Make sure your business is ready for COP26

We reveal the key events, legislation and reports you need to prepare for in the lead up to the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference.
28 July 2021
cop26 forward planning
James Dilworth

Senior Researcher, Forward Planning

Thanh Pham

Business Researcher, Forward Planning

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It’s increasingly hard to miss the many conversations playing out in public and private spheres on the topic of climate change and sustainability. And of course, there’s little wonder that that’s the case; in a matter of months the UK plays host to more than 190 world leaders at COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference. Garnering international attention, politicians, legislators, and scientists will be meeting in Glasgow seeking to address the climate change issue.

But this isn’t just a challenge for governments to solve. Increasingly consumers expect the businesses providing them with goods and services to take a stance on climate change, regardless of legislative changes. As the UN puts it, “to achieve our climate goals, every company, every financial firm, every bank, insurer and investor will need to change”.

And change they must. A broader focus on business purpose is increasingly being taken into consideration by consumers and investors alike widely known as Environment, Social and Governance (ESG). With ESG ratings and ESG investing gaining more traction it’s critical for businesses to consider how ESG may affect their future prospects and how they need to adapt now.

For marcoms professionals, it’s critical they guide and advise their businesses to communicate authentically and honestly about the changes they’re making and where they are on their ESG journey, as well as landing their messages in the right places and at the right time to reach target audiences.

Finding this sweet spot is challenging. With the global gaze on not only world leaders but also brands in the lead up to COP26, keeping on the pulse of events, legislative changes and key company announcements in this space is critical. These all have the potential to offer unique opportunities to reinforce and raise the profile of your brand’s ESG stance or to damage your brand should you be unprepared for unflattering conversations which play out under the media spotlight.

Here we’ve compiled some of the most noteworthy dates for your calendar from the Kantar Forward Planning service to inform your communications and marketing plans around COP26 and beyond.


With the release of the UK’s Presidency Programme for COP26 earlier this month, there are numerous upcoming festivals, trade conferences and awards that businesses can attend to further their policies, network with and learn from peers. Various brands and sectors will be under the spotlight so make sure you know how your brand might be involved and any implications on your planned activity.

Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Executive Summit | 12-14 September 2021 | @Opal_Group

A face-to-face gathering of senior level enterprise executives with expertise in the areas of Diversity, Equity, Equality, Inclusion, Belonging, Culture, Talent and Human Resources.

Dive In Festival for Diversity and Inclusion in Insurance | 21-23 September 2021 | @DiveInFest

Dive In Festival for Diversity and Inclusion in Insurance, with events taking place around the world to promote diversity and inclusion in the insurance sector, highlighting the business case for diverse and inclusive workplaces, and providing practical ideas for how to bring about positive change.

Upcoming legislation and reports

In the build up to COP26, there is also upcoming legislation and reports that businesses and consumers alike need to be aware of. The Paris Accords brought with them numerous international, national, and regional factors that impact businesses, even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Increasingly, governments are seeking to strengthen framework and auditing responsibilities. Being aware of consultations like this allow leaders to adapt their communications strategies in light of these shifting landscapes and navigate how and when discourses around these topics are likely to be covered in the media.

ILO publishes its latest World Social Protection Report | 1 September 2021 | @ILO

International Labour Organisation publishes its latest World Social Protection Report – ‘social protection at a crossroads, making a decision turn for a better future’ – which gives a global overview of recent trends in social protections systems, including social protection floors, using a broad range of global, regional and country data. It anaylses the progress made on universal social protection coverage and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Awareness Days

Alongside COP26 and legislative matters, businesses that are aware of awareness days and popular movements can use this to plan campaigns to promote their brands’ credentials in sustainability and similar areas. Events like the Earth Overshoot Day provide a unique opportunity for brands to highlight its sustainable practices, while more niche awareness days shouldn’t be overlooked.

Earth Overshoot Day | 29 July 2021 | @EndOvershoot

Global Footprint Network’s ‘Earth Overshoot Day’ – AKA Ecological Debt Day – signals when humans begin living beyond their ecological means and move into the ecological equivalent of deficit spending, utilising resources at a rate faster than the planet can regenerate in a calendar year. Earth Overshoot Day was 22 Aug 2020, over three weeks later than in 2019 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns.

National Whale and Dolphin Watch 2021 | 24 July – 1 August 2021 |  @SeaWatchersUK

National Whale and Dolphin Watch 2021, inviting the public to take part in dolphin, whale and porpoise surveys around the UK 

International meetings

It is no doubt that COP26 will bring a whole host of new legislation and factors that companies must take note of to continue to drive successful ESG practices and policies. There are other events too in the lead up where brands can engage in discussions around adapting for the future. 

IUCN World Conservation Congress | 3-11 September 2021 | @IUCN

IUCN World Conservation Congress, held every four years to drive worldwide conservation action and inform new global targets to curb the accelerating loss of biodiversity under the U.N. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) (The event, originally scheduled for June 2020, was postponed due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.)

U.N. Pre-COP Milan preparatory meeting | 30 September 2021 | @UNFCCC

Pre-COP Milan, held prior to the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) session in Glasgow. 35-40 countries are in attendance alongside representatives of the UNFCCC Secretariat, the chairs of the Subsidiary Bodies of the Convention and a number of stakeholders

U.N. Climate Change Conference opens in Glasgow | 1 November 2021 | @UNFCCC

Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change session, COP26, opens in Glasgow * Rescheduled from last year due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

As the ESG landscape shifts and new policies are developed, accessing up-to-date information on events, policies and legislation which could impact your business or brand message are vital. Learn more about Kantar Forward Planning and access over 325 items (currently listed between August and the end of 2021) relating to climate change and ESG to help shape and inform your communications strategy.

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