Crafting a new relationship between people and planet in 2021


“Both climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic are crises that can only be addressed by everyone together – as part of a transition to an inclusive and sustainable future,” says United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres in his new year message for 2021.

He goes on to say that that the central ambition of the United Nations for 2021 is to build a global coalition for carbon neutrality – net zero emissions – by 2050.

Post COVID-19 recovery packages, if deployed wisely, can help change course in 2021 and put the world on a more sustainable path.

Every government, city, business and individual can play a part in achieving this vision, and the UN Environment Programme stands ready to carry out is work to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

In addition to releasing a number of highly anticipated reports and publications touching on issues related to climate, biodiversity and pollution, and the carrying out of related projects, UNEP hosts the secretariats of many critical multilateral environmental agreements and research bodies, which will continue their critical efforts to bring together nations and the environmental community to tackle the greatest challenges of our time.

Key events scheduled for 2021

Important note: As in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s possible dates in 2021 might be subject to change. Follow this site and UNEP’s social media platforms all year for updates. The list below is not meant to be exhaustive.

25-26 January: Climate Adaptation Summit

22-24 February: The first part of the fifth United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) will be held online in view of COVID-19 restrictions. UNEA is the world’s highest environmental decision-making body and the summit is expected to renew calls to protect and restore the natural world.

3 March: World Wildlife Day

22 May: International day for Biological Diversity

May: UN Convention on Biodiversity (COP 15)

5 June: World Environment Day

17 June: World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

5-9 July: Fifth Meeting of the International Conference on Chemicals Management

8 June: World Oceans Day

July: UN Ocean Conference

19-30 July: Triple COPs: meetings of the Conferences of Parties to the Basel, Rotterdam & Stockholm Conventions under the Theme of “Global Agreements for a Healthy Planet – Sound Management of Chemicals and Waste.”

7 September: International Day of Clean Air for blue skies

September: 76th Session of the UN General Assembly

3-11 September: World Conservation Congress hosted by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

29 September: International Day of Awareness on Food Loss and Waste Reduction

September/October: The Food Systems Summit

October: Second UN Global Sustainable Transport Conference

1-12 November: United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26)

1-5 November: Minamata Convention COP4

6 November: International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict

7-10 December:  Barcelona Convention COP 22

Also kicking off are two important decades: The United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration and the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

In addition, 2021 is the International Year of Fruits & Vegetables, intended to raise awareness on the important role of fruits and vegetables in human nutrition, food security and health, as well as in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and achieving UN Sustainable Development Goals.

UN Environment


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