African urban greening movement partners with CitiesWithNature

Kijani Pamoja – based in Tanzania – has joined CitiesWithNature as an official partner! Kijani Pamoja is a youth-led Pan-African re-greening movement to activate, inspire, and educate communities to regreen cities and urban spaces and care for the environment. CitiesWithNature and Kijani Pamoja will collaborate on developing and sharing practical guidance around tree planting – specifically creating Miyawaki forests – as well as awareness raising and advocacy around nature, biodiversity and Green Recovery.

Kijani Pamoja means “Green Together” and works to unite communities to become restoration leaders and key drivers of the movement. Their mission is to activate financial and human resources to engage communities to take action and plant trees and uber-dense indigenous “mini” forests (Miyawaki Forests) in cities across Africa.

In March 2022, in partnership with the Embassy of Ireland to Tanzania, Kijani Pomoja launched a 10-year urban re-greening movement that aims to plant millions of trees to create thousands of mini-forests across Dar es Salaam. This forms part of their efforts to reduce the country’s largest commercial city’s vulnerability to climate change.

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Story and photo credit: John Namkwahe, Communication Lead at Kijani Pamoja


Dar es Salaam is estimated to lose about 10% of its trees annually according to IINTERACT-Bio’s 2019 study titled “A Thematic Atlas of Nature’s Benefits to Dar es Salaam”. The study further indicates that by 2040, Dar es Salaam will frequently experience temperatures above 36°C and therefore recommends that tree planting efforts are intensified.

A similar urban re-greening campaign was also launched in Zanzibar on 22 March, implemented by Kijani Pamoja partners to further promote the climate action agenda in the isles. The launch event brought together a number of environmental stakeholders from public entities, private institutions and development partners including embassies to Tanzania.

As a partner organization to CitiesWithNature, Kijani Pamoja aims to address some of the environmental challenges faced by other towns and cities across Tanzania and East African Community (EAC) Member States such as Kenya and Uganda in the near future.

“Protecting and enhancing urban green spaces provides huge benefits to one of Africa’s fastest growing cities. Growing and caring for trees encourages active community participation and improves the mental and physical health of people living in our cities” said Ms. Sarah Scott, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Founder of the Kijani Pamoja Movement during the organization’s launch in March. Moreover, she appealed to the Tanzanian government, global donor community, private sector, and local communities to join hands and work together to eliminate the existing environmental challenges in the country.

The Tanzanian Government and environmental stakeholders operating in Tanzania including the Embassies and private sector institutions have pledged to support the Movement. In support of the movement, Ms. Jokate Mwegelo – a District Commissioner for Temeke, who officiated the movement launch on behalf of Dar es Salaam Regional Commissioner Mr. Amos Makala – said, “I am encouraged by the Kijani Pamoja mission and movement to engage various stakeholders plus communities in our country to plant trees and make our cities more livable and sustainable for the future”. She added: “We are all responsible for conserving nature for the betterment of our planet. The Government of Tanzania plays its part to conserve the environment by preserving forests and supporting environmental conservation initiatives in the country”.

The Irish Deputy Head of Mission, Ms. Mags Gaynor, emphasized the crucial role of forests in addressing climate change and protecting our planet. She added that, “Climate action is a diplomatic and development priority for Ireland. Therefore, Ireland is happy to support Kijani Pamoja in this initiative that will contribute to increasing urban forest conservation, mobilizing stakeholders, and inspiring youth to be at a forefront of the movement”.

Light pollution and its impact on migratory birds is the focus of World Migratory Bird Day 2022, a global campaign that aims to raise awareness of migratory birds and the need for international cooperation to conserve them. Activities to mark the day will be held globally under the theme “Dim the Lights for Birds at Night”.

Light pollution is increasing around the globe. More than 80 per cent of the world’s population is currently estimated to live under a “lit sky”, a figure closer to 99 per cent in Europe and North America. The amount of artificial light on the Earth’s surface is increasing by at least 2 per cent each year and could be much greater.

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Natural darkness has a conservation value in the same way as clean water, air, and soil.

A key goal of World Migratory Bird Day 2022 is to raise awareness of the issue of light pollution and its negative impacts on migratory birds.

Solutions are readily available, and we hope to encourage key decision-makers to adopt measures to address light pollution.

~ Amy Fraenkel, Executive Secretary of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) Tweet

Light pollution is a significant and growing threat to wildlife including many species of migratory birds. Every year, light pollution contributes to the death of millions of birds. It alters the natural patterns of light and dark in ecosystems. It can change birds’ migration patterns, foraging behaviours, and vocal communication. Attracted by artificial light at night, particularly when there is low cloud, fog, rain or when flying at lower altitudes, migrating birds become disorientated and may end up circling in illuminated areas. Depleted energy reserves put them at risk of exhaustion, predation, and fatal collision with buildings.

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An enormous diversity of birds, active at night, experience the impacts of light pollution.

Many nocturnally migrating birds such as ducks, geese, plovers, sandpipers and songbirds are affected by light pollution causing disorientation and collisions with fatal consequences.

Seabirds such as petrels and shearwaters are attracted by artificial lights on land and become prey for rats and cats.

~ Jacques Trouvilliez, Executive Secretary of the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA)0 Tweet

Solutions and recommendations to mitigate light pollution

Guidelines on light pollution covering marine turtles, seabirds, and migratory shorebirds were endorsed by the CMS Parties in 2020. Among their recommendations, the guidelines set forth six principles of best lighting practices and call for Environmental Impact Assessments for relevant projects that could result in light pollution. These should consider the main sources of light pollution at a certain site, the likely wild species that could be impacted, and facts about proximity to important habitats and migratory pathways.

New guidelines focusing on migratory landbirds and bats are currently being developed under CMS. They will be presented to CMS Parties for adoption at the 14th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to CMS in 2023.

Numerous governments, cities, companies, and communities around the world are already taking steps to address light pollution.

In some cities, particularly in North America, initiatives such as “Lights Out” programmes and bird-friendly building guidelines aim to protect migrating birds from light pollution by encouraging building owners and managers to turn off any unnecessary lighting during migration periods.

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World Migratory Bird Day is a call to action for international migratory bird conservation.

As migratory birds’ journey across borders, inspiring and connecting people along the way, it is our aim to use the two days in 2022 to raise awareness of the threat of light pollution and the importance of dark skies to bird migrations.

~ Susan Bonfield, Director, Environment for the Americas Tweet

More information

About World Migratory Bird Day

World Migratory Bird Day, celebrated in both May and October each year, is organized by a collaborative partnership among two UN wildlife treaties – the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) and the Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds

(AEWA) – and the non-profit organization, Environment for the Americas (EFTA). The 2022 campaign is also being actively supported by the East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) Secretariat, BirdLife International and a growing number of other dedicated organizations. World Migratory Bird Day highlights the importance of international cooperation for the conservation of migratory birds and their habitats. For the peak day in May, more than 200 registered events in over 30 countries to mark World Migratory Bird Day 2022 will include bird festivals, education programmes, media events, bird watching trips, presentations, film screenings and a benefit concert to raise funds for international nature conservation.

These events are hosted by governments, parks, schools, libraries, and numerous other groups and range from bird walks to educational workshops and festivals. Some events are offered virtually.

In the Americas, upcoming virtual events include an expert-led webinar on bird migration hosted by the National Audubon Society and a conversation with bird-glass collision researcher and author Daniel Klem Jr. hosted by Environment for the Americas on May 12th. There will be a virtual art activity and reading of the children’s book What if Night? with author Paul Bogard and illustrator Sarah Holden on May 13th.

The East Asian-Australasian Flyway Partnership (EAAFP) established a special WMBD Small Grant Fund to provide financial support to EAAFP Partners and collaborators to raise awareness on the need of conserving migratory waterbirds and the value of their habitats in the East Asian – Australasian Flyway. The EAAFP also published a special newsletter to mark World Migratory Bird Day 2022.

Why celebrate World Migratory Bird Day on two days?

Traditionally observed on the second Saturday of May and October, the two celebrations of World Migratory Bird Day are a way to reflect the cyclical nature of bird migration as well as the fact that there are varying peak migration periods in the northern and southern hemispheres. The two-day observance of World Migratory Bird Day also gives more people the chance to celebrate and contemplate migratory birds during peak migration times in different parts of the world.

About the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS)

An environmental treaty of the United Nations, the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS) provides a global platform for the conservation and sustainable use of migratory animals and their habitats. This unique treaty brings governments and wildlife experts together to address the conservation needs of terrestrial, aquatic, and avian migratory species and their habitats around the world. Since the Convention’s entry into force in 1979, its membership has grown steadily to include 133 Parties from Africa, Central and South America, Asia, Europe and Oceania. @bonnconvention

About the African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbird Agreement (AEWA)

The Agreement on the Conservation of African-Eurasian Migratory Waterbirds (AEWA) is an intergovernmental treaty dedicated to the conservation of migratory waterbirds that migrate along the African-Eurasian Flyway. The Agreement covers 255 species of bird ecologically dependent on wetlands for at least part of their annual cycle. The treaty covers 119 range States from Europe, parts of Asia and Canada, the Middle East and Africa. As of today, AEWA currently has 82 Parties, 44 from Eurasia (including the European Union) and 38 from Africa. @UNEP_AEWA

Environment for the Americas (EFTA)

EFTA is a Colorado-based non-profit organization that provides bilingual educational materials and information about birds and bird conservation to raise awareness of migratory birds and to promote actions that protect migratory birds throughout the Americas.

Related links:

CMS COP13 Resolutions and Decisions on Addressing Light Pollution:

Why should cities commit and take action for nature on the CitiesWithNature Action Platform?

CitiesWithNature Action Platform recognises the critical role cities play in protecting and restoring nature

Why do we need nature to make our cities more sustainable and resilient?

  • By 2050, two thirds of people will live in urban areas.
  • People depend on healthy ecosystems for food, livelihoods, health and wellbeing.
  • By integrating nature into our cities, we enhance community resilience to global challenges like climate change, and enable people and biodiversity to thrive.
  • There is a growing urgency for collective and large-scale action to protect the biodiversity in and around cities to prevent irreversible loss and damage to the natural systems we depend on.
  • Now more than ever, we must unite and embrace nature, reconnect communities with nature, and become CitiesWithNature! 

Why are the world’s biodiversity goals important for cities?

  • Through the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD), countries commit to a new and ambitious blueprint, the post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF), to guide actions for protecting nature and its vital contributions to people.     
  • The GBF has a whole-of-government approach and recognizes that cities and subnational governments are key to its successful implementation.
  • In the 2030 Action Targets, the GBF sets out clear targets for urgent actions we must take in the next decade, so that people may live in harmony with nature and thrive.

How can CitiesWithNature help cities to thrive with nature?

What contribution can cities make?

  • Cities are where most people live, where new ideas germinate, where most of the consumption that threatens nature takes place, and where many decisions are made, reaching far beyond the city limits.
  • Local and subnational governments have direct contact with the people who live in their cities, allowing for more concrete and strategic action on the ground.
  • Local and subnational governments have the power to integrate nature into the way cities work.
  • They can do this through policy reform, advocacy, investment, and on-the-ground interventions.
  • They can do this for land use and urban development planning; infrastructure development and maintenance; management of consumption including agriculture, water and industry; resource mobilization; and urban response to disasters and risks – ultimately improving health and wellbeing.
  •  2030 Action Targets, the GBF sets out clear targets for urgent actions we must take in the next decade, so that people may live in harmony with nature and thrive.

What is the Action Platform?

  • The CBD recognizes the CitiesWithNature Action Platform in its Plan of Action on Subnational Governments, Cities and Other Local Authorities for Biodiversity (2021-2030 as the place where cities will monitor and report on their voluntary commitments to national and global biodiversity targets.
  • Through the Action Platform, cities can showcase their actions and plans, understand how they contribute to global nature goals and easily track their achievements.
  • The Action Platform translates the post 2020 global biodiversity framework into commitments that cities and regions are willing to make, taking specific actions under the commitments and setting targets for a particular action most relevant to the city’s local context.
  • It  has 3 action areas that align with the categories of the CBD 2030 Action Targets: to protect and restore nature; use nature sustainably; and develop tools and solutions.
  • , the GBF sets out clear targets for urgent actions we must take in the next decade, so that people may live in harmony with nature and thrive.

How cities can make their mark through the Action Platform

Level 1: Make a COMMITMENT

  • A city can show its commitment to take action on specific topics such as nature areas, recycling and access to parks.     
  • All commitments are voluntary but will contribute towards achieving global and national targets for protecting and restoring nature.
  • After making commitments, cities can move on to the next step: Taking specific actions and setting specific targets aligned with their local and regional context and priorities.

Level 2: Take specific ACTIONS to achieve a commitment

  • After making a particular commitment, a city can identify what actions they will take to achieve it.     
  • For example, after committing to “Protect, connect and restore ecosystems”, a city can specify how it will achieve this by taking actions such as “Increase protected areas” or “Restore degraded areas.”
  • These actions should align with the city’s biodiversity plans, policies and strategic direction, as well as subnational and national biodiversity strategies and action plans. 
  • They should be implemented at the city’s pace, considering capacity and resources.

Level 3: Set specific TARGETS to monitor progress

  • After making a commitment, and identifying the actions to be taken, cities can then set targets to track their progress. 
  • For each action, a city can set a specific target for what it wants to achieve by 2030. For example, “By 2030, protected areas will cover 4% of the city’s jurisdiction.”           
  • For each target, a city must also set a baseline. For example, “Currently protected areas cover 2% of the city’s jurisdiction.”

Linking the three levels of the Action Platform

  • Commitments, actions and targets are the three levels of the Action Platform geared to help you in your journey towards achieving sustainability goals. For example:
  • Commitment: Our city commits to protect, connect and restore ecosystems.     
  • Action: We will achieve this commitment by taking the action of increasing protected areas in our city.      
  • Target: By 2030, protected areas will cover 4% of the city.

Calling all cities to take action!

  • By using the Action Platform, cities can inspire each other and show the world what actions they are taking for nature and people. They can monitor and track their progress, and see how their actions compare with other cities in their country, region or continent. 
  • The Action Platform also helps cities to gather information to feed into their countries’ National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans. This helps their countries to achieve national priorities and simplify their reporting to the UN CBD.
  • Join CitiesWithNature and use the Action Platform to unite with other cities around the world – to ensure healthier, happier and safer cities for a nature-positive future.

CitiesWithNature Action Platform launch on Earth Hour 2022: Support from partners

CitiesWithNature Action Platform launch on Earth Hour 2022: Support from leaders

CitiesWithNature Action Platform recognizes the critical role cities play in protecting and restoring nature

The new CitiesWithNature Action Platform will accelerate bold action for nature by enabling cities to make voluntary commitments that contribute towards achieving global and national biodiversity targets.

By joining CitiesWithNature and using the Action Platform, cities become part of a global community of like-minded frontrunner cities, increasing collective action and cumulative positive impacts for people and the planet. They inspire and prompt other cities to take action, learn from each other, receive international recognition for their contributions and successes, and build the case for scaling up projects and attracting funding for nature.

These commitments also contribute to a global Action Agenda under the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), in support of the forthcoming post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. The connection to the Sharm El Sheikh to Kunming Action Agenda for Nature and People elevates commitments from cities and non-state actors to reduce the drivers of biodiversity loss and advance positive socio-economic and ecological outcomes.

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Cities and subnational governments are key to the successful implementation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, and I applaud our active collaboration in connecting the CitiesWithNature Action Platform as an engagement channel to raise awareness and mobilize cities’ commitments worldwide into the Sharm El Sheikh to Kunming Action Agenda for Nature and People.

We welcome the opening of the CitiesWithNature Action Platform, which is recognized by the Convention on Biological Diversity in the draft Plan of Action on Subnational Governments, Cities and Other Local Authorities for Biodiversity (2021-2030), as the place where cities will monitor and report on their voluntary commitments to national and global biodiversity targets.

Only a whole-of-government approach will ensure the urgent change needed to secure a sustainable future for all!

~ Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity Tweet

While the nations of the world gather in Geneva to advance the text for an ambitious and transformative post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework to safeguard nature, large and small cities around the world are encouraged to share their actions on the CitiesWithNature Action Platform. It is envisaged that this will be just as influential as the climate actions of cities, which have been shared via global climate reporting platforms for many years.

The CitiesWithNature Action Platform is aligned with the 2030 Action Targets in the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, and makes it easy for cities to share their commitments, set their own targets, track their progress, and see how their actions compare with other cities in their country, and globally. It also helps cities gather information on how they contribute to their countries’ National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans, and can support national reporting to the UN CBD.

With more than 80% of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) generated in cities and more than half of global GDP estimated to be dependent on nature, it is clear that cities have a critical role to play in ensuring nature is restored and protected. Local and subnational governments have the power to integrate nature into the way cities work, through policy reform, advocacy and on-the-ground interventions. Topics covered by the Action Platform include everything from nature-based solutions, ecosystem restoration and conservation, to biodiversity mainstreaming, financing and circular economy.

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By joining CitiesWithNature and using the Action Platform, cities across the world can commit ambitious actions that contribute to national and global biodiversity and nature goals, and easily track their achievements individually and collectively.

It is fitting that the Action Platform is opening to coincide with Earth Hour, as a catalyst for urgent change to shape our future,

~ Kobie Brand, Global Director of ICLEI’s City Biodiversity Centre Tweet

At the Geneva meetings in March ahead of the UN Biodiversity Summit (COP15) later this year, the local and subnational governments major group delivered a strong statement at the Joint Opening Plenary Session of OEWG-3, SBSTTA 24 & SBI-3.

The resumed sessions of the twenty-fourth meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 24), the third meeting of the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI 3) and the third meeting of the Open-ended Working Group on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (WG2020-3), are taking place 14-29 March 2022 in Geneva, Switzerland. Read more about the Geneva meetings here. 

Local & Subnational Governments Major Group Statement read by Jean Lemire on 14 March 2022

Honourable Chairs, Co-chairs and distinguished delegates,

I address you on behalf of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, the Advisory Committee on Subnational Governments and Biodiversity – coordinated by Regions4 and the Government of Québec, the Group of Leading Subnational Governments toward the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, the European Committee of the Regions, and the Edinburgh Process Partners.

As the local and subnational governments major group, we would like to refer to the three bodies that will be in session during this negotiation meeting.

Firstly, for the Open-ended working group, we wholeheartedly welcome the mentions to local and subnational governments throughout the GBF. Our constituency can, and will, contribute to the 21 targets of the GBF. Accordingly, we strongly suggest adding a definition of the “whole of government” approach in the Glossary to ensure that harmonization between levels of government and across government is included. We must clarify that it covers all levels of governments in a vertical multi-level approach. We also ask for the reintegration of Nature-Based Solutions into the GBF. In that matter, the UNEA recently adopted a definition of NBS that could be valuable for CBD. The UNEA and IUCN’s definition demonstrates that NBS can have tremendous benefits for biodiversity and people. It is our responsibility to forge a definition that will limit the possibilities for negative impacts on biodiversity.

Secondly, for the SBI, we strongly advise Parties to “adopt” the CRP8 on the engagement with subnational governments, cities and other local authorities to enhance the implementation of the GBF as a whole of government approach. It aims at renewing the previous decision made by Parties at COP-10. Local and subnational governments are already taking actions on biodiversity per their competencies and priorities. This will optimize our actions and allow their contribution to the national and global targets. It will also allow for a more comprehensive and systematic reporting, including through the CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature platforms. We published the INF/DOC/45 and now ask the Parties to adopt the plan of action during the Geneva meeting.

Thirdly, for the SBSTTA, we reiterate that it is essential to include local and subnational governments in the official monitoring and reporting framework of the GBF. All indicators must include our constituency for our initiatives to be considered in the national and global targets.

We look forward to discussing these points further and suggesting how local and subnational governments can contribute to the GBF.

Thank you.

Honorables présidents, coprésidents et distingués délégués,

Je m’adresse à vous au nom d’ICLEI, du Comité consultatif sur les gouvernements infranationaux pour la biodiversité – coordonné par Regions4 et le gouvernement du Québec, du Groupe des GoLS, du Comité européen des régions et de l’ensemble des partenaires du processus d’Édimbourg.

En tant que groupe des gouvernements locaux et infranationaux, nous souhaitons faire référence aux trois rencontres concernées par cette ronde de négociation.

Tout d’abord, pour le groupe de travail à composition non limitée, nous saluons de tout cœur les mentions faites aux gouvernements locaux et subnationaux dans l’ensemble du cadre mondial. Notre groupe peut contribuer, et contribuera, aux 21 cibles du cadre mondial. En conséquence, nous suggérons fortement d’ajouter une définition de l’approche “whole of government” dans le glossaire afin de s’assurer que l’harmonisation entre les niveaux de gouvernement est incluse. Nous devons préciser qu’elle couvre non seulement tous les gouvernements dans une approche d’intégration horizontale, mais également toutes les échelles de gouvernements – soit locale, infranationale et nationale – et ce, dans une approche verticale. Nous demandons également la réintégration des solutions fondées sur la nature dans le cadre mondial. À cet égard, l’UNEA a récemment adopté une définition des solutions fondées sur la nature qui pourrait être utile aux travaux de la Convention. La définition de l’UNEA et de l’UICN démontre que les solutions fondées sur la nature peuvent avoir des avantages considérables pour la biodiversité et les personnes. Il est de notre responsabilité de forger une définition qui limitera les possibilités d’impacts négatifs sur la biodiversité.

Deuxièmement, pour le SBI, nous demandons aux Parties d'”adopter” officiellement le document « CRP8 » sur le nouveau plan d’action des les gouvernements subnationaux, des villes et des autres autorités locales, afin d’améliorer la mise en œuvre du cadre et sa « whole of government approach ». Il vise à renouveler la décision précédente X/22, prise par les Parties lors de la COP-10. Les gouvernements locaux et subnationaux prennent déjà des mesures en faveur de la biodiversité en fonction de leurs compétences et de leurs priorités. Cela optimisera nos actions et permettra leur contribution aux objectifs nationaux et mondiaux. Cela permettra également d’établir des rapports plus complets et systématiques, notamment par le biais des plateformes CitiesWithNature et RegionsWithNature. Nous avons publié le document INF/DOC/45 et demandons maintenant aux Parties d’adopter le plan d’action lors de la réunion de Genève.

Troisièmement, pour le SBSTTA, nous réitérons qu’il est essentiel d’inclure les gouvernements locaux et subnationaux dans le cadre officiel de surveillance et de rapportage du prochain cadre mondial. Tous les indicateurs doivent inclure nos niveaux de gouvernance pour que nos initiatives soient prises en compte dans les objectifs nationaux et mondiaux.

Nous sommes impatients de discuter de ces points plus avant et de suggérer comment les gouvernements locaux et subnationaux peuvent contribuer au prochain cadre mondial.

Merci beaucoup!

Human-induced climate change is causing dangerous and widespread disruption in nature and affecting the lives of billions of people around the world, despite efforts to reduce the risks. People and ecosystems least able to cope are being hardest hit, said scientists in the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, released on 28 February.

Cities: Hotspots of impacts and risks, but also a crucial part of the solution

The report provides a detailed assessment of climate change impacts, risks and adaptation in cities, where more than half the world’s population lives. People’s health, lives and livelihoods, as well as property and critical infrastructure, including energy and transportation systems, are being increasingly adversely affected by hazards from heatwaves, storms, drought and flooding as well as slow-onset changes, including sea level rise.

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Together, growing urbanization and climate change create complex risks, especially for those cities that already experience poorly planned urban growth, high levels of poverty and unemployment, and a lack of basic services.

Cities also provide opportunities for climate action.

Green buildings, reliable supplies of clean water and renewable energy, and sustainable transport systems that connect urban and rural areas can all lead to a more inclusive, fairer society.

~ Debra Roberts, co-chair of the scientist working group Tweet

The headline statement about urban areas from the report is the following:

Interactions between changing urban form, exposure and vulnerability can create climate change-induced risks and losses for cities and settlements. However, the global trend of urbanisation also offers a critical opportunity in the near-term, to advance climate resilient development (high confidence). Integrated, inclusive planning and investment in everyday decision-making about urban infrastructure, including social, ecological and grey/physical infrastructures, can significantly increase the adaptive capacity of urban and rural settlements. Equitable outcomes contribute to multiple benefits for health and well-being and ecosystem services, including for Indigenous Peoples, marginalised and vulnerable communities (high confidence). Climate resilient development in urban areas also supports adaptive capacity in more rural places through maintaining peri-urban supply chains of goods and services and financial flows (medium confidence). Coastal cities and settlements play an especially important role in advancing climate resilient development (high confidence).   

Cities and settlements are crucial for delivering urgent climate action. The concentration and interconnection of people, infrastructure and assets within and across cities and into rural areas creates both risks and solutions at global scale.

Climate change has altered marine, terrestrial and freshwater ecosystems all around the world (very high confidence). Climate change has caused local species losses, increases in disease (high confidence), and mass mortality events of plants and animals (very high confidence), resulting in the first climate driven extinctions (medium confidence), ecosystem restructuring, increases in areas burned by wildfire (high confidence), and declines in key ecosystem services (high confidence). Climate-driven impacts on ecosystems have caused measurable economic and livelihood losses and altered cultural practices and recreational activities around the world (high confidence).

Delivered by Kobie Brand, – Kobie Brand, Deputy Secretary General: ICLEI 

The famed author, Fyodor Dostoevsky, once wrote that “every blade of grass, every insect, ant, and golden bee, all so amazingly know their path.”

It seems that, unfortunately, human beings may be the only element of nature deflecting from this natural path, with consequences and challenges that are shaping our future in challenging ways we did not foresee.

The complex, systemic socio-economic and environmental challenges we are facing nowadays – such as food security, climate change, water security, human health, disaster risk, human-induced species losses, ecosystem stresses and growing economic disparities – all however, still have solutions. And nature provides the opportunity for healing humanity’s relationship with Planet Earth – and yes, indeed nature is part of our cities and very much part of these solutions.

Nature is not only green landscapes, rivers, seashores, mountains, forests, and all that can be seen in a distant vista when one leaves the city. Nature is very much part of our urban environment – providing us and all living organisms with essential daily needs. And nature is not only found in our urban parks and gardens, it is literally all around us, in the very air we breathe, in the flight of every tiny insect and in the breakfast, lunch or dinner you and I will consume today. 

Too often still, urban development takes place uncontrolled, forcing nature out of our cities or depleting our green corridors, stripping them from providing the services we so easily take for granted for our very survival. The opposite approach – integrating nature deeply into urban planning – allows both nature and urban communities to thrive together.

Nature and natural processes could instead guide urban planning and design and we can implement green urban policies which provide us with the instruments to reconnect with nature and also make our local communities more resilient to other challenges such as climate change, droughts and flooding, heat island effects and air pollution.  Both people and nature benefit when the natural environment in and around cities is valued, cared for, healthy and sustainable.

Rich biodiverse ecosystems in and around our cities improve their liveability and the quality of life for all, but can particularly make a very significant and immediate difference for our most vulnerable populations who are already living on the edge, suffering hardest from the consequences of climate change, water stresses, quality and reliable food supply and air pollution.

There are plenty of great examples where nature is incorporated into good urban development. We know that local authorities have the tools and technologies to mainstream green infrastructure which in turn protects against extreme weather, support urban gardens to strengthen food security, increase green and blue spaces, improving quality of life for residents, and creating popular, safe and accessible recreation areas.

ICLEI member cities boast many and varied successful examples of building cities WITH nature. Stuttgart (Germany) has used regulatory policies and incentives to bring nature back into the city and created ventilation corridors to enable fresh air to sweep down from the hills surrounding the city. They also have over 2 million square metres of living green rooftops that absorb pollutants and reduce excess heat.

Shenzhen (China) is recognised as a pioneering low-impact development model because of its approach to stormwater management. Their main sports centre is equipped with a green roof, rain gardens and permeable pavement capable of capturing over 60% of annual rainfall. There are so many unique and innovative examples of working WITH nature to build the city we want for today and for tomorrow.

ICLEI, together with partners such as IUCN, WWF, UNEP and many others is successfully providing cities large and small with a global initiative called CitiesWithNature. Through CitiesWithNature, local and subnational governments are able to enhance the potential of nature to provide essential ecosystem services and solutions for the overall health of humans and for thriving robust natural habitats within and around our urban areas. Here, at CitiesWithNature, cities and regions can engage, connect, learn, share, act, and inspire each other to work WITH nature, protect, enhance and restore biodiversity – the very web of life we all depend on.

CitiesWithNature brings together over 200 cities across the globe, including Barcelona, Campinas, Rio de Janeiro, Medellin, Los Angeles, London, Merida, Tirana, Edmonton, Malmö, Cape Town, Dar es Salaam, Kochi, Montreal, Melbourne and many other leading local governments.

Among the many benefits and instruments that CitiesWithNature provides is the Nature Pathway, which guides cities on a journey of exploration and inspiration, where they can share with, and learn from, other cities. Along this journey, cities can show their commitments and ambitions towards incorporating nature’s benefits into city policy, planning and decision-making processes and implementation.

The year 2022 and the years ahead are crucial for the environment, with high-level events and conferences scheduled, which we hope will re-energise bold and ambitious international cooperation and new bolder collective action – also in our cities.

The United Nations Biodiversity Conference, COP15, represents an opportunity to transform humanity’s relationship with nature. The Kunming Declaration, as a result of the CBD COP 15, Part 1, is clearly voicing it by saying: “Putting biodiversity on a path to recovery is a defining challenge of this decade and it requires strong political momentum to develop, adopt and implement an ambitious and transformative post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.”

To reap the optimal benefits from such nature-based development interventions, all levels of government along with our urban communities will need to take hands and bring these efforts to the scale we need. And it can be done, if the will is there. Look at Freetown in Sierra Leone, where the city is busy planting and mapping and meticulously caring for hundreds of thousands of trees. The ambition is to plant 1 million trees in and around that one city alone! Bold leadership and whole of society approaches are what the world needs right now to restore our broken relationship with nature.

ICLEI, through its programmes, initiatives, projects and partners is fully committed to this. And we warmly invite all of you who are not yet part of the fast growing CitiesWithNature initiative to join us today! It is free and easy to join. Together, we can.

The second UN Environment Assembly (UNEA) Cities and Regions Summit challenges us to see cities as champions of nature and accelerators of a sustainable future. Experts and city leaders will speak about the value of nature-positive strategies in rethinking the way cities are planned, and how to scale up action for nature. Various CitiesWithNature partner organisations, such as ICLEI, WWF and IUCN, are involved in the summit, as well as CitiesWithNature cities such as Cape Town.

Join virtually for a dedicated session on “Urban Nature-Based Solutions to Counter Climate Risks and Limit Global Warming”. Cool Coalition partners will discuss how they are using nature to beat the heat and achieve a sustainable, resilient urban future.

Speakers include:

  • Kunal KumarJoint Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, India
  • Rebecca Pow MPMinister for Nature Recovery and the Domestic Environment, UK
  • Dieudonné Bantsimba, Mayor of Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo
  • Geordin Hill-Lewis, Executive Mayor of the Cape Town, South Africa
  • Eleni (Lenio) Myrivili, Chief Heat Officer, City of Athens, Greece
  • Supriya Sahu, Principal Secretary, Environment, Climate Change & Forest, Tamil Nadu
  • Ming Jiang, Deputy Director, Development & Reform Commission, Chengdu City, China
  • Jennifer Lenhart, Global Lead, WWF Cities
  • Stewart Maginnis, Deputy Director General, IUCN
  • Kongjian Yu, Professor, Peking College of Architecture and Landscape Architecture
  • Andy Deacon, Acting Managing Director, Global Covenant of Mayors 

What is the UN Environment Assembly (UNEA)?

The United Nations Environment Assembly, the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment, is holding its two-yearly meeting from 28 February to 2 March 2022. The Environment Assembly is the world’s highest-level decision-making body on the environment. It addresses the critical environmental challenges facing the world today. Understanding these challenges and preserving and rehabilitating our environment is at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

The Environment Assembly meets to set priorities for global environmental policies and develop international environmental law. Through its resolutions and calls to action, the Assembly provides leadership and catalyses intergovernmental action on the environment. Decision-making requires broad participation, which is why the Assembly provides an opportunity for all peoples to help design solutions for our planet’s health.

How cities can contribute

Wetlands are our most powerful ecosystems to combat climate risk, yet they are among the most threatened ecosystems and more than a quarter of wetland species globally, are threatened with extinction.

The Ramsar Convention is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation of wetlands. In total, 172 countries are signatories of the Ramsar Convention and agree to work towards wise use of all their wetlands, designate suitable wetlands as Wetlands of International Importance, known as Ramsar sites, and cooperate internationally on transboundary wetlands. Globally, there are 2 435 Ramsar Sites, covering 254,685,425 ha.

Wetlands offer significant and irreplaceable benefits to people in cities. They can enhance urban quality of life by the multitude of benefits they provide and can address certain urban problems. Wetlands sustain ground water and regulate soil moisture, support biodiversity, regulate floods, regulate climate by cooling cities, and retain contamination and nutrients. Property owners, value proximity to wetlands in urban areas, and studies have also shown positive values for recreation and commercial fishing.

Urban wetlands are precious assets and therefore should be integrated into the development, spatial and management plans of towns and cities.

Recognising the important role of cities in protecting and enhancing the benefits from urban wetlands, the Convention recently introduced a Wetland City accreditation scheme (Resolution XII.10 of 2015). This voluntary scheme provides an opportunity for cities that value their natural and human-made wetlands to gain international recognition and positive publicity for their efforts. The Wetland City Accreditation scheme will encourage cities to highlight and strengthen the positive relationship with their wetlands, with emphasis on creating public awareness of wetland benefits, incorporation of wetland protection into municipal planning and decision-making, and promoting wetland benefits for local people. This scheme provides positive branding opportunities for cities that demonstrate strong and positive relationships with their wetlands.

Detailed criteria for city accreditation are listed in Resolution XII.10 (under Featured Documents on the Ramsar web page). For the first time, during COP13, the Ramsar Convention recognized 18 cities that have taken exceptional steps to safeguard their urban wetlands. These pioneer cities received Ramsar Wetland City Accreditation and will serve as examples and inspire purposeful actions for other cities towards sustainable urbanization.

The 18 accredited cities are:

  • China: Changde, Changshu, Dongying, Haerbin, Haikou, Yinchuan
  • France: Amiens, Courteranges, Pont Audemer, Saint Omer
  • Hungary: Lakes by Tata
  • Republic of Korea: Changnyeong, Inje, Jeju, Suncheon
  • Madagascar: Mitsinjo
  • Sri Lanka: Colombo
  • Tunisia: Ghar el Melh

The second round of Ramsar wetland cities, currently under consideration, will be announced during the upcoming Standing Committee meeting scheduled for May 2022, to receive their award at COP14 scheduled for November 2022. The Ramsar Wetland Cities Independent Advisory Committee (IAC) reviews the Wetland City Accreditation applications and reports its decision to the Standing Committee. The Committee also coordinates the development of new draft resolutions for the city accreditation scheme. ICLEI currently serves as the co-chair of the IAC together with Austria.

Now is the time for action

and greater investment in the world's wetlands

City and regional governments can look forward to exciting new offerings on the CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature platforms, including global insights, tools to develop local solutions, and new ways to connect with each other and partner organisations.

This year, forward-thinking governments from cities and regions will continue looking for opportunities to work with nature to build thriving communities. The CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature platforms will help them to do this, with new tools, partners, capabilities and resources. 

2022 is a make-or-break year for the living world. The course for the next decade will be charted at the UN Biodiversity Summit (COP15 Part 2), scheduled to take place later this year in Kunming, China. The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration will also get into full swing after its successful launch last year. As always, local and regional governments can rely on ICLEI, one of the founding partners of CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature, to amplify their voices and connect them with the most important insights and partners.

On the online CitiesWithNature platform, cities of all sizes and levels of progress in working with nature are connecting, sharing their experiences and actions, and benefiting from access to a range of partner organisations and practical tools. Recently, New York was the 200th city to join CitiesWithNature, joining London, São Paulo, Cape Town, Barcelona, Istanbul, Montreal, Melbourne and other cities from around the globe.

Your city can also join CitiesWithNature, for free, here:  and receive the monthly CitiesWithNature Buzz newsletter.

Several exciting new features, tools and partnerships are planned for CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature to contribute to this anticipated super year for biodiversity.

Action Platform to launch ahead of UN Biodiversity COP

On the Action Platform you will be able to showcase your city’s actions and plans, understand how they contribute to global nature goals and easily track your city’s achievements. The Action Platform is recognised as the place where cities will monitor and report on their voluntary commitments to national and global biodiversity targets, by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in the renewed Plan of Action on Subnational Governments, Cities and Other Local Authorities for Biodiversity (2021-2030). 

Get practical advice from the Nature Pathway and new Guides on topics like resilience and invasive alien species

In the first months of this year, the Nature Pathway will relaunch with a brand new, intuitive interface. It will offer a comprehensive roadmap to integrate nature throughout your city’s plans, policies and operations. A new feature, Guides, will also be launched, providing expert guidance on how your city can tackle specific topics, such as enhancing resilience by working with nature, or managing invasive alien species.

Connect with leading partner organisations

The latest partner organizations to join the CitiesWithNature partnership initiative, are the National Park City Foundation – which aims to make cities greener, healthier, wilder and fairer places to live – and 8 80 Cities  – which brings citizens together to enhance mobility and public space for more vibrant, healthy, and equitable communities. CitiesWithNature provides cities with a single place to link with leading international organisations such as WWF, Cities4Forests and UNEP. Keep an eye out for announcements of other new partners.

Get the tools, resources and research findings you need

The Tools & Resources Hub already provides access to cutting-edge tools and resources on nature-based solutions, ecosystem restoration and green infrastructure. This year, a Knowledge & Research Hub will also be launched: an online “meeting place” and resource library for practitioners, researchers and other experts, both public and private, to engage and contribute to emerging practices and scientific thinking on nature in and around cities.

Training and an online interface for the City Biodiversity Index

Also known as the Singapore Index on Cities’ Biodiversity (SI), this self-assessment tool helps cities to evaluate and monitor the progress of their biodiversity conservation efforts against their own individual baselines. This facilitates capacity building, master-planning, priority setting and budgeting for biodiversity. Training sessions on the tool will be offered this year by Singapore NParks, CitiesWithNature and WWF, with dates to be announced soon. CitiesWithNature is also developing an online version of the City Biodiversity Index this year, which is currently only available as an offline handbook.

Inspire and be inspired on the Community Hub

The CitiesWithNature Community Hub will be co-created by people from cities around the world via social media. It will be open and freely available to anyone from any city to share their experiences, photos, video clips and stories about urban nature.

RegionsWithNature - A dedicated space for regional governments and their partners

Following its launch in October 2021 at the Daring Cities global forum, RegionsWithNature, will grow this year to a fully-fledged platform for regional governments, offering an Action Platform, tools and other features. Founding regional governments that have already thrown their weight behind RegionsWithNature include Yucatan in Mexico, São Paulo in Brazil, Goa in India, Comunidad de Madrid in Spain, the Western Cape in South Africa and Quebec in Canada. RegionsWithNature is being developed by founding partners ICLEIRegions4IUCN, the Group of Leading Subnational Governments toward Aichi Biodiversity Targets (GoLS) and others. Regional governments can look forward to the first meeting opportunities of RegionsWithNature in the first quarter of 2021. Join RegionsWithNature here:

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