Building on last month’s busy agenda, which included the fourth session of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-4), the third One Planet Summit and the second substantive session of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group working towards a Global Pact for the Environment, April brings renewed focus to: climate change and linkages between the Paris Agreement and 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; biodiversity, including conservation and sustainable use of areas beyond national jurisdiction; sound management of chemicals and waste, and regional sustainable development and finance for sustainable development, among other issues.

Climate change: The month began with the First Global Conference on Synergies between the 2030 Agenda and Paris Agreement, convened by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and the UNFCCC in Copenhagen, Denmark, from 1-3 April. The meeting followed a high-level discussion in New York on “climate and sustainable development for all,” which also elicited consideration of the nexus of climate action and the SDGs and gave governments and experts an opportunity to share their messages on the linkages. The Copenhagen event was the first global multi-stakeholder conference on synergies between the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement, and served as an Expert Group Meeting (EGM) on SDG 13 (climate action) – an official part of preparations for the in-depth review of SDG 13 during the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF) in 2019. NAP Expo 2019 and Korea Global Adaptation Week will continue to build momentum for climate action throughout the second week of April.

Biodiversity: The second session of the Intergovernmental Conference (IGC) on an international legally binding instrument under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) kicked off on 25 March and has continued into the first week of April. Discussions focus on, inter alia: marine genetic resources, including questions on benefit-sharing; measures such as environmental impact assessments (EIAs) and area-based management tools, including marine protected areas (MPAs); as well as institutional arrangements for a new treaty for the high seas.

At the end of April, the seventh session of the Plenary of the Intergovernmental Platform for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES-7) will convene in Paris, France. Among other outcomes, the meeting is expected to finalize and launch the Global Assessment of Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services – the first global synthesis of the state of nature, ecosystems and nature’s contributions to people since the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment released in 2005.

Chemicals: The third meeting of the Open-ended Working Group (OEWG3) of the International Conference on Chemicals Management (ICCM) for the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM) is taking place from 2-4 April. The Working Group is expected to, inter alia: assess progress towards the global goal of achieving, by 2020, the use and production of chemicals in ways that lead to the minimization of significant adverse effects on human health and the environment; and discuss the sound management of chemicals and waste beyond 2020, when the current mandate of the Strategic Approach is due to expire.

The Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm (BRS) Conventions Secretariat will open the chemicals “triple-COPs” at the end of the month. The theme of the back-to-back meetings is ‘Clean Planet, Healthy People: Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste,’ and key issues to be addressed include: the listing of new chemicals under the Rotterdam and Stockholm Conventions; adoption of technical guidelines under the Basel Convention; and financial and technical support for implementation of all three Conventions.

Regional sustainable development and financing for development: Regional fora for sustainable development convening throughout the month will focus on ‘Empowering People and Ensuring Inclusiveness and Equality,’ which is also the theme of the 2019 HLPF. The regional fora will focus on implementation of SDGs 4 (quality education), 8 (decent work and economic growth), 10 (reduced inequalities), 13 (climate action) and 16 (peace, justice and strong institutions) – the Goals to undergo in-depth review by HLPF in July, in addition to SDG 17 (partnerships for the Goals). These Goals are also under discussion in a series of expert group meetings being held around the world, with SDGs 8, 10 and 17 in focus in April (in addition to the EGM on SDG 13 held in Copenhagen, highlighted above).

On the heels of the first regional forum, for UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) member States in March, the Arab Forum for Sustainable Development 2019 will be held from 9-11 April. It is followed by the Africa Regional Forum on Sustainable Development 2019 from 16-18 April and the Forum of the Countries of Latin America and the Caribbean on Sustainable Development 2019 from 22-26 April.

In mid-April, the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will hold their annual Spring Meetings in Washington, DC, US, to discuss progress of work on issues of relevance to the global economy, international development, and the world’s financial markets. These will be immediately followed by the UN Economic and Social Council’s (ECOSOC) Financing for Development (FfD) Forum 2019 in New York. The zero draft of the Forum’s outcome document was released in March and governments have begun their detailed consultations on the text.

At the SDG Knowledge Hub we will be following these and other major meetings taking place in April, including:

Elena Kosolapova and Faye Leone