European Development Days 2021: driving the global debate on green action ahead of Kunming and Glasgow Summits

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This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.

The 14th European Development Days (EDD), a leading global forum on international partnerships and cooperation, will begin tomorrow to reflect on the road to the UN Biodiversity Conference (CBD) COP15 in Kunming in October and COP26 in Glasgow in November 2021. More than 1,000 organisations from over 160 countries will debate two main topics on 15 and 16 June: A green economy for people and nature, and protecting biodiversity and people. This year’s edition will place a special emphasis on the views of young leaders and include special events on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic for the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals. A virtual EDD Global Village will present innovative projects and ground-breaking reports on sustainable development solutions from more than 150 organisations from all around the world.

Ahead of the event, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has shaken the world. Yet the climate and environment cannot wait longer. We need to build forward greener now. It’s time for a new global biodiversity ambition. Because we are all affected by the negative consequences, we all have a vested interest in contributing to the health of the planet. This year’s European Development Days provide a great opportunity to share experiences, innovative solutions and to foster partnerships.”

Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, emphasised: “The European Development Days are a key moment in the international cooperation agenda. More than 8,400 registered participants will drive the global debate on the imperative of a greener and fairer planet. I am delighted that young people will be at the heart of every major discussion shaping their futures through this unique platform for global debate.”

High-level attendees

The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen will open the European Development Days. Other high-level speakers and participants include Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships; and Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries; as well as Amina Mohammed, United Nations Deputy Secretary-General; Henrietta Fore, UNICEF Executive Director; HRH Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands, President of Fauna and Flora International; Maimunah Mohd Sharif, UN-Habitat Executive Director; Ben Affleck, Co-Founder and Chair of the Eastern Congo Initiative; Idris Elba, Goodwill Ambassador for the International Fund for Agricultural Development. Christian Samper, President and CEO of Wildlife Conservation Society; His Excellency Jakaya Kikwete, Former President of Tanzania and Emmanuel de Merode, Director of the Virunga National Park.

Young leaders

17 inspiring young people, aged between 21 and 26, from around the world will play a central role during the European Development Days. These young leaders were selected from 202 applicants from 79 countries for their exceptional skills, expertise and active contributions to find solutions to climate change issues.


The event will provide a decisive moment for analysis and reflection on the road to the CBD COP15 in Kunming in October and COP26 in Glasgow in November. The European Green Deal is an action plan to boost the efficient use of resources by moving to a clean, circular economy, restoring biodiversity and cutting pollution. It will require action by all sectors of the economy, including investing in environmentally friendly technologies, rolling out cleaner, cheaper and healthier forms of private and public transport or decarbonising the energy sector. In the framework of the NDICI-Global Europe, the EU external action budget set at €79.5 billion for the period 2021-2027, the EU has a spending target of 30% to step up efforts on climate change. This will provide significant financial support and technical assistance to partner countries to help those that are most affected by climate change and those which are turning to a green economy.

How to follow

The event will be digital, free and accessible to everyone registered. Specific media facilities and opportunities are offered to the international press such as two virtual press conference rooms and a regularly updated media corner (more information here).

Those wishing to participate or follow each session can register at

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