Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) advanced a global plan at the fourth Open Ended Working Group (OEWG-4) meeting in Nairobi, Kenya from 21-26 June to bend the curve on biodiversity loss. This Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) is expected to be adopted at the CBD COP 15 in Montreal, Canada – under the Chinese presidency – in December 2022.
Nairobi meetings acknowledge key role of subnational governments in tackling biodiversity loss
The CBD is the only Rio Convention that has a systematic and comprehensive mechanism for multilevel governance that provides a framework for local and subnational governments to support Parties in reaching global and national biodiversity targets.
What was achieved at OEWG-4
The Local and Subnational Major Group
The Local and Subnational Major Group was represented in-person by ICLEI with Ingrid Coetzee heading the delegation, and the Advisory Committee on Subnational Governments for Biodiversity, represented by a delegation from Quebec Province comprising Assistant Deputy Minister Jacob, Martin Malus – head of the delegation – Jean Lemire, and Rachel Levesque. Similar to previous CBD post-2020 meetings, ICLEI coordinated the delegation.
While there are still important elements that require additional work and consultation with the capital to further streamline texts, the Nairobi negotiations represented a good outcome for the local and subnational major group. These outcomes include:
- similar to previous meetings, the meeting was marked by an increase in Parties (Nepal, Iran and the Philippines) calling for the inclusion of local and subnational governments in the GBF;
- some Parties commended the Local and Subnational Major Group on how well coordinated and strategic their interventions were;
- the Local and Subnational Major Group was given the opportunity to make two interventions in the contact groups – both interventions for text amendments to section B.bis (on [Principles and] [Approaches] [Guidance] for the implementation of the Framework) were supported by the Parties. References to local and subnational governments are also found in section B. Purpose, section D. Theory of Change, and section 1. Enabling Conditions; and
- the group was invited to deliver joint statements in the opening and closing plenaries.
Local and subnational governments at COP 15 and 7th Cities Summit
For years, the story of cities has been a tale of attempting to carve out a place for humans outside of nature, a model that has exacerbated our global environmental challenges. Urban areas are perceived as drivers of environmental degradation, nature loss, climate change, and pollution. For cities to make peace with nature and to achieve the goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), we need to design and redesign our cities and urban infrastructure with nature in mind.
Luckily, in recent years we have recently seen a recognition of the value of nature and biodiversity in cities, rural-urban linkages and reduction of urban sprawl. Since the 2016 HABITAT III conference, urban-rural linkages have emerged as one of the vibrant means of implementing the New Urban Agenda. Following this, UN Agencies have joined forces to help (re)establish a healthy relationship between urban environments and the ecosystems they are part of.
At the World Urban Forum (WUF), UNEP and the CBD Secretariat (SCBD) collaborated in an event with UN Habitat, FAO and ICLEI to discuss how effective cooperation between UN Agencies can support enhanced urban-rural governance and nature protection. The results of this roundtable will feed into the agenda of the 7th Summit of Cities and Sub-national Governments, which will be held in conjunction with the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the CBD in Montreal, Canada in December 2022.
On 18 July, renowned Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti took CitiesWithNature – the global urban nature partnership initiative – to the stars, by posting a tweet from SPACE to highlight the importance of urban biodiversity and ecosystem restoration.
Samantha Cristoforetti, aka AstroSamantha, is a renowned Italian astronaut in the European Space Agency. In 2001, Samantha joined the Italian Air Force, and was selected as a European Space Agency astronaut in May 2009. On 23 November 2014, Samantha was launched from the cosmodrome of Baikonur in Kazakhstan, and returned to Earth on 11 June 2015, after spending 200 days in space. The mission, which was given the name Futura, was the second long-duration flight opportunity for the Italian Space Agency, and the eighth for an ESA astronaut.
In 2019, Samantha served as commander for NASA’s 23rd Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO23) mission during a 10-day stay in the world’s only undersea research station, Aquarius. Samantha returned to the International Space Station for her second mission, Minerva, on 27 April 2022. She was launched in a new SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule named Freedom alongside her Crew-4 crew mates, NASA astronauts Bob “Farmer” Hines, Kjell Lindgren and Jessica “Watty” Watkins.
Samantha is a UNICEF ambassador and donates to UNICEF the proceeds from sales of her memoir Diary of an Apprentice Astronaut, in which she shares her experience of being selected as an astronaut and then training for and flying her first space mission.
AstroSamantha called for proposals on impactful biodiversity and ecosystem restoration work across the globe that is visible from SPACE so that she could highlight the value of nature and the importance of protecting biodiversity during her mission. ICLEI partnered with the City of Cape Town, a long-standing Member and pioneer CitiesWithNature city, and asked AstroSamantha to feature the incredible work that is being done in the Blaauwberg Nature Reserve, while also calling on all cities to join CitiesWithNature and strengthen action through collaboration! On 18 July, the following Tweet circulated the globe, directly from Mission Minerva, reaching AstroSamantha’s 989.6k followers:
The space-based tweet highlighted the progress made through the Blaauwberg Large-scale Sand Fynbos Restoration Project in Cape Town. Cape Town is the most biodiverse city in the world, famous for its amazing variety of plants, collectively known as Fynbos. Cape Flats Sand Fynbos is a critically endangered habitat type, intrinsically rich in biodiversity, and found only within the city. The area being restored in Blaauwberg Nature Reserve was highly degraded and covered in dense woody alien invasive species. Besides having immense ecological importance, this area is also historically and socially significant. This restoration project is a prime example of collaboration and co-learning between researchers at a local university and City of Cape Town management, with external funders. Besides its ecological successes and lessons learnt, this project has produced a range of research projects and scientific papers on the various methodologies tested and employed, making it a great case study for other cities across the globe. The restoration project started in 2012 and is ongoing.
Why urban ecosystem restoration?
The total area covered by the world’s cities is set to triple in the next 40 years as millions of people continue to move into cities each week. Cities, regions and towns can control the way they change and grow, through a nature-positive approach. Collaboration across cities globally, and with all stakeholders, are essential to protecting biodiversity, restoring ecosystems, providing safe and accessible green open spaces, and reconnecting people with nature. CitiesWithNature, like Cape Town, are reaching for the stars and leading the way in restoring biodiversity and reconnecting their communities with nature. Restoring biodiversity can restore hope, and will help make cities sustainable and resilient through the ecosystem services provided by nature. Cape Town is one of the first hundred pioneer cities of the global CitiesWithNature initiative – which has now reached over 200 cities committed #ForNature. CitiesWithNature provides the UN Biodiversity-recognized platform that secures collaboration to strengthen the necessary actions to ensure that we have a bright, green future at peace with nature.
By 2025, nearly 6 billion people will live within 200 km of a coastline. Population growth and climate change-related impacts are increasing coastal risks and degrading coastal ecosystems upon which millions depend. Climate change impacts also compound existing pressures, such as pollution from land-based sources, ocean acidification and overfishing. Coastal cities and regions have unique opportunities to mobilize and demonstrate leadership in taking action to protect our ocean and ensure that the ocean and its accompanying coast are sustainably managed.
ICLEI was involved in a number of sessions and played a role in bringing to the forefront the role of subnational governments in ocean governance. As evident during the conference, both national and subnational governments are leading the way, taking domestic and international actions that expand climate-ocean policy and financing for this work.
Organizations and partnership initiatives such as ICLEI, CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature can facilitate learning from coastal city leaders, while simultaneously seeking deeper integration across climate, ocean and biodiversity commitments. These efforts will advance actions that address climate change, support food security and sovereignty, and increase resilience of marine ecosystems, economies, and communities.
Despite the delays in pivotal ocean and climate convenings and benchmarks as a result of Covid-19 restrictions, the UN Oceans conference sparked momentum once again, through the notable outcome of the 2022 UN Oceans Conference – the ‘Our Ocean, Our Future, Our Responsibility’ declaration.
Session key messages included
- Coastal territories adaptation has to be considered at a larger territorial scale. From megalopolis to secondary cities and small towns, the more vulnerable urban areas have to collaborate at the regional scale to better design sustainable coastal adaptation strategies. It is crucial to reinforce cooperation at every level and encourage a “whole-of-society” approach.
- Climate coastal adaptation is changing towards a new sustainable paradigm. There is no one-fit-all solution. Managed retreat, nature-based solutions, hard and soft coastal protection, technical innovations, early warning systems, raising awareness, and education are all relevant responses that have to be combined, considering the local context.
- Key coastal stakeholders all have to be engaged in the global coastal transition for a sustainable blue economy, a well-adapted coastline and an equitable future. Local decision makers, populations, civil society, ports, tourism sector and privates should all be part of a co-construction process.
- Coastal adaptation and resilience has to include societal issues. Many communities have a difficult time securing funds and techniques for equitable coastal resilience. Targeting youth and women in terms of livelihood, coastal adaptation might be an opportunity to reduce poverty and social inequalities.
Session key messages included
- Local and regional governments have been leading in developing effective solutions through local public service provision, partnerships and initiatives that include and support fishers, and local populations and their know-how and experience must be harnessed to protect our oceans.
- Co-management approaches among different spheres of government and actors trigger a culture of collaboration and trust thus enabling an ecosystem-based management. These approaches can in turn permeate to other sectors.
- The achievement of sustainable small-scale fisheries calls for inclusive and participatory governance arrangements, at all levels. This entails meaningful participation, taking into account and addressing existing power imbalances, strengthening stakeholder organizations, such as small-scale fisheries organizations and supporting dialogue and peer learning.
- Close collaboration among actors must be backed by scientifically recognized data, all facilitated by impartial elements that ensure accountability and transparent, informed and fair processes.
- The capacity of local and regional governments in building sustainable management models needs to be strengthened. Particularly, the capacity of SIDS and their cities and regions to respond to global challenges in light of increased ocean and sea degradation.
- Local and regional governments are willing to join the decision-making table on biodiversity and ecosystem conservation, convening a powerful voice one the global agendas, while promoting opportunities for peer-learning, exchange of experiences and scale-up of effective practices.
To prioritize nature-based solutions during the “Super Year for Nature” — a year when the global community is calling for nature to have its “Paris Agreement” moment — ICLEI USA is hosting a six-part “Biodiversity Bootcamp” learning-and-leadership virtual training series open to all U.S. cities, counties, and communities (non-ICLEI members welcome). From July 18 until August 22, 2022, every Monday 11:30 am to 12:30 pm MST, engage with the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) proceedings unlike ever before.
Each Bootcamp session features a unique lens on biodiversity solutions:
- Session 1: Introduces global frameworks and advocacy at the federal, state, and local levels and outlines the Bootcamp
- Session 2: Establishes baselines for action in support of nature, showcases natural asset mapping, and features International Union for Conservation of Nature nature-based solutions in cities’ framework
- Session 3: Explores finance options (crowdfunding, green bonds, grant programs, and making good use of U.S. Infrastructure Bill funds)
- Session 4: Includes community driven planning, financing, and implementation of biodiversity solutions within local communities
- Session 5: Focuses on community engagement and citizen science and explores city-university collaborations and their role in taking action for nature
- Session 6: Features a ‘putting-it-all-together’ workshop, which includes reviewing success indicators, implementing a natural asset report map, and determining threats to current management
Want to take action for nature and spearhead nature-based solutions in your community? Read more about the free Biodiversity Bootcamp, and register here to be at the forefront of addressing and remediating the global biodiversity crisis.
RegionsWithNature welcomes subnational governments and partners to our webinar on 13 July. Regions, provinces, prefectures or departments that have already joined RegionsWithNature are invited, as well as other regional/subnational governments and partners that would be interested in joining.
Wednesday, July 13, 15:00 – 16:30 CEST
Other time zones: 08:00 Mexico / 09:00 Quebec / 10:00 São Paulo / 22:00 Aichi
The webinar aims not only to keep you updated about RegionsWithNature developments, but also to gather your suggestions, comments and needs/requests for forging the platform accordingly.
We will also present specific case studies on nature work (including on ecological infrastructure, biodiversity management, and restoration) from the Scottish and the Yucatán Governments.
Governments converge towards consensus for key elements of the Global Biodiversity Framework to safeguard nature
Good progress made on issue of Digital Sequence Information
A process will be developed to advance discussions before COP 15
Parties set out their ambitions with respect to the goals of the framework, and refined the essential targets related to conservation, sustainable use, and benefit-sharing. They worked to develop a plan for resource mobilization and other means of implementation and highlighted the contribution of nature to climate change mitigation and adaptation.
Parties also charted the pathway for an agreement on the sharing of benefits from Digital Sequencing Information on genetic resources. Their discussions also strengthened the role of Indigenous peoples, local communities, women, youth, and other stakeholders and to ensure that all voices will be heard, and no one will be left behind. “I want to thank the Parties for their hard work, their commitment to consensus, and honest engagement in these negotiations” said Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity. “These efforts are considerable and have produced a text that, with additional work, will be the basis for reaching the 2050 vision of the Convention: a life in harmony with nature.” “I call upon the Parties, in the next months, to vigorously engage with the text, to listen to each other and seek consensus, and to prepare the final text for adoption at COP 15” she said.
Images courtesy of WWF
Discussions over the week covered the entire framework text, which includes 4 goals, 23 proposed targets, and all of the elements that will enable nations to meet them. Delegates also made progress on the issue of Digital Sequence Information; a separate agenda item related to the framework.
The important four goals of the framework – A through D, were also a subject of intense discussion:
Goal A – protecting biodiversity at all levels and preventing extinctions;
Goal B – ensuring that biodiversity can meet people’s needs and support their human rights;
Goal C – benefits from the use of biodiversity and genetic resources are shared with equity and the traditional knowledge and rights of Indigenous and Local Communities are respected; and
Goal D – Adequate level of the means of implementation are enabled, including financial resources, capacity building and other supports to action.
A path for work towards COP 15 in Montreal, Canada in December 2022
Notwithstanding the important advances, a considerable amount of work will be required to advance the text for final high-level consideration by CBD’s 196 Parties at COP15. The Meeting agreed to develop a path forward that includes the engagement of all regions preparing for talks involving all Parties immediately before the second part COP 15. These gatherings would prepare a text for final negotiation by Ministers and their delegations at the second part of COP 15.
The upcoming UN Biodiversity Conference will be held from 5 to 17 December in Montreal, Canada, under the presidency of the Government of China
The Conference will comprise:
- the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity;
- the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety; and
- the 4th meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing.
Kunming, China, has become the 244th signatory to the Edinburgh Declaration, a statement of intent that has been agreed between subnational and local governments across the world and calls on Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to take bold action to halt biodiversity loss.
The Scottish Government, with support from a wide range of partner organizations, proudly hosted the Edinburgh Process for Subnational and Local Governments on the Development of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, which began towards the end of April 2020.
The Edinburgh Process brought together delegates from across the world representing all levels of governments, including strong representation from subnational and local governments, as well as indigenous people and local communities, women, youth, NGOs and the business community.
The Edinburgh Declaration for subnational governments, cities and local authorities on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, sets out the aspirations and commitments of local and subnational governments for the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, to work alongside CBD Parties in taking transformative actions for nature over the coming decade, to deliver the 2050 vision of ‘living in harmony with nature.’
The Edinburgh Declaration also calls for greater prominence to be given to the role that subnational and local governments play in delivering a new global framework of targets and affirms their readiness to meet this challenge.
More specifically, subnational and local governments are calling on CBD Parties to support the adoption at COP15, of a new dedicated decision for the greater inclusion of subnational and local governments within the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.
The Edinburgh Process Partners include the Welsh Government, the UK Government Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), European Committee of the Regions (CoR), ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, the Government of Quebec, Regions4 Sustainable Development, Group of Leading Subnational governments toward Aichi Biodiversity Targets (GoLS), with support from the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), NatureScot, and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE).
CitiesWithNature/RegionsWithNature warmly welcomes its newest member to the family, the European Committee of the Regions!
ICLEI, one of the founding members of the CitiesWithNature/RegionsWithNature platform, has been working in close collaboration with the EU CoR for a long time. ICLEI Europe particularly, has played the strong role of supporting the EU CoR in delivering opinions on Biodiversity in relation to the Post 2020 GBF. There have been multiple arenas where ICLEI Europe and EU CoR have joined forces and one prominent example is the Edinburgh Declaration, where EU CoR participates in regular strategic meetings to further the progress on the commitments from the various signatories to the Edinburgh Declaration.
Building on this strong foundation, ICLEI invited the Committee of the Regions to become a partner to the RegionsWithNature platform. RegionsWithNature aims to strengthen the voice of the regional authorities in the scope of biodiversity and nature-based solutions and make it heard at the national and international levels. By joining RegionsWithNature, CoR unites with ICLEI, Regions4, the Group of Leading Subnational Governments (GoLS), IUCN and other international organizations. RegionsWithNature is also supported by the UN Environment Programme and the Secretariat of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, with numerous regional and subnational governments already on board, including Yucatán and Campeche in Mexico, São Paulo and Pernambuco in Brazil, Goa in India, the Community of Madrid and Catalonia in Spain, the Western Cape Province in South Africa, Québec in Canada and Scotland in the UK.
We are honored to welcome the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) into the RegionsWithNature initiative and platform, under our shared missions of connecting urban planning and biodiversity conservation.
While CoR is the voice of regions and cities in the European Union (EU), RegionswithNature brings together regional and subnational leaders and their partners from around the world, providing access to tools and resources on nature-based solutions, ecosystem restoration, and biodiversity conservation, and sharing regional commitments to achieving global nature goals.
The path ahead, to meet the demands of the biodiversity agenda specifically the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, is ambitious and demanding. Promising outcomes for Europe and the world in halting biodiversity loss and restoring ecosystems on a large scale requires inclusive partnerships built upon shared principles and values for implementing concerted and successful actions. Thus, with EU CoR committing to take an active role in the global biodiversity arena by joining RegionsWithNature, we are certain that we are on the right track with collective strong ambitions to make a positive change.
Urbanization is one of the key defining mega-trends of our time. Four billion people, about half of the world’s population, currently live in urban areas. This number is expected to dramatically increase with the predicted rise in urbanization rates. According to The Nature in the Urban Century report, authored by The Nature Conservancy, Future Earth and The Stockholm Resilience Centre, by 2050, there will be 2.4 billion more people in cities, a rate of urban growth that is equivalent to building a city the population of London every seven weeks. Humanity will urbanize an additional area of 1.2 million km2, larger than the country of Colombia.
The urbanization trend poses a major threat to several critical ecosystems, including wetlands. Wetlands can play a crucial role in urban biodiversity, and in maintaining ecosystems and the well-being of urban communities. When preserved and sustainably used, urban wetlands can provide cities with multiple economic, social and cultural benefits. During storms, urban wetlands absorb excess rainfall, which reduces flooding in cities and prevents disasters and their subsequent costs. The abundant vegetation found in urban wetlands acts as a filter for domestic and industrial waste and contribute to improving water quality.
As cities grow and the demand for land use increases, the tendency is for development to encroach on wetlands, because they are often perceived as wastelands that can be used as dumping grounds or converted for other land uses.
Urban wetlands are prized assets, not wasteland, and therefore should be proactively conserved and integrated into the development and management plans of cities. The Convention on Wetlands (also known as the Ramsar Convention) is promoting cities that take exceptional steps to protect their wetlands and benefits to people, by giving credit to cities that prioritize their urban wetlands through an accreditation scheme.
The 172 Contracting Parties to the Convention on Wetlands have agreed to the conservation and wise use of wetlands in their territories. Recognizing the importance of cities and urban wetlands, the Convention introduced a Wetland City accreditation scheme in 2015 (Resolution XII.10). This voluntary scheme provides an opportunity for cities that value their natural and/or human-made wetlands to gain international recognition and positive publicity for their efforts. Cities must apply to be accredited and they have to show that they comply with a number of criteria, including exceptional protection, care and wise use of their wetlands through a range of mechanisms such as urban planning and education.
The intention is that The Wetland City Accreditation scheme will encourage cities in close proximity to and dependent on wetlands, especially Wetlands of International Importance, to highlight and strengthen a positive relationship with these valuable ecosystems, for example through increased public awareness of wetlands and participation in municipal planning and decision-making. The Accreditation scheme should further promote the conservation and wise use of urban and peri-urban wetlands, as well as sustainable socio-economic benefits for local people.
During the 59th meeting of the Convention on Wetlands Standing Committee on 26 May 2022, the Co-Chairs of the Convention on Wetlands Independent Advisory Committee on Wetland City Accreditation announced that 25 applicant cities had been accepted in recognition of their exceptional efforts to safeguard urban wetlands for people and nature.
Congratulations to the cities that have been accredited! One of the cities, Cape Town, is one of the pioneer CitiesWithNature – a global partnership initiative that recognizes and enhances the value of nature in and around cities across the world. The 2022 accredited cities are: