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Exploring Environmental Governance in Geneva

The annual excursion to Gland and Geneva took off from Freiburg on February 19. On the first day, the students met with actors directly involved in shaping global environmental governance. Around noon, the group arrived in Gland at the International Union for Nature Conservation (IUNC). This union constitutes the world's largest environmental network, composed by more than 1,300 member organisations such as the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) and national associations like Dansk Ornitologisk Forening - Birdlife Denmark. According to the IUCN, the year 2020's highlight will be the coming World Conservation Congress in Marseilles, which will define the direction of global environmental policy. The IUCN Policy Officer David Goodman, who met the MEG15s, encouraged the students strongly to follow the congress as it will reference an extensive amount of preparatory work from the regional - to the international level. Altogether, the congress strives to define the next steps towards IUCN's declared goal: "a just world that values and conserves nature" (IUCN 2020).


Students in the lounge area next to the Serpent Bar in Building E. The big windows allowed a splendid view across the garden and the snow-covered mountains (Photo: Sara Bejtullahu).


On the second day, the students dived deeper into the complexity of environmental issues. The students had the absolute pleasure of meeting United Nations Economic Commission for Europe's Marco Keiner, Director of the Environment Division, as well as Nicola Koch, Chef of Cabinet and Secretary of the Commission. The speakers alluded to multilateral environmental agreements as well as career opportunities within the UN system. In this context, the trade perspectives were presented by Robert Hamwey, who contributes to the work of the intergovernmental body, UNCTAD. Hamwey unfolded details behind the value chain of a global product like coffee within the broader framework of a green economy, while Josep Gari from the United Nations Development Programme presented the profound values of nature-based solutions.


Nicola Koch, Chef de Cabinet and Secretary of the Economic Commission for Europe, on the future of multilateralism and career opportunities within the UN system (Photo: Sofie Hovmand).


The students saw the Assembly Hall, which is the biggest room in the Palais des Nations. This room lies in the heart of the building complex and is regularly used for events such as the annual meetings of the World Health Organization and the International Labour Organization (Photo: Sofie Hovmand).

On the third day, the speakers focused on the synergies between international organisations. The students were introduced to the Green Growth Knowledge Platform, the Partnership for Action on Green Economy, and the BRS Conventions at the International Environment House on Chemin des Anémones. Additionally, the group met with the charismatic Vincent Yu, who - among other achievements - has personified the interests of the G-77 group through negotiations at the Conference of the Parties Conference.


During the excursion, the students made new acquaintances. Here Paola greets Vincent Lee at the International Environment House after the last session Friday (Photo: Sofie Hovmand).

Each one of the three days underlined one of the components of the Master's programme in Environmental Governance as the students explored how to: shape complex futures.


The discussions brought smiles to the students (Photo: Sofie Hovmand).


The students extended their gratitude to the speakers with regional specialties from Freiburg. Susanne here thanks Jost Dittkrist,  who is a programme officer at the Science and Technical Branch at the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (Photo: Sofie Hovmand).

Text: Sofie Hovmand

Source: IUCN. ‘International Union for Conservation of Nature’. IUCN. (February 20, 2020).