Published: 16 Sep 2021

Given the continued uncertainties arising from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including those related to restrictions on travel and large physical gatherings, major environmental negotiations initially scheduled to take place in 2020-2021 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 an physical session of UNEA-5 (UNEA-5.2) on 28 February – 2 March 2022.

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 virtual sessions held over two days, 1 September 2020 and 3 September 2020. The face-to-face segment of OEWG-12, previously scheduled for 1-4 March 2021, has been postponed to 2022.

BRS MEAs Notification


The 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Basel Convention (BC COP-15), the 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention (RC COP-10) and the 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Stockholm Convention (SC COP-10) was held back-to-back in July 2021 in Geneva.  The Bureaux met on 27-29 January 2021 and on 26 February 2021 to discuss the organization of the 2021 meetings of the COPs.

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 physical 2021 meetings of the COPs as originally planned on 19-30 July 2021 in Geneva. They instead be held the meetings in two segments: online on 26-30 July 2021 and face-to-face held over two weeks in 6-17 June 2022.

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 Press Release | 30 July 2021

Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)

Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework

CBD hosted a press conference on 12 July to introduce the first draft of the post-2020 biodiversity framework.

3rd OEWG on the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework

The 3rd Meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (WG2020-3) will be held virtually on  23 August – 3 September 2021. The meeting is being convened virtually as an exceptional measure due to the conditions imposed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and shall not constitute a precedent for the organization of future meetings under the Convention.

CBD Notification | 4 June 2021

Pre-COP Meeting

“Pre-COP” meeting hosted by the President of Colombia in the Colombian Amazon with fellow members of the High Ambition Group for Nature and signatories of the Leaders’ Pledge for Nature, will take place on 30 August 2021.

WG2020 and Subsidiary Bodies

The following meetings will tentatively take place in Geneva, in January 2021:

  • Open-Ended Working Group (WG2020) on the Post-202o Global Framework Agreement 
  • CBD Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 24)
  • CBD Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI 3)


The 15th Meeting of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP-15), originally scheduled for October 2020, will now take place in two parts. The first part of the meetings will take place virtually from 11 to 15 October 2021, with the second part reconvening in face-to-face meetings in Kunming, China from 25 April to 8 May 2022.

CBD Update| 18 August 2021
CBD COP15 Website

Submission of nomination letters and/or credentials for COP-15 and the concurrent meetings
of the Parties to the Cartagena and Nagoya Protocols

Reference is made to notification 2020-058 with regard to the convening of the 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, the 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, and the 4th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing (the Meetings), which will be held concurrently, with the first part on 11-15 October 2021 (virtually) and the second part to reconvene in a face-to-face meeting in Kunming, China from 25 April to 8 May 2022.

As indicated in the notification, for the first part of the Meetings, in order to expedite the pre-registration of participants and in case of any delay in obtaining and submitting credentials by representatives of Parties, Governments could submit the designation of their representatives to attend the Meetings through an official letter of nomination addressed to the Executive Secretary, providing the names and contact details of their delegation, as well as the title of the meeting or meetings they wish to attend. The letter should be submitted by e-mail to: or by fax at +1 514-288-6588, as soon as possible and preferably by 1 October 2021.

Representatives of Parties are also reminded to submit credentials in accordance with rule 18 of the rules of procedure. Credentials must be submitted to the Secretariat no later than 24 hours after the opening of the Meetings, i.e. 11 October 2021, to confirm that the delegates have been duly appointed, authorized and empowered to represent their country at the Meetings. Credentials must be signed by the Head of State or Government or by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, except in the case of regional economic integration organizations, in which case it should be signed by the competent authority of that organization. All valid credentials received by the Secretariat for the first part of the Meetings next month will be maintained and used for the purpose of the second part of the Meetings, unless withdrawn or a change of nominees is made by the Parties concerned.  Sample formats of appropriate credentials are available here or on the Meetings webpage.

Parties are urged to expedite the submission of the credentials of their representatives by sending, as soon as possible and prior to the opening of the Meetings, scanned copies by e-mail. The original of the same should be sent by courier/post to the Secretariat office in Montreal.

The provisional agendas for the Meetings, as approved by the Bureau of the Conference of the
Parties, are accessible at:


CBD Update: 15 September 2021

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) took place virtually on 31 May – 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 on 5-7 May 2021.

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

International Union for Conservation of Nature (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 on 3-11 September 2021 in Marseille.

IUCN Q&A on the Congress

Minamata Convention on Mercury

Fourth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Minamata Convention on Mercury (COP-4)

The Government of Indonesia will host the 4th 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: online on 1-5 November 2021 and 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 took take place virtually on 22-25 June 2021. The resumed session of its 59th Meeting should take place between 23 May and 27 May 2022, with the possibility of extending the session for another two days if required once the provisional agenda has been finalized.

Ramsar Standing Committee

Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM)


The Fifth International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM5), originally scheduled on 5-9 October 2020, was first postponed to July 2021. On 27 January 2021, the Bureau decided to further 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 online Technical Briefings.

UN Convention on Climate Change

All UNFCCC sessions scheduled for 2020 were postponed.


The Bureau of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, with its UK and Italian partners, agreed new dates for the COP-26 UN Climate Conference, which will now take place on 1-12 November 2021 in Glasgow.

UNFCCC COP26 Presidency Press release | 28 May 2020

Subsidiary Bodies

The 52nd 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 on 31 May – 17 June 2021.

UNFCCC News Release | 20 April 2021

UN Convention to Combat Desertification

The 15th Session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD COP-15) is postponed and will be rescheduled between May and October 2022. The venue will 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 held in Rome, Italy, on 19-21 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

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 will not 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 summer 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.

UN Ocean Conference Website

UN Open-Ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea

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 in June 2020, was rescheduled to 14-18 June 2021.

UN Open-Ended Informal Consultative Process on Oceans and the Law of the Sea Website

Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference

The host country, Republic of Cyprus, and partner organizations and representatives to the UNECE Committee on Environmental Policy (CEP) Bureau agreed to recommend to the Committee on Environmental Policy to reschedule the 9th Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference on 5-7 October 2022.

WTO Ministerial Conference

WTO members have agreed that the organization’s 12th Ministerial Conference (MC12), originally scheduled for June 2020, will take place on 30 November – 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.


The General Assembly, acting without a vote, adopted a draft resolution on 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 2-3 June 2022 to mark the 50th 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