UN Ocean Conference 2022 leads to political declaration
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.
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.
WorldBio 2022 sought projects and initiatives that will contribute to implementing the new global biodiversity targets and the Plan of Action for local and subnational governments, to:
show the world that cities, states, provinces and prefectures are taking action to make a difference;
stop the destruction of biodiversity, ecosystems and the planet; and
put the world on a path of restoration, healing and recovery.
WorldBio 2022 resulted in many fruitful discussions and progress, with the following key outcomes:
Five webinars will be convened in August or September (one webinar for each of the above themes) to build a better geographical balance in identifying projects and compiling a portfolio of projects that will contribute to the implementation of the GBF and Plan of Action;
Reviewing and refining of the concept proposal on the transition from the WBio2022 Event to the WBio Process to propose an appropriate institutional arrangement (the Pre-Governance Platform);
The WorldBio Process will be integrated with COP15 (part 2) and the 7th Global Biodiversity Summit of Cities, Edinburgh Process Partners, CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature, Regions4 Biodiversity Learning Platform, Advisory Committee on Sub-National Governments and Biodiversity, Group of Leading Subnational Governments towards Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and with other themes – particularly on Bioeconomy and Green and Blue Economy; and
Opportunities were explored to provide capacity building and resources to support cities and subnational governments in preparing bankable projects, identifying appropriate finance instruments to implement projects and meet requirements of donors.
ICLEI and its partners, such as Regions4 and the Advisory Committees on Cities and subnational governments, represent the group of local and subnational governments in the CBD, and advocate for the voice and ambitions of local and subnational governments in the CBD and its processes. This has resulted in the CBD’s recognition of cities and subnational governments as a major group, and their important contributions to achieving global biodiversity targets. In addition, Edinburgh Process, which culminated in the Edinburgh Declaration has resulted in an ambitious draft decision and Plan of Action for engaging local and subnational governments to be adopted at CBD COP15.