“Choking on plastics”: Talks of a global treaty underway in Paris

With cities producing an estimated 75% of all plastic waste, the Paris International Forum to End Plastic Pollution in Cities summit is seeking to unify solutions and establish a treaty for action.  

“Our planet is choking on plastics”, said the United Nations in a recent report. The situation is at its worst in large urban centres, where populations are dense and consumption is higher.

On the back of this damning statement came the first ever Paris International Forum to End Plastic Pollution in Cities summit on Friday 26th May. It was an in-person and online event that gathered together mayors from every continent as well as scientists, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and intergovernmental and philanthropic associations and organisations that are committed to fighting plastic pollution.  

It is being followed up with meetings held from Monday 29th May to Friday 2nd June with the 55-nation coalition of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC), which was set up in December 2022 by the UN.  

The goal is to develop an official plastics treaty aimed specifically at limiting production and favouring recycling. 


In early May, the UN’s Environment Programme (UNEP) released a proposal to reduce plastic waste by 80% by 2040 that focused on three key areas: reusing, recycling and finding solid alternatives to plastic packaging. This approach is being picked up for the potential contents of the treaty, which could also include outright bans on certain plastics that are hard to recycle as well as making improvements to waste management.  

The UNEP report identified 13,000 chemicals associated with plastic production, over 3,000 of which it considers to be dangerous, and with many nations already citing plastics as a public health risk, this aspect will be addressed by treaty-makers over the course of this week too. 

“We have a responsibility to protect human health from the most harmful polymers and chemicals of concern through the treaty,” said Rwanda’s Environment Minister, Jeanne d’Arc Mujawamariya, who is the co-chair of the High Ambition Coalition to End Plastic Pollution. 

“Real solutions to the plastics crisis will require global controls on chemicals in plastics and significant reductions in plastic production,” echoed Dr Therese Karlsson, a science advisor with the International Pollutants Elimination Network. 

There are still issues that need to be resolved before any treaty came become reality. These include figuring out how to finance new policies as well as how to implement and police them once they are enacted.  

What all agree on, however, is that a solution to the world’s plastic’s problem can’t come soon enough.  


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Monaco joins ambitious international treaty to end plastic pollution

Photo source: Naja Bertolt Jensen for Unsplash

Government action: Monaco news round-up

Monaco backs a global early warning system at the UN, welcomes new recruits to the Prince’s Carabinieri, publishes a positive trade and commerce forecast, and gives fast fashion a thumbs down.  

Though the Monaco Grand Prix has dominated the news recently, there has still been plenty happening in the Principality outside of the race.  


The Mission for Energy Transition (MTE) organised a conference on 17th May, within the framework of Monte-Carlo Fashion Week, entitled Restraining Fast Fashion: Our Responsibility to All.

It highlighted the environmental impact of brands who put out cheaply made, low-cost and often low-quality clothing and featured two guest speakers: Paule Magnier, Project Coordinator at Zero Waste Marseille, who defined “fast fashion” and proposed measures to counter it, and Inès Bensalah, Monegasque designer and Ambassador of the National Energy Pact.  

The conference took place within the framework of Monte-Carlo Fashion Week in late May. Photo source: Monaco Communications Department

The conference also put forwards alternatives to simply binning unwanted items, such upcycling and repairing clothing, as well as discussing the developing industry of rented clothing and the growth in numbers of ethical brands. 


In 2022, the United Nations proposed the concept of a Climate Risk and Early Warning System (CREWS) that would necessitate the standardisation and international exchange of meteorological measurements and data for the purposes of monitoring and forecasting developing weather situations. 

On 22nd May, a delegation from the Principality led by Carole Lanteri, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Principality of Monaco to the Office of the UN in Geneva, attended a high-level meeting whose focus was getting this system online within the next five years. Monaco has been contributing a steadily increasing amount toward large-scale global climate projects since 2015.   


A meeting of the Observatoire du Commerce (Trade Observatory) also took place on 22nd May. The group, which is made up of representatives from key stakeholders and the state, examined the forecasts for tourism and trade in the Principality, which are thought to be very favourable this summer, as well as discussing the challenges and opportunities facing the sector.   

The Observatoire du Commerce unites key players from the retail, trade and industry sectors as well as figureheads from Monaco’s government and town council. Photo source: Monaco Communications Department

Additionally, after various visits to the shopping districts carried out by the Department of Economic Development, the group was presented with suggestions for improvement in order to make local commerce more attractive, particularly during quieter periods. 

Pierre Dartout, Minister of State and Chairman of Observatory, called the meeting a place for a “privileged exchange” between the administration and economic actors.  


A ceremony to welcome five new Carabinieri to the Prince’s Carabinieri Corps was held on 25th May. After a reception by Lieutenant-Colonel Martial Pied, the Corps Commander, at the helicopter landing zone of the Caserne des Moneghetti and a review of the troops, the Pennant of the Company was presented to the young recruits by Princess Stephanie, having been blessed by the Abbé Christian Venard, the chaplain of the Force Publique in Monaco. The ceremony ended with a rendition of the Monegasque anthem by the Orchestra of the Prince’s Carabinieri. 

Princess Stephanie amongst the new recruits of the Prince’s Carabinieri Corps. Photo source: Monaco Communications Department

Tradition dictates that the new recruits will soon take an oath to Prince Albert II and the Grimaldi family, pledging to serve them with “Honour, Fidelity and Dedication”, as the motto of the Corps demands. 


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Photos: Monaco Communications Department

Use it or lose it: paid leave has an expiration date

paid leave

For private sector employees in France, paid leave does not necessarily roll over into the next year, and the deadline for use is fast approaching.  

Workers in the private sector, take heed. The government has put out a reminder that last year’s accumulated paid leave expires on 31st May, unless arrangements can be made with employers to extend it, or roll it over, into this year.  

The leave in question is anything acquired between 1st June 2021 and 31st May 2022, though in certain sectors the dates vary, whilst the principle remains the same.  

If a person has not taken all their holiday time by the end of the company’s cut-off date, they risk losing it altogether. This can be avoided in some cases by speaking directly to the employer and asking for it to be postponed, but as some organisations have “use it or lose it” policies, there is a risk they will not comply.  

Some situations allow for postponement, despite company rules. These include external constraints such as sick leave, maternity or adoption leave, or the impossibility of taking time for organisational reasons at the request of your employer.  

Employees who benefit from a time savings account (CET) can invest in it the rights resulting from periods of leave or rest (RTT) not taken. 

Paid leave is obtained at the rate of 2.5 working days per month of work performed.  


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Photo source: Vidar Nordii-Mathisen 

Visa rules for second home owners in France may be easing

visa second home france

Non-resident second home owners in France may soon be allowed a special five-year visa, allowing for a longer stay period and less red tape.

Blame it on Brexit. When the UK voted to leave the European Union, the chaos that ensued affected so much more than governmental agencies and trade. It also impacted the tens of thousands of Brits who, until then, were legally able to jump back and forth across the Channel to France, where an estimated 86,000 own second homes, and stay for as long as they wished.  

Under the current laws, UK citizens are only allowed, like any other non-EU visitor, to stay under the 90-day rule. This means that anyone coming into France can stay for a total of 90 days in a 180-day period, then they must wait another 90 days before re-entering.  

If they want to remain longer, they need to apply for a long-stay visa, giving them the right to stay from four to six months, but this needs renewing every year. It also has a fee attached.  

This may all change soon though, as the French Parliament is proposing a new visa for non-resident second homeowners that will streamline the process and eliminate the need for a certain amount of red tape.  

Introduced by Senator Corinne Imbert, this proposed amendment to the Immigration Bill states: “Any foreign national who owns a secondary residence in France may apply for an extended long-stay visa authorising him or her to stay on French territory for a period not exceeding six months per year. This visa [would be] valid for five years.” 

Support for the idea is growing, with several senators and MPs on board, particularly those from the northern reaches of France.  

The visa would be for any non-resident second home owner – not just Brits – making it a somewhat easier sell to the legislature, as well as making it more appealing for potential buyers worldwide.  

Proprietors of second homes from outside the Schengen Zone accounted for 1.5% of real estate owned in France at the end of 2019, according to Banque de France. This is up from 1% in 2001. The value of these assets came in at roughly €125 billion, a significant amount for the economy. Furthermore, second home owners pay higher property taxes than primary owners.  

The Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region accounts for just over 20% of the transactions, the highest in all of France.  


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Photo source: Jean Nicolas Fahrenberg

Inaugural Grace Influential Positive Impact Award Grace to be handed out during Monaco GP

The inaugural Grace Influential Positive Impact Award from the Princess Grace Foundation will aptly be selected and presented during the Monaco Grand Prix weekend to the Formula 1 team who has the best entry pertaining to the environmental or social sustainability.  

The Princess Grace Foundation was founded in 1982 by Prince Rainier III in honour of his wife, Grace Kelly. It continues her legacy with a prestigious awards programme that champions excellence and positive change across the arts and beyond.

This year, the Foundation is taking on a new angle as well, looking at those who have excelled in creating a positive impact for society and the environment around the globe. 

To that end, the 2023 Grace Influential Positive Impact Award invited all 10 Formula 1 teams to submit entries focusing on these topics, with a prize-giving ceremony to take place at Port Hercules on 26th May, at the start of the Grand Prix weekend in Monaco.   


The teams’ submissions will be judged on specific criteria, including how well they work within the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the UNFCCC Sports for Climate Action Framework, as well as their philosophies and philanthropic achievements, which are at the heart of the Princess Grace Foundation’s work.  

“In establishing the Grace Influential Positive Impact Award, it has been critical that we build something worthy of Princess Grace’s legacy,” said Brisa Carleton, CEO of the Princess Grace Foundation. “Through our partnership with some of the most prestigious names in motorsport, we are thrilled to shine a light on the inspirational work going on across Formula One to drive progress in sustainability.” 


The Foundation has also announced a partnership with Italian tyre company Pirelli, whose sustainability goals are being pushed throughout the sport’s world. 

“Sustainability is a fundamental pillar of Pirelli, fully integrated into the group’s vision and strategy for growth,” said Mario Isola, Head of Motorsport at Pirelli. “That’s even more true for motorsport, which has always been an extraordinary crucible for technical innovation that can then be transferred to everyday life.” 

Additional supporters who helped in the creation of the award come from top sustainability and sport strategic advisory firm Enovation Consulting and Times Square Live Media, who is providing media and development counsel. 

The winning Formula 1 team will be presented with artwork donated by renowned artist Dale Chihuly entitled Gilded Mediterranean Blue Venetian with Speckled Leaves 


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More needs to be done if the EU is to meet its sustainability goals

eu sustainability

The European Union’s latest Eurostat report has revealed that the bloc has made “significant” progress in certain areas, but only moderate steps in others, notably when it comes to the climate and the environment.  

Eurostat, the European Union’s (EU) official statistical agency, published a rather wordily titled report on 24th May – “Sustainable development in the European Union: Monitoring report on progress towards the SDGs in an EU context, 2023 edition” – which offers insight into the bloc’s progress with regards to Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  

The key findings showed that, over the last five years, many of the EU’s goals are being advanced upon, but there are still important areas where improvements can be made.  


There are specific SDGs in which the EU has excelled, such as ensuring decent job and economic growth as highlighted by the bloc’s employment levels reaching record highs of 74.6% in 2022 as well as record low unemployment.

Significant leaps forward were also made toward reducing poverty, improving gender equality, providing quality education and fostering personal security as well as improving access to justice and trust in institutions.  

There were also decent results in the areas of responsible consumption, making cities and communities more sustainable, access to clean water and sanitation, affordable clean energy supplies and marine protections. 


Areas in which work still needs to be done include stronger climate action measures, improvements to biodiversity protections on land and global partnerships.  

As member states gear up for more ambitious environmental targets, they will also need to ramp up commitment levels and efforts. Many have implemented solid measures to achieve 2030 sustainability goals, notably via the Fit for 55 package, which pertains to the legal obligations of reaching the climate goal of reducing EU emissions by at least 55% by 2030, but there is still much more to be done if this is to become a reality.  

Fragile land-based ecosystems are another hot topic and the EU is making motions to reverse the trend of declining bird and butterfly populations as well as create even more protected areas.  

As for energy, the bloc is working on creating more renewable energy outlets as well as raising the bar on energy efficiency.  

For the full report, please click here.


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Photo source: Ray Hennessy for Unsplash