27 August 2020
Rio Conventions Shift All In-Person Meetings to 2021
Photo by IISD/ENB | Sean Wu
story highlights

On 24 August 2020, the only physical meetings still scheduled for 2020 - SBSTTA 24 and SBI 3 - were moved to the first quarter of 2021, "conditions allowing".

On 12 August 2020, the Secretariat for the UNCCD announced that CRIC 19 would take place in February 2021.

In June, the UN Climate Change meetings of the Subsidiary Bodies (SB52) were postponed until 2021.

All three Rio Conventions have announced that subsidiary body meetings previously scheduled to take place in 2020 will now take place in 2021. The Secretariats of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) made the changes to account for ongoing restrictions on physical meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic and to ensure the completion of work leading to each milestone event.

CBD Shifts SBSTTA and SBI to 2021

On 24 August 2020, the CBD Secretariat announced that it “is now clear that it will not be possible to convene any large physical intergovernmental meeting this year,” due to the global pandemic. Following consultations with the Bureaux of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the CBD and its Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA), as well as the Chair of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI), meetings of SBSTTA 24 and SBI 3 – the dates for which had been shifted several times – are being moved to the first quarter of 2021, “conditions allowing.” The Chairs, Bureaux, and Secretariat will consider options for virtual discussions in November. 

In preparation for the SBSTTA and SBI meetings, the CBD Secretariat will convene virtual sessions in September 2020. The launch of the 5th Global Biodiversity Outlook report (GBO-5) will also take place in September.

New dates for the third meeting of the Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework have not yet been announced. 

The Secretariat also announced that the President of the CBD COP, Yasmine Fouad, Minister of Environment of Egypt, has requested an extraordinary meeting of the COP and the meetings of the Parties to the Cartagena and Nagoya Protocols (COP-MOPs) at the end of 2020. The purpose of the ExCOP would be to consider and approve an interim budget for the Secretariat’s operations in 2021. The Parties are expected to consider the draft budget decision either through a silence/written procedure or a virtual meeting that would take place within the period from 16-19 November 2020. 

CBD COP 15 was originally scheduled to take place in October 2020. Following an announcement on 15 July 2020, the meeting is now expected to take place from 17-30 May 2021, in Kunming, China.

UNFCCC Considering Additional Event in 2021

On 28 May 2020, the UNFCCC COP Bureau decided that the 26th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 26), which was originally scheduled to take place from 9-19 November 2020, in Glasgow, UK, will take place from 1-12 November 2021, still in Glasgow.

Subsequently, at the end of June 2020, the COP Bureau decided to postpone the meetings of the UNFCCC Subsidiary Bodies (SB52) until 2021, at a date to be decided. During the time frame during which the SB52 meetings were originally scheduled, the Secretariat organized a series of virtual events under the banner, ‘June Momentum on Climate Change.’ 

In related news, during a UNFCCC COP Bureau meeting on 25 August 2020, the Bureau decided that “there could be an additional third session in 2021 if needed to catch up on work,” in order to be prepared for COP 26 in November 2021, according to a report from the Least Developed Countries (LDC) Group on Climate Change.

UNCCD Review of Implementation Set for February 2021

On 12 August 2020, the Secretariat for the UNCCD announced that the 19th meeting of the Committee for the Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC 19), which was expected to take place at the end of 2020, will now take place from 10-12 February 2021, in Bonn, Germany. 

CRIC 19 will help prepare for UNCCD COP 15, which is expected to take place in the final quarter of 2021.

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