Publié: 29 Oct 2020

Given the continued uncertainties arising from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including those related to restrictions on travel and the convening of large physical gatherings, major environmental negotiations initially scheduled to take place this year have been postponed.

Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions (BRS MEAs)

Basel Convention OEWG

On 9 July 2020, the Bureau of the OEWG of the Basel Convention agreed to hold the OEWG-12 according to two components consisting of an online segment and a face to face segment.

Online segment: The online segment consisted of two online sessions held over two days, on Tuesday, 1 September 2020 and on Thursday, 3 September 2020.

Face to face segment: An up to 4-day face to face meeting of the OEWG-12 will be held in March 2021, in Nairobi, Kenya, back to back with fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA-5), subject to the availability of resources and a positive development of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) situation. Support for the participation of developing countries and countries with economies in transition will be provided for one participant per eligible Party, as per usual practice for OEWG meetings and subject to the availability of resources.

Further information on the working arrangements of both segments as agreed by the Bureau of the OEWG are contained here.

BRS MEAs Notification | July 2020
Impact of COVID-19 on BRS meetings | 1 October 2020


The fifteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention (BC COP-15), the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention (RC COP-10) and the tenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention (SC COP-10) will be held back to back from 19 July to 30 July 2021, in Geneva. The meetings will include joint sessions covering matters of relevance to at least two conventions and separate sessions of the meetings of the each of the three COPs, and will feature a high-level segment. The theme of the meetings and the high-level segment will be “Global Agreements for a Healthy Planet: Sound management of chemicals and waste“.

BRS MEAs web note

Convention on Biodiversity Diversity (CBD)


As approved by the Bureau, the fifteenth meeting of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP-15), originally scheduled for October 2020, will now be held on 17-30 May 2021, in Kunming, China.

Subsidiary bodies

Dates and venue have also been announced for the meetings of the Convention’s two subsidiary bodies. Both meetings will convene in Quebec City, Canada.

  • The twenty-fourth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA-24) will be held 2-7 November 2020, and
  • the third meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI-3) takes place 9-14 November 2020.

CBD Press Release | 15 July 2020

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

Animal and Plants Committee

The CITES Standing Committee has advised the CITES Secretariat that the 31st Meeting of the CITES Animals Committee (AC31) and the 25th meeting of the Plants Committee (PC25) should be postponed until 2021.

Standing Committee

The 73rd meeting of the CITES Standing Committee was scheduled to take place from 5 to 9 October, in Geneva, but the meeting will not be taking place on those dates. The uncertainty caused by the pandemic has led the CITES Secretariat and the Members of the Standing Committee to discuss the circumstances in which the meeting should be held.

In the coming weeks, the Standing Committee Chair will begin consultations with members and the Secretariat to review the workplan given to the Committee by the eighteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP18), in August 2019.

CITES News Release | 16 July 2020

Minamata Convention on Mercury

Fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP4)

The Government of Indonesia will host the fourth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention at the Nusa Dua Convention Centre, Bali, from 1 to 5 November 2021.

The intersessional work towards COP4 has been slightly adapted in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. An overview of the calendar of the meetings planned is available here.

Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM)


The German government, in consultation with the ICCM5 President and IP Co-Chairs, has announced the necessity of postponing the Fifth International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5) from 5 to 9 October 2020 to 5-9 July 2021.

SAICM update message | 9 April 2020

Intersessional Process

The ICCM5 Bureau and the co-chairs of the Intersessional Process (IP) have proposed that the intersessional process continues its work on some key issues through a variety of virtual means, including the following online Technical Briefings.

United Nations Biodiversity Summit

The United Nations Summit on Biodiversity will be convened by the President of the General Assembly on 30 September 2020, at the level of Heads of State and Government under the theme of “Urgent action on biodiversity for sustainable development.”

Plenary: Urgent Action on Biodiversity for Sustainable Development

The opening segment and the plenary session will highlight the connections between biodiversity, societies and economies.

Leaders’ Dialogue 1: Addressing biodiversity loss and mainstreaming biodiversity for sustainable development

This session will highlight the opportunities and priorities for action to tackle the causes of biodiversity loss and for integrating action on biodiversity for sustainable development into key sectors.

Leaders’ Dialogue 2: Harnessing science, technology and innovation, capacity-building, access and benefit-sharing, financing and partnerships for biodiversity

This session aims to highlight ways and means to support accelerated biodiversity action, including through harnessing science, technology and innovation, strengthening capacity-building, and enhancing access and benefit-sharing, financing and partnerships for biodiversity

Official website

United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)

In line with its COVID-19 response, the UNFCCC secretariat is currently not convening any physical meetings. But the work in 2020 remains critical for making progress on climate change and, as the Executive Secretary has outlined, is not in any form on hold.


The Bureau of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, with the UK and its Italian partners, agreed new dates for the COP26 UN climate conference, which will now take place between 1 and 12 November 2021 in Glasgow.

UNFCCC COP26 Presidency Press release | 28 May 2020

Subsidiary bodies

The Fifty-second session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SB 52 conference), scheduled to take place in October 2020, has been postponed to 2021. The new dates are to be confirmed.

UNFCCC Press Release | 23 June 2020

United Nations Ocean Conference

The UN Ocean Conference scheduled to take place from 2 to 6 June in Lisbon, Portugal, has been postponed per decision 74/548 adopted by the General Assembly on 13 April 2020. Co-hosts of the Conference Kenya and Portugal in consultation with the General Assembly will decide on future dates for the Conference, including timelines for the preparatory process.

Official website

United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea

In light of the developments in relation to the impacts of COVID-19, the United Nations Open-ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea, on the topic of “Sea-level rise and its impacts”, scheduled for 22 to 26 June 2020, has been postponed until 2021. Specific dates to be determined by the General Assembly.

Official website

IUCN Congress

In view of the sanitary situation associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, France and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) have decided to postpone the IUCN World Conservation Congress, which was to be held in January 2021 in Marseille. New dates for the event will be announced in due course.

IUCN Q&A on the Congress | regulary updated

Climate Ambition Summit

As the UNFCCC COP6 has been postponed, UN Secretary-General and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom have announced that they will co-host a virtual “landmark global event” on 12 December 2020. The event will celebrate the fifth anniversary of the 2015 Paris Agreement and will allow to rally momentum and call for a greater climate action and ambition. National governments will be invited to present more ambitious climate plans, as well as COVID recovery plans, to achieve the Paris Agreement.

UN chief and UK premier announce December climate summit | 24 September 2020
Looking ahead to the Climate Ambition Summit 2020 | 29 October 2020

Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference

Taking into account the developments related to the pandemics, the opinion of the Host country (the Republic of Cyprus), the Calendar of events and holidays in 2022, and additional information provided by partner organizations’ representatives the UNECE Committee on Environmental Policy (CEP) Bureau agreed to recommend to the Committee on Environmental Policy to reschedule the Ninth Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference for 5-7 October 2022. The CEP is expected to adopt this decision at its twenty-sixth session (9-10 November 2020).