solar Impulse Foundation, during the WTO Trade Forum, October 2018.

“Half a degree matters, each year matters, each choice matters!”
Valérie Masson-Delmotte, co-chair of IPCC WGI for the AR6, during the presentation of the IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels at the 1st-ever Climate Science & Humanitarian Dialogue, October 2018

“The world has turned the corner on tobacco. Now it must do the same for the ‘new tobacco’ – the toxic air that billions breathe every day,” “No one, rich or poor, can escape air pollution. It is a silent public health emergency.”
Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO’s director general, First WHO Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health, October–November 2018

“Humanity doesn’t own nature. Nature has rights. Rivers rights have been recognized by tribunals. Love nature. Think back at your happy times, chances are that you were somewhere with nature. Renaissance of nature is what we need.”
Inger Andersen, IUCN Director General, during the IUCN 70th Anniversary event “Nature’s contribution to the 2030 Agenda” at the Graduate Institute, October 2018

“The severity of the plastic pollution problem and its impacts on human health and the environment are undeniable and require urgent action. We cannot let a few countries or industries sectors prevent much-needed and overdue action from the global community.”
David Azoulay, Managing Attorney, CIEL, during the Basel Convention OEWG11, September 2018