Nature Conferences to Watch in 2024

Biodiversity, Policy
  • In mid-February, the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP14) will take place in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. The purpose is to agree strategies for the conservation of migratory species and their habitats. This meeting will be the first global biodiversity gathering since the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) in 2022 and will address a wide range of important conservation priorities and new initiatives, including many that will support the implementation of the GBF.
  • In late February, UNEP will host the sixth meeting of the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-6) on the theme: ‘Effective, inclusive and sustainable multilateral actions to tackle climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution’. Key issues of discussion will be: GBF, water, minerals & metals, climate-altering technologies and aligning the financial system for sustainability.
  • The Global Plastics Treaty will continue its slow progress. In late April, the fourth meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC 4) will start in Ottawa, Canada, followed by INC 5, in Busan, South Korea, in late November. Presently, a final agreement by mid-2025 is looking optimistic.
  • International financial institutions may end up influencing biodiversity policy. The International Monetary Fund and World Bank, which will have its spring meeting in mid-April and annual meeting in late October, may promote the Bridgetown Initiative and encourage its status into a more a robust framework.
  • Furthermore, the G7, will hold its 50th meeting in mid-June, is now under Italian leadership, and has indicated the climate-energy nexus and food security as two of its themes. Meanwhile the G20 Leaders’ Summit, will meet in Brazil for the first time in mid-November, and is expected to focus on the environment and lay the ground for UNFCCC COP30.
  • Elections are likely to significantly impact the governance and protection of nature going forward. In early June, there are European elections, which result will determine the pace of environmental reform in the European Commission and Parliament. In the US, a Trump Presidential victory in early November, would likely have a similar effect. Environmental issues may arise following other elections in countries such as India, Indonesia, Mexico, some small island states (Palau, Solomon Islands) and the UK.
  • The future of deep-sea mining in international waters could be decided in July 2024 at the meeting of the International Seabed Authority Assembly in Kingston, Jamaica, and possibly in Q3 2024 at the meeting of the ISA Council. We expect that no regulations to be adopted this year.
  • The UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), COP16, will meet in Colombia in October to discuss the framework’s ongoing implementation and examine ways to enhance it.  Countries are revising and updating their National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) and developing national targets to align with the Global Biodiversity Framework’s targets. These are due for publication by UNCBD COP16. The Task Force for Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD) will be a central player for corporates. So far, 320 organisations have signaled their intention to adopt the TNFD Recommendations and publish TNFD-aligned disclosures as part of their annual corporate reporting starting for the 2023 financial year.
  • The UN Framework Convention on Climate change (UNFCCC), COP29, will be held in Azerbaijan in November 2024. The agenda is still being decided but it will be interesting to observe whether food systems and nature will play as a prominent role as at COP28. Throughout the year, we look for Brazil to lay out a strong vision for its COP presidency in 2025. Deforestation-related issues are expected to be prominent.
  • The UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), COP16, convenes in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in December. To date, this has been the least acknowledged of the UN COPs, but it is no less important. It will explore ways to safeguard nature by achieving land degradation neutrality (LDN). It’s a good opportunity for highlighting the need to address issues in a holistic manner.
  • On the international stage, countries agreed to the High Seas Treaty in June 2023, which sets out a comprehensive framework for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity beyond national jurisdictions. This year, the focus will be sovereign states’ ratification – a minimum of 60 are required – allowing the treaty to come into force by mid-2025.

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