Published: 18 Jun 2021

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 in 2020 or 2021 have been postponed.

UN Environment Assembly (UNEA)

On 9 October 2020, the Bureau of the UN Environmental Assembly agreed that the Fifth Session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-5) will take place in two-parts. The first session – UNEA-5.1 – was conducted virtually on 22-23 February 2021. Substantive matters that require in-depth negotiations will be deferred to a resumed in-person session of UNEA-5, from 28 February to 2 March 2022 – UNEA-5.2.

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. The online segment consisted of two online sessions held over two days, on Tuesday, 1 September 2020 and on Thursday, 3 September 2020. The face-to-face segment of OEWG-12, previously scheduled for 1 to 4 March 2021, has been postponed to 2022 due to the COVID-19 situation.

BRS MEAs Notification


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) were scheduled to be held back to back from in July 2021, in Geneva.  The bureaux met from 27 to 29 January 2021 and on 26 February 2021 to discuss the organization of the 2021 meetings of the conferences of the Parties, considering the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on the meetings.

Under the current COVID-19 pandemic situation, the bureaux came to the conclusion that it was not possible to proceed with the organization of the 2021 meetings of the conferences of the Parties as originally planned as face to face meetings from 19 to 30 July 2021 in Geneva, and agreed that the meetings would be held in two segments, an online segment held from 26 to 30 July 2021, and a face-to-face segment held over two weeks in 2022 (tentatively in June 2022, in Geneva).

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)

Subsidiary Bodies

The formal meetings of the twenty-fourth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 24) and the third meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI 3), originally scheduled for May 2020 were held virtually during the period of 3 May to 13 June 2021

CBD Notification | 9 April 2021


The second extraordinary meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention and the first extraordinary meetings of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol and the Nagoya Protocol took take place virtually in November 2020.

As approved by the Bureau, the fifteenth meeting of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP-15), originally scheduled for October 2020, has been rescheduled to 11-24 October 2021 in Kunming, China.

CBD Press release | 18 March 2021
CBD COP15 Website

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

Animal and Plants Committee

The 31st meeting of the Animals Committee (AC31) and the 25th meeting of the Plants Committee (PC25), are scheduled to take place virtually from 31 May to 23 June 2021.

CITES notification | 15 March 2021
Intersessional work of the Animals Committee – 2020-2021

Standing Committee

The 73rd meeting of the CITES Standing Committee took place online from 5 to 7 May 2021.

A webpage has been created to provide information on the Intersessional work of the Standing Committee – 2020-2021

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. The IUCN World Conservation Congress 2020 will now take place from 3 to 11 September 2021 in Marseille.

  • The Forum will take place from 4 to 7 September
  • The Exhibition will be held from 4 to 9 September
  • The IUCN Members’ Assembly will meet from 8 to 10 September with a first sitting at the beginning of the Congress.
  • The Nature Generation Areas, or “Espaces Générations Nature”, will be running from 4 to 11 September.

IUCN Q&A on the Congress | regularly updated

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. As the Indonesian Government will not allow large-scale gatherings, including an international conference, until the end of 2021 due to the travel and social distancing restrictions introduced in response to the pandemic, the COP Bureau decided to organize COP-4 in two segments: a first segment to be conducted online within the period of 1 to 5 November 2021 and a second segment to be conducted in-person in the first quarter of 2022 in Bali, Indonesia.

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.

Communication from the Bureau | 30 April 2021

Ramsar Convention

Standing Committee

The 59th meeting of the Standing Committee of the Ramsar Convention will take place virtually, from 22 to 25 June 2021.

Ramsar Standing Committee

Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM)


The Fifth International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5), originally scheduled from 5 to 9 October 2020, was first delayed to July 2021. On 27 January 2021, the Bureau decided to postpone the conference until further notice due to the sanitary conditions. Read the latest Message from ICCM5 President.

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.

UN Convention on Climate Change

All UNFCCC sessions scheduled for 2020 were postponed owing to the COVID-19 pandemic.


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 2021 session of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice and the 2021 session of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation were held virtually from 31 May to 17 June 2021.

UNFCCC News Release | 20 April 2021

UN Convention to Combat Desertification

The fifteenth session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP 15) is postponed and rescheduled between May and October 2022, at a venue to be confirmed in due course.

UNCCD News | 23 April 2021

UN Food Systems Summit

The Pre-Summit gathering for the 2021 UN Food Systems Summit will be in Rome, Italy, from 19 to 21 July 2021.

Under the leadership of UN Secretary-General António Guterres and Prime Minister of Italy Mario Draghi, the Pre-Summit event will bring together the efforts and contributions of a global engagement process to shape ambition to transform food systems. The three-day event will bring together youth, smallholder farmers, indigenous peoples, researchers, private sector, policy leaders and ministers of agriculture, environment, health, and finance among others to deliver the latest evidence-based and scientific approach from around the world, launch a set of new commitments through coalitions of action, and mobilize new financing and partnerships.

The Food Systems Summit will take place in September or October alongside the UN General Assembly in New York.

UN Ocean Conference

In view of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the co-hosts of the Conference, Portugal and Kenya, in consultation with the President of the General Assembly have concluded that the UN Ocean Conference cannot take place in 2021. In his briefing to UN Member States on 21 January 2021, the President of the General Assembly referred to the “need to maintain momentum on the implementation of SDG14”. in this regard he is planning to organize a High-Level event in the Summer of 2021, together with Portugal and Kenya, and with the support of the SG’s Special Envoy for the Ocean. This meeting, likely in hybrid format, will be held to keep momentum towards the 2nd UN Ocean Conference, which will take place in 2022 in Lisbon.

Official website

UN 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”, origingally to be held June 2020, has been rescheduled to 14 to 18 June 2021.

Official website

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 to 7 October 2022.

WTO Ministerial Conference

WTO members have agreed that the organization’s Twelfth Ministerial Conference (MC12), originally scheduled for June 2020, will take place from 30 November to 3 December 2021 in Geneva. The Conference will be chaired by Kazakhstan’s Minister of Trade and Integration, Bakhyt Sultanov, as approved by WTO members in December 2019. More information and updates can be found on the WTO website.

The head of the World Trade Organization plans to host a ministerial meeting on 15 July 2021, with a focus on fisheries subsidies and possibly one or two other topics

Stockholm + 50

The General Assembly, acting without a vote, adopted a draft resolution International Meeting   “Stockholm+50: A healthy planet for the prosperity of all – our responsibility, our opportunity” (A/75/L.88), to convene an international meeting in Stockholm on 2 and 3 June 2022 to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the landmark United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm that gave birth to the United Nations Environment Programme.

UN News Release | 24 May 2021