Highlights and images for 30 January 2023

Bangkok, Thailand

A view of the room_OEWG1.2_30jan2023_photo.jpg

A view of the plenary hall

A view of the panel_OEWG1.2_30jan2023_photo.jpg

A view of the dais during the morning plenary

Sheila Aggarwal-Khan, UNEP_OEWG1.2_30jan2023_photo.jpg

Sheila Aggarwal-Khan, UN Environment Programme

Designing such an interface between science and policy is the task ahead for delegates at the resumed first session of the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG 1.2). The linkages between biodiversity, climate change, and pollution were repeatedly referenced. These three crises reinforce one another. Climate change and biodiversity already have science-policy interfaces drawing widespread attention to the scale of their respective problems.

Valentina Sierra, Uruguay_OEWG1.2_30jan2023_photo.jpg

Valentina Sierra, Uruguay, OEWG Vice-Chair

Pinsak Suraswadi, Thailand_OEWG1.2_30jan2023_photo copy.jpg

Pinsak Suraswadi, Thailand

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General, World Health Organisation_OEWG1.2_30jan2023_photo.jpg

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General, World Health Organization

The meeting started slowly, focusing on procedural issues. Process matters. A transparent process builds trust, among parties and, ultimately, in the outcome. Sound processes also ensure clarity on the work to be completed and by whom. To select the Chair, delegates proceeded with a vote by secret ballot. After an extended process, designed to ensure transparency, Gudi Alkemade, the Netherlands, was elected as OEWG Chair.

Delegates return their ballot papers_OEWG1.2_30jan2023_photo.jpg

Delegates return their ballot papers

Gudi Alkemade, Netherlands_OEWG1.2_30jan2023_photo.jpg

Gudi Alkemade, Netherlands, was elected as the new OEWG Chair

A lunchtime “deep dive” session kickstarted the substantive discussions. It focused on the scope of the panel, which may be extremely wide: chemicals, waste, and pollution are each broad categories of substances and challenges. Participants highlighted the role of social sciences, natural sciences, Indigenous knowledge, and science communication. Others stressed the need to consider the circumstances of developing countries, particularly to strengthen their relationship with the scientific community to build capacity and respond to emerging challenges.

A view of the room during the_OEWG1.2_30jan2023_photo.jpg

A view of the room during the "deep dive" session on scope

A delegate takes a video of the speakers_OEWG1.2_30jan2023_photo.jpg

A delegate takes a video of the speakers

The question of scope also arose in the afternoon’s plenary discussions. Many countries noted the benefits of a broad scope, and many stressed the need for a process to identify and prioritize issues. Many also stated that the ever-changing nature of chemicals and waste challenges require a broad scope to allow the panel to respond to emerging needs. 

A delegate takes a photo_OEWG1.2_30jan2023_photo.jpg

A delegate takes a photo

Others noted that a broad scope could allow the panel to assist and complement several existing agreements and the future legally binding instrument on plastics. Notwithstanding the importance of a broad scope, some countries underscored that the panel must be additive to avoid duplication of existing work. Scope will remain a key topic for the rest of the meeting.

All ENB photos are free to use with attribution. For this event, please use: Photo by IISD/ENB | Natalia Mroz

Written and edited by Jennifer Allan, Ph.D., Deborah Davenport, Ph.D., Moritz Petersmann, and Asterios Tsioumanis, Ph.D

To receive free coverage of global environmental events delivered to your inbox, subscribe to the ENB Update newsletter.