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Hi everyone, it's Kasmira, editor-in-chief of Geneva Solutions. Welcome to our first monthly digest where we bring you a roundup of our top headlines for the month of March.

At the forefront of our agenda was the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council, where the return of the US brought fresh clashes between geopolitical rivals and abuses were called out in countries such as Myanmar and Belarus - not forgetting important resolutions on the environment and equitable access to vaccines.

International Women's Day also happened this month, and we'd like to highlight the different women who have inspired us through their art, activism, and in governance. Speaking of which, March was also the month we saw Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala join as head of the World Trade Organization.

And Geneva’s International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights, though virtual, was also an opportunity to speak to some courageous filmmakers and rights defenders.

photo journaliste

Kasmira Jefford


Top article of the month

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🌽 A food summit in distress. The UN Food Systems Summit continued to stir up controversy this month, with UN special rapporteur on the right to food, Michael Fakhri, blasting it before the Human Rights Council for putting agribusiness interests before human rights and over 500 farmers and rights groups snubbing the conference to be held later this year. Speaking to Geneva Solutions, UN deputy special envoy to the summit, Martin Frick, rebutted the claims.

Michelle Langrand

Here's what else has happened

🇺🇳 The return of great power politics to the Human Rights Council. The 46th session saw the return of the US, bringing fresh clashes between geopolitical rivals, while abuses were called out in countries such as China, Myanmar and Belarus. Marc Limon, executive director and founder of the Universal Rights Group, provides his key takeaways from an eventful month.

Peace & Humanitarian

⚕️ "WHO as fragile as it is indispensable." A new report released and commissioned by the Fondation pour Genève, analyses the success and the failures of the WHO and international Geneva organisations in their response to the pandemic, and the implications for the future of multilateralism.

Global Health

♻️ A new global treaty to tackle plastic pollution? With 400bn tonnes of plastic produced every year, countries are increasingly convinced that an international agreement is needed to tackle plastic pollution from its first stages of production all the way to its final stage as waste. Delegates at the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) were hopeful negotiations may begin at next year's forum.

Climate & Environment

💰🌱 EU green finance rules and what they mean for Switzerland. The EU's landmark legislation, which was introduced this month, not only affects financial market participants in Europe, but also force any companies selling green investment products inside the EU to step up their game, including Swiss fund and asset managers.

Sustainable Business & Finance (EN)

📡 Frontier technologies are redefining the world. Frontier technologies, such as nanotechnology, the internet of things, drones, or 3D printing, are being adopted in developed countries faster and faster. However, most of the countries are still trailing behind and risk missing out if they don’t build the required skills, a UN report has warned.

Science & Technology

Refugee crisis

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MSF worked in collaboration with Sea-Watch on board the Sea-Watch 4 until February 2021, providing medical care and supporting with humanitarian assistance for rescued people. (Credit: Médecins Sans Frontières)

✊ Stephen Cornish: Rescuing refugees ‘a moral imperative’ not a crime As countries across Europe adopt increasingly tough migration policies, NGOs are being prosecuted for acts of solidarity towards refugees, asylum seekers and migrants. We speak to Stephen Cornish, director general of Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Switzerland, and Behrouz Boochani, a Kurdish Iranian journalist and author who was imprisoned in Australia’s offshore asylum system for six years, about the threat this growing hostility poses to Europe’s democracies.

Pip Cook


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🎨 The female voice in public space. Senegalese graffiti artist and activist Zeinixx, featured here with local Geneva artists, Amikal and Nadia Seika, created a huge and colourful fresco of a woman, opposite Geneva’s university hospital. In our conversation with her, she opens up about her experience as the first female graffiti artist in Senegal, the difficulties of acceptance, her inspiration and the importance of having a choice in life.

Video by Zelda Chauvet

Number of the month

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💰 😷 A not-so-green recovery. A report by the UN Environment Programme has revealed that only one fifth of announced recovery spending by the largest economies will have a positive impact on the environment, and this is thanks to only a handful of high-income countries.

Geneva Solutions (EN)

Solutions from Geneva

💧Showcasing urban water solutions - Covid lessons learnt. The pandemic has altered the ‘normal’ ways of life but key infection prevention measures such as handwashing and other good hygiene measures have proved useful in tackling the spread of the SARS-CoV2 virus. Urban city projects like the Upper Tana Nairobi Water fund (UTNWF), in Kenya has helped ease some of the water pressures of the capital, whilst offering innovative solutions to institutional and economic issues.

Health (EN)

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