IIED and the ‘super year’

2021 was a crucial year for dealing with the climate emergency, unprecedented biodiversity loss, rising inequalities and the COVID-19 pandemic – and the work continues into 2022. This page sets out how IIED is working with partners at key opportunities to highlight and address these interconnected crises.

Article, 02 February 2021
UN climate change conference (COP26)
A series of pages related to IIED's activities at the 2021 UNFCCC climate change summit in Glasgow

The world is dealing with multiple crises – the climate crisis, unprecedented biodiversity loss, rising inequalities and the COVID-19 pandemic.

These challenges disproportionately impact vulnerable countries, groups and individuals by exacerbating pre-existing dynamics of marginalisation and exclusion.

The decisions taken in 2021 and 2022 by leaders will guide international and national efforts over the coming decade for climate, nature and people.

Strong and urgent action is needed to address these interconnected crises, including to influence major decision-making moments this year and leverage pandemic recovery packages, to drive cohesive climate, nature and development outcomes. 

Why was 2021 so important? 

2021 presented major opportunities to increase the focus on addressing climate, nature and development priorities together. Also known as the ‘super year’, 2021 hosted major meetings including negotiations for both the climate change and the first part of the biodiversity conventions amid a range of major international and regional events.

Building on our research, and working closely with partners, IIED continued to drive cohesive action on climate, nature and development to build a fairer and more sustainable world.

To achieve this, we hosted events, undertook research, published reports and engaged closely with partners, including government, business, non-government organisations and civil society. This page outlines some of the key events and milestones throughout 2021 and 2022 that we will strategically align to.

Read our blog series raising awareness and action on the interlinkages between climate, nature and people throughout recent key global milestones.

And listen to our Make Change Happen podcast for informal insights into issues relevant to the 'super year', including episodes on the benefits of recognising and applying Indigenous knowledge to biodiversity conservation, debt management for climate and nature initiatives and exploring locally led action. 

Key events

Major events in 2021.

IIED followed these events closely, including events and negotiations related to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity, the United Nations Environment Assembly, the G7 Summit, the G20 Summit, the United Nations General Assembly and many more conferences and workshops.

Some of the key events IIED hosted, co-hosted or were directly engaged in are outlined below.

Gobeshona Global Conference 1

Date: 18-24 January 2021
This online conference organised by the International Centre for Climate Change and Development (ICCCAD) brought together a distinguished and multidisciplinary group of scholars, policymakers, researchers and practitioners on the theme of locally-led adaptation.

Climate Adaptation Summit

Date: 18-24 January 2021 
Thisonline summit launched a comprehensive adaptation action agenda that set out clear commitments to deliver concrete new endeavours and partnerships to make our world more resilient to the effects of climate change. 

IIED was among 40 (now over 50) governments, leading global institutions and local and international NGOs that endorsed eight principles for locally-led adaptation to help ensure local communities are empowered to lead sustainable and effective adaptation at the local level.

LDC 2020 reflection event 

Date: 28 January 2021
Hosted by IIED, this IIED Debates online event heard perspectives and reflections on 2020 and priorities for 2021 with climate leaders from the least developed countries (LDCs).

Climate adaptation and resilience vision: what will success look like at COP26? 

Date: 11 February 2021
Speakers from government, business and civil society made their pitch for what strong adaptation ambition at COP26 needs to look like, what they are doing about it, and how to judge what success looks like for us all, in this ICCCAD and IIED-organised online event. The highlights from the discussions, written by a young person from an LDC, were captured in a blog.

Climate and Development Ministerial

Date: 30 March 2021
The UK as incoming COP26 President convened more than 50 ministers and heads of organisations to discuss the challenges and priorities for implementing the Paris Agreement and Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development in the countries most vulnerable to climate change. IIED worked in partnership with E3G, the Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre and the World Resources Institute to support participation of climate vulnerable countries in this process and beyond.

15th International Conference on Community-based Adaptation to Climate Change

Date: 14-18 June 2021 
This annual conference took place online and enabled practitioners, governments and donors to share the latest development best practice and understand grassroots perspectives on adaptation. It was organised by ICCCAD, BRAC, Practical Action, GRP, CARE and IIED.

G7 Summit

Date: 11-13 June 2021
Seven of the world’s leading democracies came together in Carbis Bay, UK to reach new agreements to help the world fight, and then build back better from coronavirus and create a greener, more prosperous future. IIED released a press statement and video ahead of the event.

London Climate Action Week

Date: 26 June – 4 July 2021
This online annual event brought together a world-leading array of climate professionals and communities. IIED hosted and spoke at events within the programme to influence and shape global climate action. 

IUCN World Conservation Congress

France and online
Date: 3-10 September 2021
TheIUCN World Conservation Congress brought together the global nature conservation community, including top international experts in conservation science, policy and practice. IIED was engaged throughout the congress and hosted and contributed to events and showcased research. 

UN General Assembly 

New York and online Dates: 14-30 September 2021
UN General Assembly, as the main policymaking body of the UN, met for in-person and online discussions that covered the full range of topics covered by the UN. IIED supported events and showcased new research in the lead up to and at the UN General Assembly, and with E3G supported the launch of the Champions Group on Adaptation Finance.


Part 1: 11-14 October 2021 (online) 
Part 2: 5-17 December 2022 (Montreal, Canada hosted by China)
The delayed 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity was one of the major events of the year and opened in 2021 to commence major international discussions on biodiversity to agree to a new ten-year Global Biodiversity Framework.

IIED is closely tracking part 2 in 2022 and highlighting the importance of locally-led action in delivering the framework.


Glasgow, Scotland/online
: 1-12 November 2021 
The delayed 26th Conference of the Parties (COP26) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) was one of the pivotal events of 2021, with a focus on countries increasing the ambition of their commitments to tackle the climate emergency.

IIED researchers and partners presented at a host of events throughout the two-week gathering, focusing on issues such as getting climate finance to the local level and supporting negotiators from the least developed countries.

Development and Climate (D&C) Days at COP26

: 6-7 November 2021
This event in COP26 brought together thinking from various sectors – food and agriculture, finance, cities, infrastructure, biodiversity, disaster risk reduction – that are seeking coherence and cross-cutting collaboration to ensure climate resilience for all.

COP summary event

: 24 November 2021
This online event reflected on the outcomes of COP26 and how they responded to the priorities of the 46 least developed countries.

Building connections: bridging the link between COP15 and COP27

Date: TBC
This online IIED event will bring together high-level experts to reflect on the links between COP15 and COP26, and what key messages are important for both to reinforce the need for collaborative action on nature, climate change and development.