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In April 2019, the first Climate and SDGs Synergy Conference held in Copenhagen, Denmark, emphasized that taking climate and SDG development action simultaneously and in an integrated way is not a theoretical concept, but a practical guideline for all forms of decision making. The success and impact of the conference led to a decision to make this an annual event.

During this period, the COVID-19 pandemic began causing devastating impacts on economic and social systems around the world, creating the urgency for policy makers to pursue synergistic approaches in order to recover better and faster from COVID-19, while at the same time accelerating enhanced climate action and transitioning to sustainable development.

Long before COVID-19 struck, the year 2020 was meant to be a landmark year for climate action and the SDGs. Following the SDG Summit in 2019, the United Nations launched a ‘Decade of Action and Delivery’ to accelerate progress towards the SDGs, while governments prepared to submit updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), enhancing their climate ambitions under the Paris Agreement.

Addressing the urgency for action, UN DESA, UNFCCC and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) co-convened a series of three webinars and launched an e-learning course on the theme of ‘Harnessing Climate and SDGs Synergies’. These events pointed to a variety of options for synergistic policy interventions in different sectors using an integrated nexus approach.

Building on the outcomes of the first Climate and SDGs Synergy Conference in 2019 and the virtual consultations in 2020/2021, the third global conference on synergies provides a unique opportunity to take stock of practical measures that are being implemented to advance climate and SDG synergies in regional, national and subnational efforts, including through COVID recovery plans and the NDCs.

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