Six Chinese “Charming Cities” announced at COP15

The first-ever Pavilion for Subnational Governments and Cities at UN CBD’s COP15 not only created a home for the subnational and local governments constituency during the conference, but also offered a platform for the launches and announcements of a range of initiatives. During China Day on 13 December 2022, a new initiative titled “Biodiversity Charming City” – operated by ICLEI and China Environment News – announced six Chinese cities who achieved the Charming Cities title, namely: Chengdu, Kunming, Huzhou, Jiaxing, Nanyang, and Shenzhen. The initiative is developed to recognize those cities who have achieved remarkable progress and created best practices in biodiversity conservation at the local level in China. These six cities, which have all joined the CitiesWithNature partnership initiative, are currently implementing numerous biodiversity conservation projects, which are highlighted below.

Image: China Environment News, Chengdu Municipal Government

Chengdu

Chengdu City, the capital of Sichuan Province, is a mega-city with a permanent population of 21,192,000 with an urbanization rate of 79.5%. As an important high-tech industrial base in China, its GDP ranked 7th in the country in 2021. Chengdu is also one of the 34 biodiversity hotspots in the world, and rich in endemic and rare species, hailed as the “Garden of Western China” and the “Land of Abundance”. The city has received several titles for its biodiversity, including National Model City for Environmental Protection (2005),  “National Forest City” (2007) and in 2020, the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding was granted the title of “National Advanced Collective in Scientific Popularization”

Case study: Fireflies nestling in Tiantai Mountain-lighting up ecological protection

Tiantai Mountain, 110 kilometers from downtown Chengdu, is home to more than 20 kinds of fireflies, with the leading number and species nationwide. Fireflies require very demanding conditions for survival – including high air and water quality. As a result, these insects are regarded as a visual biological indicator. To protect firefly resources and create a viewing base for eco-tourism, Chengdu City prioritizes science-based approaches to ecological conservation and sustainable development.

By 2021, with a forest coverage of nearly 95%, Tiantai Mountain greatly improved the conditions for fireflies to survive, attracting more and more “starry” fireflies to settle in Tiantai Mountain along with many wild animal species. Through the continued protection and cultivation of the area, Tiantai Mountain has been honored as a National Scenic Area, National Forest Park and National 4A-Class Tourist Attraction, strengthening the city’s tourism-based economy.

Image: China Environment News, Huzhou Municipal Government

Huzhou

Huzhou is an important ecological conservation area and ecological barrier in the Yangtze River Delta region, with a forest coverage rate of over 48% and a wetland area of 47,800 hectares. The city has formed a wildlife habitat protection system with seven national nature reserves at the core, supplemented by wetland parks and forest parks. In 2013, Huzhou was awarded the title of “National Forest City”, and in 2022, it was approved to set up a sustainable development innovation demonstration zone.

Case study: Anji County, Huzhou City – bamboo ecology and economy in the “Hometown of Chinese Bamboo”

As the “Hometown of Bamboo”, Anji County in Huzhou City attaches great importance to biodiversity conservation. It actively promotes the transformation of bamboo–broad-leaved forests and the practice of interplanting in bamboo forests, transforming moso bamboo species, and cultivating a vast bamboo sea to secure a habitat for wild animals. Simultaneously, it uses bamboo to sequester carbon and increase carbon sinks for sustainable development. With the advantage of rich bamboo forest resources, Huzhou City has established the world’s first moso bamboo forest carbon flux observation system in 2010. In 2016, Anji County developed and completed the “Methodology of Bamboo Forest Operation Carbon Sink Project” and the country’s first bamboo forest operation carbon sink Chinese Certified Emission Reduction (CCER) project. Anji County’s bamboo industry offers bamboo structural materials, decorative materials, daily necessities, fiber products, biological products, and bamboo wood machinery, as well as crafts and food made of bamboo shoots. In 2021, Anji bamboo industries raked in 4.14 billion yuan in total, creating nearly 30,000 job opportunities.

Image: China Environment News, Jiaxing Municipal Government

Jiaxing

As one of the important cities in the Yangtze River Delta, Jiaxing is home to 5.4 million permanent residents. In the past five years, Jiaxing has invested more than 16 billion yuan in ecological protection and environmental management. The city has more than 3,000 species, including more than 1,000 species of terrestrial vascular plants, 300 species of terrestrial vertebrates, 600 species of insects and more than 1,000 species of aquatic organisms. In 2019, Jiaxing was named the “National Water Ecological Civilization City”, and in 2021, it was approved as a national ecological civilization construction demonstration zone.

Case study: South Lake Park – underwater forest green corridor around the lake

Jiaxing’s South Lake is a water storage hub for major local rivers. In 2020, Jiaxing South Lake District created a pilot water ecological environment demonstration zone in Zhejiang Province, to solve the problems of turbid water bodies and fragile water ecosystems, kicking off the South Lake Ecological Restoration Project. As a result of significantly improved water quality, the transparency of the lake was enhanced and resurging submerged plants in the South Lake area – which had almost entirely disappeared – now cover an area of 1.48 square kilometers, accounting for 28.5% of the water area, and forming a green corridor around the lake.

Jiaxing City has built the “South Lake District Water Digital Support System”, which is the first successful application of using underwater acoustic measurement technology to ensure high-precision and all-terrain measurement of river networks in the plain. This enables the underwater measurement and monitoring of underwater topography of rivers and lakes in the South Lake District, projected visually, to support effective policy-making to solve underwater problems.

Image: China Environment News, Kunming Municipal Government

Kunming

Kunming is the capital city of Yunnan Province – the richest biodiverse region in China and a global biodiversity hotspot – and host city to the UN CBD COP15 Part 1. By the end of 2021, Kunming had a population of 8.5 million long-term residents, of which 6.84 million are urban residents, accounting for 80.5% of the permanent residents population. Kunming’s complex and diverse topography, numerous lakes and rivers, and sound hydrothermal conditions have fostered rich biodiversity. In 2013, Kunming was named the “National Forest City”, in 2009, the “National Garden City”. and in 2022, Kunming was named the “National Greening Advanced Group” by the National Forestry and Grassland Administration.

Case study: Nature-based solutions – biodiversity restoration of Dianchi Lake

Dianchi Lake is the biggest lake in Kunming, serving 64% of the city’s population and 77% of the total economy. Since the 1970s, due to the rapid development of industry and agriculture around the lake, reclamation of land from the lake, and population growth, Dianchi Lake has been severely polluted by sewage. Recently, the Kunming Municipal People’s Government has implemented the eco-environment restoration of the lake, to improve harmony between the people, city, lake and industry.

Kunming has made space for Dianchi lake by returning ponds, farmland and housing to the lake through 90 km of breakwaters. The city has also built an ecological belt, including lakeside wetland, ecological forest, and naturally restored lake wetlands, effectively improving the living environment of wild animals and plants, and greatly improving the biodiversity of Dianchi Lake. At present, the natural shoreline rate of Dianchi Lake has reached 89%, forming a basically closed ecological belt around Dianchi Lake.

Image: China Environment News, Nanyang Municipal Government

Nanyang

Nanyang City is the geographical and cultural center of China, and home to the Funiushan Global Geopark and Baotianman Biosphere Reserve. In 2018, Nanyang City was approved as a national forest city, a national model city for greening, and a national pilot city for water ecological civilization. In 2021, the case of “Conservation and Restoration of Water Sources in the Middle Route of the Danjiangkou South-to-North Water Diversion Project in Henan” was included among the “100+ Biodiversity Positive Practices and Actions around the World” by the UN. Finally, in 2022, Nanyang was rated as one of the first national pilot zones for ecological progress.

Case study: Ecological Restoration of Water Sources in the Middle Route of the Danjiangkou South-to-North Water Diversion Project in Henan

Henan Danjiang Wetland National Nature Reserve is one of the richest biodiverse areas in Nanyang and crucial to providing safe drinking water for nearly 79 million residents living in Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei and Henan. However, the reservoir area of Danjiangkou Reservoir has a highly fragile ecological environment, with persistent challenges such as stony desertification of mountains, slope soil erosion, non-point source pollution of farmland and unsustainable use of wetlands. 

Over the past three years, degraded wetland of 4 million square meters at Danjiang Wetland National Nature Reserve has been restored, and over 6 million trees such as bamboo willow, dawn redwood, poplar, reed, and mulberry trees have been planted, which has vastly improved the wetland’s ecological environment. Numerous bird species have settled in the reserve, including the protected great bustard, golden eagle, and scaly-sided merganser species. The Danjiang Wetland has become the most important habitat and breeding place for birds in Henan Province and the most important place of transit for migrating birds in North China. This progress has further led to improved patrol, management and protection of the Reserve.

Image: China Environment News, Shenzhen Municipal Government

Shenzhen

Since its origin in 1979, Shenzhen has rapidly developed economically into a megacity with a permanent population of 17.68 million, a GDP of over 3 trillion yuan, and an urbanization rate of 100% in 2021. Shenzhen is both a mountainous and coastal city with diverse ecosystems and rich biological resources. In 2018, Shenzhen was approved to become an innovation demonstration zone for sustainable development, and in 2020, it was named the “National Model City for Ecological Progress”.

Case study:Public participation in the management of nature reserves: A case study of Futian Mangrove Ecological Park

The Shenzhen Futian Mangrove Ecological Park forms part of the coastal wetland ecosystem of Shenzhen Bay, creating a buffer zone between nature and the city for urban biodiversity protection. To protect natural ecosystems in the park, the city’s approach included mobilizing and educating the public, as well as improving public services. Ultimately, the Shenzhen Municipal Government is working towards a model characterized by government leadership and public participation in nature reserve management, with guidance from experts.

As a result of this approach, biodiversity in the park has increased – in particular, the 22 species of mangrove plants and species recorded on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Moreover, the ecological park creates opportunities for local and global exchanges and promotional activities to create awareness of the importance of the park. The marine forest restoration project of the ecological park was included among “Top 10 Typical Cases of “Nature-Based Solutions in China” by the Ministry of Natural Resources and IUCN.

The UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) from 7 to 19 December 2022 in Montréal provided the ideal opportunity for the CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature global partnership initiatives to highlight their notable progress in recent months. 

 CitiesWithNature has particularly experienced significant growth since its launch in 2018. During the 7th Summit for Subnational Governments and Cities at COP15, 36 new cities and five new global partners were welcomed to the CitiesWithNature global partnership initiative, which is recognized by the UN Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity as the platform where subnational governments, cities and other local authorities report on their actions and voluntary commitments to the global biodiversity framework.

“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 and actions individually and collectively. We strongly encourage all cities and regions, large and small, no matter where they are on their sustainability journeys, to join us and ensure we bring about the urgent transformative change that is needed!”

The sister platform to CitiesWithNature – RegionsWithNature – which focuses on subnational governments at the regional level and across urban-rural linkages, was officially launched on 12 December at the 7th Summit. During the CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature Announcement Ceremony, eight new subnational governments and two new global partners were welcomed on board.

“Launching RegionsWithNature, together with some of the most powerful subnational  leaders in the world, sends a powerful signal to the planet, and especially to the Parties of the Convention. Subnational governments are committed, they’re ready, and they’re already playing an important role in implementing concrete actions on the ground.”

New cities, regions and partners joining CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature at the 7th Subnational Governments and Cities Summit

NEW CITIES

City of Oakland, USA

City of Santa Monica, USA 

Lake County, USA 

City of Carbondale, USA 

San Francisco, USA

City of Boulder, USA

City of Boston, USA; 

Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue, Canada

City of Laval, Canada; 

Cartagena das Indias, Colombia

Autonomous Decentralised Municipal Government of Pastaza Cantón, Colombia 

Alcaldía de Barranquilla, Colombia 

Metropolitan Area of Aburrá Valley, Colombia

City of Roseau, Dominica 

City of Portsmouth, Dominica

City of Utrecht, Netherlands

City of Paris, France 

City of Marseille, France

Iringa Municipal Council, Tanzania, 

Kisii County, Kenya, 

Tswelopele, South Africa 

Waterberg, South Africa, 

Kampala, Uganda 

Mukono Municipal Council, Uganda, 

The District Council of Black River, Mauritius, 

Hargeisa Municipality, Somalia, 

Chengdu, China

Huzhou, China 

Jiaxing, China 

Kunming, China

Nanyang, China 

Shenzhen, China 

City of Nagoya, Japan

Chiang Mai, Thailand 

Caygan de Ouro, Philippines

Mashhad Municipality, Iran

NEW REGIONS

La Rioja, Spain 

Basque country, Spain

Aland islands in Finland

California in USA

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Paraná in Brazil 

Guanajuato, Mexico 

Jalisco in Mexico

New partners

The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)

WHO (World Health Organization)

CC35 (Capital Cities of the Americas)

CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature:

The Convention on Migratory Species (UN CMS)

R20 (Regions of Climate Action)

"Thank you for being part of the two Platforms, which give us the space to act together. As Nature is our home so are CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature."

Why are CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature important?

Knowledge sharing

CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature provide educational resources to ensure that cities are equipped with the knowledge and understanding of natural resources and ecosystems required to ensure that these issues are included in the cities and regions’ goals and planning. 

One of the primary goals of these platforms is to keep city officials updated on best practices and lessons learned about important biodiversity topics, predominantly through the Tools and Resources section, but also by connecting cities and regions with one another. Connecting subnational and local governments facilitates much-needed collaboration across all levels of government to achieve the biodiversity goals as captured in the newly adopted Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. 

“We need to strengthen our collaboration, our network, our initiative in conservation to maximize the solutions which work, through the platforms CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature.”

With 373 scientifically robust resources – including reports on topics such as nature-based solutions, ecosystems, health and well-being, and biodiversity governance, the Tools & Resources section empowers cities and regions with current and updated information on best practices.

CitiesWithNature offers Guides that package science-based information in a way that is easy to understand and accessible to cities. During COP15, CitiesWithNature announced that its Guide on light pollution, created in collaboration with the UN Convention on Migratory Species, will be launched soon.

In 2022, CitiesWithNature created its first Community of Practice – which is a platform aimed at connecting cities to learn from one another, by predominantly utilizing its chat function. The platform also aims to bring together the broader community of researchers and practitioners to connect with cities to solve biodiversity-related challenges. The first Community of Practice was launched for coastal cities, in collaboration with the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA).

Knowledge sharing has been facilitated through a range of tools and activities including targeted campaigns, news and updates, as well as webinars to empower cities with the knowledge of how to use the Action Platform. CitiesWithNature also uses its newsletter – the Buzz – to keep cities updated with current events, news and important information, while also profiling the achievements of CitiesWithNature cities and RegionsWithNature regions in achieving their biodiversity targets.

During the 7th Summit for Subnational Governments and Cities, Regions4’s Case Study Database, one of RegionsWithNature’s new tools, was  launched. The Database is a freely accessible open source online database that showcases the subnational government experience. Currently eight case studies from six regions – Québec, Catalonia, the Basque  Country,  Lombardy,  Jalisco,  and  Aichi – are available in Spanish, French, and English. Its goal is to build and develop capacities at the regional level of government, transforming on-the-ground knowledge into best practice learning opportunities in support of the implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.

Monitoring and reporting

While RegionsWithNature was only recently launched, CitiesWithNature already has an established range of tools for monitoring and reporting on cities’ biodiversity actions. Notably, the CitiesWithNature Action Platform is used to feed local and subnational level actions for biodiversity into national biodiversity planning. The action areas, commitments, actions and targets are all linked with the Sustainable Development Goals and Global Biodiversity Framework targets to ensure they align with national priorities.

This is supported by the Nature Pathway – guiding cities step by step to promote and mainstream nature into their policy, planning and actions.

During COP15, CitiesWithNature also launched the digitized version of the City Biodiversity Index, also known as the Singapore Index, which is based on the updated version of the CBI handbook. The automated calculations of this digitized version help cities establish a baseline for biodiversity to further monitor and report on their biodiversity, for example by making commitments and setting targets on the Action Platform.

Through this monitoring and reporting function, CitiesWithNature also plays a role in mobilizing the subnational and local governments Major Group by leading and providing support to critical advocacy events such as the 7th Summit and its associated Pavilion at COP15.

“CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature are recognized in the Plan of Action as being the place where subnational governments and cities can report on their commitments towards contributing to national and global biodiversity targets and track their progress, and I am really hoping to see many more commitments made on these platforms.”

To encourage cities to make use of the Action Platform, CitiesWithNature employs a reward system that acknowledges and celebrates cities’ commitments. This includes certificates, reward badges and rankings that appear on City Profiles and can be downloaded as pdfs for cities to share and keep track of their progress.

In addition to all the functionalities mentioned above, CitiesWithNature will also launch its Community and Research Hubs in the near future to further connect cities, researchers and practitioners.

Watch the ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center video featuring voices from across the world calling for cities to become CitiesWithNature here.

Center of Excellence launched at COP15

The ICLEI-Kunming International Center of Excellence for CitiesWithNature, jointly initiated by ICLEI and Kunming City, was formally established at a signing ceremony during the 7th Summit on 12 December. The center is committed to be an important platform for demonstration, peer learning and creating partnerships between Chinese and international cities on nature conservation and biodiversity. It will also help enhance local governments’ technical capacity and encourage local commitment and actions for the implementation of the newly adopted Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. The activities of the center will run in close collaboration with ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center based in Cape Town, South Africa.

World Wetlands Day is celebrated annually on 2 February, in commemoration of the initial signing of the Convention on Wetlands in 1971, in the Iranian city of Ramsar.

This year, the theme is
“It’s time for wetlands restoration” linking two important biodiversity components - wetlands protection and ecosystem restoration.

Wetlands and restoration

Despite being the world’s most productive ecosystems and crucial to human well-being, wetlands continue to experience extremely high rates of decline and degradation: an estimated 35% of wetlands have been lost since the 1970s. To prevent further losses and secure the necessary ecosystem services that wetlands provide – such as water purification, climate change mitigation, food and building materials, and flood control – the restoration of these important inland water and coastal systems are urgently required.

Ecosystem restoration has increasingly become a priority for scientists, politicians, officials and environmental activists in recent years as a critical approach to curb biodiversity loss and promote resilience to climate change. As such, the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, a 10-year push to halt and reverse the decline of the natural world, was launched in 2020. Through this year’s Wetlands Day theme, the UN Convention on Wetlands is calling for global restoration efforts to include the rehabilitation of wetlands.

Restoration acknowledged at high-level UN meetings

In 2022, urban wetlands were recognized as critical to human well-being at the UN Convention on Wetlands’ 14th Conference of Parties. During Ramsar COP14 in Geneva and Wuhan, Parties were called upon to take appropriate and urgent measures to achieve the goal of halting and reversing the loss of wetlands globally. 

Also in 2022, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s 15th Conference of Parties in Montreal and Kunming witnessed the adoption of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, which includes under its Target 2 an aim that, by 2030, at least 30% of areas of degraded terrestrial, inland water, and coastal and marine ecosystems are under effective restoration.

It’s time for restoration of urban wetlands​

The loss of wetlands noted above is particularly prevalent in cities. Urban wetlands are vulnerable to the adverse impacts of urbanization as they tend to be undervalued and therefore often converted or used as dumping grounds. However, while the challenges of urbanization to wetland health are profound, so too are the opportunities for wetland restoration. 

As part of the newly adopted Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework mentioned above, Parties adopted the decision titled Engagement with subnational governments, cities and other local authorities to enhance implementation of the post-2020 Global biodiversity framework and its accompanying revised Plan of Action on Subnational Governments, Cities and Other Local Authorities (2022-2030), which recognizes the vital role that cities and local authorities play in the implementation of the Global Biodiversity Framework – including by restoring urban wetlands and thereby contributing to Target 2. On the CitiesWithNature Action Platform, the CBD-recognized platform for cities to use for monitoring and reporting on their actions for biodiversity, the restoration and protection of urban wetlands can be recorded by Cities under Commitment 1 titled “Protect, Connect and Restore Ecosystems” and specified under two actions: “a) Restore and/or rehabilitate terrestrial, freshwater, and coastal ecosystems” and “(b) Increase protected areas.” 

Globally, cities are increasingly acknowledging the importance of protecting and restoring wetland areas. To acknowledge cities’ significant contributions to take care of valuable urban wetlands, the UN Convention on Wetlands established the Wetland City Accreditation Scheme.

Wetland City Accreditation – Encouraging a positive relationship with urban wetlands

The Wetland City Accreditation (WCA) scheme was launched in 2015 – during the Ramsar Convention on the Conservation of Wetlands  COP12 in Uruguay – with the aim of improving local authority or authorities’ work in conservation and wise use of wetlands. The accredited Wetland Cities are intended to act as models for the study, demonstration and promotion of the Convention on Wetlands’ objectives, approaches, principles and resolutions. Cities become candidates for accreditation by applying to the official call for applications posted here. 

The WCA scheme aims to 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 their importance and participation in municipal planning and decision-making. 

During the Ramsar COP14 in 2022, the second triennium Wetland City Accreditation Awards Ceremony took place to celebrate the accreditation of 25 new cities (listed below). These cities have joined the already existing 18 accredited Wetland cities that have since been tasked to maintain their accreditation.

Wetland City Network and Roundtable of Wetland City Mayors – sharing best practices among decision makers

To further promote the conservation and wise use of urban and peri-urban wetlands, and to share city-level experiences among city leadership, the Roundtable of Wetland City Mayors first took place in 2019, where a Wetland City Network was established to continue the work of the accreditation scheme and enable cities to achieve more and learn from other Wetland Cities. The 2nd Roundtable of Wetland City Mayors will take place in June 2023, in Amiens, France.

The 2022 accredited cities are:

Sackville (Canada)

Sackville was built on/adjacent to saltwater marshes which had been dyked and drained in the 1600s to become freshwater “dykelands”. Since then the Town has undertaken many projects to restore, protect and utilize them, including creating legal restrictions which are supported by laws at all levels of government. The wetlands include the internationally recognized Sackville Waterfowl Park.

Hefei (China)

Hefei has 118,200 ha of wetland area, with a wetland protection rate of 76%. The city has invested in the protection of the Chao Lake area, protecting 10 wetlands covering a total of 100 square kilometers. This has significantly contributed to aquatic ecosystems, water security and quality, and wildlife habitat – up to 562 wetland plant species and 303 bird species. The City’s strategies include nine wetland education centers, wetland protection volunteers and science popularization to enhance residents’ relationship with the wetlands.

Jining (China)

Jining City is known as the “Canal Capital” for its abundant water resources, booming business activities and cultural exchanges. Jining wetlands cover an area of 158,800 ha, with the wetland protection rate reaching 77.38% as a result of the government’s commitment to wetland protection. Nansi Lake and the Grand Canal – designated as a Ramsar site in 2018 – attract millions of migratory birds every year.

Liangping (China)

Lianping’s rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs and small wetlands are protected by the City’s strategy of “comprehensive water management, wetlands nourishing the city”, and its adopted model of “small and micro wetlands construction with ecological conservation, pollution control, organic industry, and natural education”, to benefit the lives of communities surrounding the urban wetlands. 

Nanchang (China)

Nanchang has a wetland area of 153,000 ha, which provides a major habitat for hundreds of thousands of waterfowl globally, and an important wintering place for Siberian white cranes. The City has protected 68% of its wetlands and restored more than 8,000 ha, enhancing the ecological functions of wetlands, the urban living environment, and the socio-economic development of the city.

Panjin (China)

Panjin’s wetland covers 249,600 ha, accounting for 60.8% of the whole area. Its wetland protection rate is 54.6%, with 124,000 ha of wetlands restored since 2018 – benefiting the value of rice, river crab, tourism and other wetland industries. Panjin’s coastal wetlands are home to 477 species of wild animals – including 78 species of national key protected wild animals – and a stopover or destination for millions of migratory birds, including the Saunder’s Gull, Red-crowned Crane and Western Pacific Spotted Seal.

Wuhan (China)

In Wuhan the Yangtze River (the third largest river in the world) meets its largest tributary, the Han River. Endowed with 165 lakes and 166 rivers, Wuhan has abundant wetland resources and a wetland rate of 18.9%. Ecological restoration is secured through legislative protection, ecological compensation, conversion of fish ponds to wetlands, restoration of degraded wetlands, and public participation.

Yangcheng (China)

Yancheng has two Wetlands of International Importance and one coastal wetland World Natural Heritage Site. By 2021, the protection rate of natural wetlands in the city has reached 62%, and the “Yancheng Yellow Sea Wetland ecological restoration case” is renowned for its global nature protection in densely populated and economically developed areas.

Belval-en-Argonne (France)

The Belval-en-Argonne municipality joined forces with several nature protection associations (e.g. Birdlife France), to purchase the ponds of Belval-en-Argonne, which were designated a Regional Nature Reserve in July 2012. Major restoration work on the dykes and sluices has been carried out to better manage the water levels, and a large inventory of ponds and amphibians to create awareness of the site’s biodiversity has been created.

Seltz (France)

Seltz is a European town in the northern Bas-Rhin Department, with a population of 3,400 and home to the Seltz nature reserve: the Sauer Delta. This 486 ha site is remarkable for its botanical richness (including willow beds, mudflats and reedbeds), hydrology and landscapes, as well as ornithology.

Surabaya (Indonesia)

As a result of Surabaya City’s low elevation, many estuarine mangrove and wetland ecosystems have formed, amounting to 1.722,68 km2 of wetland ecosystem (76.51% of the total area 2.251,62 km2). These wetlands are important for bird species, particularly migratory seabirds and shorebirds in the East Asia-Australia Fly Away. Urban planning initiatives, in cooperation with community associations, are addressing challenges such as river and coastal pollution, seasonal water scarcity and urban flooding.

Tanjung Jabung Timur (Indonesia)

Tanjung Jabung is located on the east coast, with its west coast stretching across 12 km of the Sungai Berbak river mouth, and 15 km south of Tanjung Jabung. The city’s mangrove forest fringe ranges from 200-500 m wide and consists mainly of Avicennia marina and Rhizophora species with about 10 species of large waterbirds, including milky storks.

Bandar Khamir (Islamic Republic of Iran)

With the longest wetland coastline in Iran, Bandar Khamir has started a widespread popular movement – comprising events, festivals, educational workshops and numerous learning centers – in recent years for the wise use of the wetland. As a result of increased awareness and education of the value of the wetland and its ecosystem services, the participation and involvement of different groups to protect the wetland has increased.

Varzaneh (Islamic Republic of Iran)

Varzaneh city is located 20 km from Gavkhouni International Wetland which is supplied by the ZayandehRud river that passes through the city. Because of the hot climate of the city, the river and wetlands have benefited residents’ livelihoods, including agriculture, animal husbandry and ecotourism.

Al-Chibayish (Iraq)

Many projects implemented in Al-Chibayish city have contributed to the revival and sustainability of its wetlands. These wetlands support infrastructure and basic services for the local population and economy, in addition to its unique scenery and ecotourism services. The marshes also support a unique cultural heritage that is characterized by its residents and their traditional handicrafts, landscapes and biodiversity – such as buffalo and wild birds.

Izumi (Japan)

Izumi City is known as the largest wintering site of cranes in Japan, where more than 10,000 hooded and 2,000-3,000 white-naped cranes migrate every winter. The wintering habitat comprises mainly rice paddies which have been protected by Japanese policies against development. One of the city’s pillars of city planning includes “A city where human happiness and environmental conservation go together”.

Niigata (Japan)

Niigata recognizes the multifaceted benefits of wetlands near the city and involves their citizens in protection activities – particularly for fisheries – such as including school children for environmental education. The Niigata community has a relationship with the waterfowl, such as swans, that roost in the wetlands at night and feed in the rice paddies of the city area during the day.

Ifrane (Morocco)

Ifrane is located in the heart of the Atlas Cedar Biosphere Reserve, and considered to be the “ecological capital” of the Kingdom of Morocco. The City is working to conserve its urban wetland ecosystems – Lake Zerrouka, the Aïn Vittel springs and Oued Tizguite – through many national regulatory measures and instruments for the protection of wetlands. With its partners, Ifrane Province is a pioneer in the restoration of wetlands by piloting the “Lake Dayet Aoua restoration project”.

Gochang (Republic of Korea)

There are two Ramsar wetlands in Gochang, both protected under the National Wetlands Protection Act. Gochang has restored the paddy fields since 2017, and restored the brackish water zone between 2016 to 2020. The area is surrounded by ecotourism activities, such as the open market, and educational programs that are creating awareness among the communities of the importance of restoring wetlands. 

Seocheon (Republic of Korea)

The Seocheon Getbol wetland reserve – a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site – is a designated migratory route for migratory birds between East Asia and Oceania, and home to 19 endemic species and three endangered invertebrates, supporting 100 species of waterfowl. The Seocheon County Ordinance operates the Wetlands Protection Committee, a public-private joint organization, to systematically preserve and manage wetlands through monitoring, restoration and waste collection.

Seogwipo (Republic of Korea)

The Mulyeongari Oreum Wetland in Seogwipo City is home to 15 endangered species of living organisms. Ecological specialists and local residents in Seogwipo City perform extensive ecological monitoring on a regular basis to protect the Mulyeongari Oreum Wetland.

Kigali (Rwanda)

The Kigali Wetlands have been threatened by human activities such as agriculture, human settlements, commercial and industrial activities – decreasing their capacity for flood and pollution abatement. In response, the City is implementing strategic ecological rehabilitation solutions such as the Kigali wetland masterplan, which supports the efficient and sustainable management and use of wetlands. As a result, all business activities inside wetlands were evacuated; Nyandungu wetland (121.7ha) was transformed into a recreational eco-park; and a study to rehabilitate five wetlands that cover 480 ha has been conducted to contribute to its Vision 2050 of developing a Green City.

Cape Town (South Africa)

Cape Town is a coastal city with numerous wetlands and is a recognized global biodiversity hotspot. The City aims to mitigate wetland damage through innovative policies and plans, wetland offset projects, best-practice wetland management and restoration, people and conservation programmes, skills development, job creation, plus the Mayor’s priority water quality programme addressing impacts to and rehabilitation of the City’s larger wetlands.

Valencia (Spain)

L’Albufera de València is a wetland culturally linked to the community’s heritage, including traditional fishing and rice cultivation. Since the 1970s, Valencia’s City Council has played a fundamental role in the site protection and planning, which has resulted in the lagoon and coastal forest being declared a Natural Park in 1986. In 1982, the Devesa-Albufera Municipal Service was created, responsible for the development of plans and projects for the conservation and restoration of the wetland.

Sri Songkhram District (Thailand)

The Songkhram River has a basin of 6,473.27 km2 and is an important tributary of the Mekong River. About 54.2% of the overall Songkhram Basin may be classified as “wetlands”, which are significant as a capture fishery providing seasonal employment, income and food to thousands of households. Other products are also sourced from the wetlands by local residents (e.g. mushrooms, bamboo shoots, wild vegetables and reeds). The wetlands, declared as a Ramsar site, are protected as a “community forest” on both sides of the Songkhram River, set up by Thailand’s Royal Forest Department.

ICLEI’s role as partner to the Convention

The Independent Advisory Committee (IAC) governs the Wetland City Accreditation Scheme. This committee reviews the Wetland City Accreditation applications from candidate cities and reports its decision to the Standing Committee of the Convention. ICLEI, along the Convention on Wetlands’ International Organization Partners, promotes the Wetland City Accreditation Scheme and local efforts to gain and maintain its branding. Through ICLEI’s city networks and CitiesWithNature platform, it is well positioned to promote the Wetland City Accreditation brand. During the second triennium from 2019 until 2022, ICLEI has been serving as Co-chair of the IAC, 25 more cities were accredited and they received their award during an Award Ceremony at COP14 in Geneva in 2022.

In the build-up to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) COP15 – which will take place in Montreal from 7-19 December 2022 – ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center, in collaboration with ICLEI’s regional offices, provided capacity-building webinars to demonstrate uploading actions and commitments to the CitiesWithNature Action Platform, recognized in the Plan of Action on Subnational Governments, Cities and Other Local Authorities for Biodiversity (2021-2030). 

 

The road to COP 15 is a crucial moment for local and subnational governments to demonstrate their commitments to actions that will contribute to the successful implementation of the new global biodiversity framework (GBF) and its targets. As a result, the CitiesWithNature Action Platform webinars not only trained cities across the world on using the platform, but also explained the importance of their engagement and participation in the platform in the build-up to COP15. 

The CitiesWithNature team that served as recurring speakers in all the webinars are:

 

Ingrid Coetzee
Director Biodiversity, Nature & Health, ICLEI Africa

 

Stefania Romano
Senior Professional Officer – Global CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature Coordinator: Recruitment and Advocacy

 

Willemien Calitz
Communications Officer

 

Jade Sullivan
Professional Officer: Biodiversity, Nature & Health

 

USA RO Speakers:

Calyn Hart
Program Officer, ICLEI USA

Southeast Asia RO Speakers:

Russel James Andrade
Biodiversity Focal for ICLEI Southeast Asia; Project Assistant

Victorino Aquitania
Regional Director ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability Southeast Asia Secretariat

Dr. Rajan Chedambath
Director: The Kochi Municipal Corporation and the Centre for Heritage, Environment and Development
Puerto Princesa City

Dr. Lena Chan
Senior Director of the International Biodiversity Conservation Division, National Parks Board (NParks) of Singapore

SAMS & MECS SAMS (Portuguese)

Speakers:

Marília Israel de Azevedo Borges
Biodiversity Analyst at ICLEI South America

Rodrigo Corradi
Deputy Executive Secretary at ICLEI South America

Oliver Hillel
Programme Officer at the Secretariat of the Convention on Biodiversity

Bianca Cantoni Coutinho
Advocacy Officer at ICLEI South America

Jaime Holguin
Representative of the Development Bank of Latin America (CAF)

Luciano Paes
Secretary of Climate of Niterói

Gabriel Neves
Municipal Secretary of Green, Environment and Sustainable Development
Municipal Government of Campinas

Leta Vieira
Technical Regional Manager: Low-Carbon, Resilience, Biodiversity and Circular Development, ICLEI



ICLEI SAMS (MECS)

Speakers:

Ivana Del Río
Technical Secretariat - ICLEI Mexico

Maria Mejia
Lead - BiodiverCities by 2030 Initiative at Instituto de Investigación de Recursos Biológicos

Óscar Figueredo
Bucaramanga Metropolitan Area, Colombia

Paulina Soto
Director of Programmes and Projects

Sergio Aranguren
Biodiversity Coordinator, ICLEI

Braulio Diaz
Institutional Relations and Advocacy Regional Manager, ICLEI

Oceania RO Speakers:

Steve Gawler
Regional Director ICLEI Oceania

Cr Amanda Stone
Councillor, Yarra City Council, Australia, ICLEI Global Executive Committee Member and ICLEI Oceania Regional Executive Committee

Helaine Stanley
Program Advisor CWN Academy

Nadine Gaskell
Biodiversity Coordinator, City of Knox

European RO Speakers:

Shreya Utkarsh
Officer: Sustainable Resources, Climate and Resilience

Gillian Dick
Spatial Planning Manager – Research & Development Development Plan Group Neighbourhoods, Regeneration & Sustainability, Glasgow City Council

Marta Mansanet Cánovas
Policy Officer: European Committee of the Regions

Holger Robrecht
Deputy Regional Director of Sustainable Resources, Climate and Resilience


Africa RO Speakers:

Bronwen Griffiths
Head: Sustainable Partnerships & Financing, Spatial Planning & Environment: Environmental Management Department, City of Cape Town

Alex Kivumbi
Principal Community Development Officer, Makindye Ssabagabo, Uganda

MEDIA RELEASE

ICLEI, together with its partners, invites subnational and local governments to Montréal, Québec, Canada for the 7th Summit for Subnational Governments and Cities and its associated Pavilion. The Summit, an official parallel event to the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP 15) to the CBD, will be co-hosted with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD) and Regions4, along with the host Government of Québec and the City of Montréal. Both the Summit and the Pavilion are financially supported by the Government of Québec as main sponsor.

For the first time at a CBD COP, there will be a dedicated Pavilion, focusing on subnational government and city actions and opportunities. This clearly demonstrates an elevated recognition and the biodiversity community of the significant contributions of local and subnational governments towards the implementation of the global biodiversity framework (GBF).

Image provided by: Ezjay/Shutterstock.com

"It is with great pride that we welcome you to Québec for the 15th Conference of the Parties on Biological Diversity. Through its role as coordinator of the Advisory Committee on Subnational Governments and Biodiversity together with Regions4, Québec is committed to doing everything possible to promote the adoption of an ambitious Global Biodiversity Framework which, we hope, will pave the way for a new era of collaboration. We invite subnational you to participate in large numbers in the 7th Summit for Subnational Governments and Cities and to make your voice heard at this historic meeting."

The Summit and Pavilion constitute an unprecedented global milestone to welcome significantly strengthened contributions from subnational governments and cities to the new post-2020 GBF. The Summit, focused on taking action for biodiversity, will be held on 11th and 12th December 2022 at the Palais des Congrès (blue zone) and will center around three elements: Engage, Influence and Act.

The Pavilion program will include multiple events, from 8th to 18th December, during COP 15.

“Cities are essential leaders in the fight against climate change, the protection of biodiversity and the adaptability of our territories. They already experience the impact of environmental issues, they understand the major challenges that lie ahead, as well as the solutions to be implemented. As the mayor of Montréal and ICLEI global ambassador for local biodiversity, I am very happy to welcome the 7th Summit for Subnational Governments & Cities: Taking Action for Biodiversity.”

This 7th Summit will provide a unique opportunity to address the targets and actions of the new GBF such as reducing threats to biodiversity, meeting people’s needs through sustainable use and benefit-sharing of biodiversity and ecosystem services, as well as implementing local and regional tools and solutions. The Summit is dedicated to taking action and making commitments, with subnational governments and cities sharing and demonstrating inspirational biodiversity initiatives, solutions and achievements, and pivoting combined multi-level ambitions and engagement into measurable actions. The outcome of this historic, action-oriented Summit will be presented formally by the hosts to the CBD COP 15 High Level Segment as a united message from the subnational constituency.

“As we approach COP 15 in Montréal this December, I am encouraged by the decision-makers of such authorities who are transforming the ways in which our economies affect biodiversity and move us towards whole-of-government, whole-of-society, approaches to ensure a sustainable future."

The Summit will announce, solidify and celebrate subnational and local actions for the protection, restoration and enhancement of biodiversity across the world, actions that reconnect communities with nature for a more sustainable future. It will present new projects and multilateral announcements, and profile initiatives such as the global CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature partnership, which provide a platform for local and subnational governments to commit and share their ambitious actions and initiatives for and with nature, in measurable ways.

“Our planet can no longer support the inefficient misuse and management of our natural resources. The loss of biodiversity across the globe is inextricably linked to the acceleration of the climate crisis and the nature-based systems we rely on to help sustain our communities and way of life. Local governments will no longer tolerate being forced to confront this climate emergency alone. We should join CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature to convene and share our actions across all levels of government. And we should show the leadership needed in this now-or-never moment to safeguard a biodiverse, 1.5-degree world where all life can thrive. Together, we welcome a strong framework coming out of the UN Biodiversity COP15 conference to give us the momentum and guidance to act.”

The 7th Global Summit is convened by ICLEI, and co-hosted with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD) and Regions4, along with the host Government of Québec and the City of Montréal.  This milestone Summit and Pavilion are supported by the Government of Québec, as main sponsor, and will welcome Parties, subnational governments, cities, their leaders, networks and partners from across the world to contribute and actively participate – in person or virtually.

COP 15 is hosted by the Government of China, and as the province of Yunnan, Kunming City, and China Environment News, in coordination with ICLEI East Asia Secretariat and the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of China, have contributed to the COP since its first phase, their role is acknowledged as supporting institutions to the 7th Summit.

Summit registrations are open at cbc.iclei.org or email biodiversity@iclei.org for more information.

Images provided by: Ville de Montréal

On the road to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) COP15 – which will take place in Montreal from 7-19 December 2022 – ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center, in collaboration with ICLEI’s regional offices, is providing capacity-building webinars to demonstrate uploading actions and commitments to the CitiesWithNature Action Platform, recognized in the Plan of Action on Subnational Governments, Cities and Other Local Authorities for Biodiversity (2021-2030). 

By enabling and supporting local and subnational governments to achieve the global nature goals and their commitments for nature, the Action Platform is intended to align with, and feed into, the National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) and National Reports to the CBD of countries that have ratified the Convention. 

With COP 15 around the corner, it is a crucial moment for local and subnational governments to demonstrate their commitments to actions that will contribute to the successful implementation of the new global biodiversity framework (GBF) and its targets. As a result, our Action Platform demonstration webinars aim to assist cities worldwide with using the tool as optimally as possible.

We have set up a range of webinars by region, as shown in the table below. For more information, contact the ICLEI Regional Officer of your region, as indicated in the table.

 We welcome you to participate in the webinar and join the concerted efforts for living in harmony with nature. 

USA RO Kale Roberts - kale.roberts@iclei.org
Calyn Hart - calyn.hart@iclei.org
Anne Marie Cleary Rauker - am.clearyrauker@iclei.org

October 26, 5.30 - 7.00pm SAST time | 11.30am (New York time)

Southeast Asia RO Russel James Andrade - russel.andrade@iclei.org

October 21, 8.30am (CEST time) | 2.30pm (Manila time)

South Asia Monalisa Sen - monalisa.sen@iclei.org
SAMS & MECS SAMS, Brazilian Municipalities

Bráulio Dias - braulio.diaz@iclei.org
Leta Vieira - leta.vieira@iclei.org
Marília Israel - marilia.israel@iclei.org
Bianca Cantoni - bianca.cantoni@iclei.org

One webinar with SAMS - only Portuguese speaking municipalities

October 13, 3 - 4.30pm CEST | 10 - 11.30am (Brasília)



SAMS and MECS for Spanish speaking municipalities Ecuador, Colombia, Amazonian areas, Perú, Mexico

Bráulio Dias - braulio.diaz@iclei.org
Leta Vieira - leta.vieira@iclei.org
Marília Israel de Azevedo Borges - marilia.israel@iclei.org
Bianca Cantoni - bianca.cantoni@iclei.org
Sergio Aranguren - sergio.aranguren@iclei.org
Ivana del Río Benítez - ivana.del.rio@iclei.org

October 25, 4.00 - 5.30pm CEST time | 10 - 11.30am (Mexico time)

Oceania RO Steve Gawler - steve.gawler@iclei.org

October 19, 7.30 am SAST time | 4.30 pm AEST

European RO Shreya Utkarsh - shreya.utkarsh@iclei.org
Alice Reil - alice.reil@iclei.org

October 18, 2 - 3:30pm CET


Canada RO Megan Meaney - megan.meaney@iclei.org
Anne Marie - anne-marie.legault@iclei.org

November 30, in English 7 - 8.30pm SAST


November 29, in French 7 - 8.30pm SAST

Africa RO Tarryn Quayle - tarryn.quayle@iclei.org
Uganda, Kisumu (Kenya), Ghana (Cape Coast City) and Quelimane and Nacala in Mozambique

Paul Currie - paul.currie@iclei.org
Madagascar

Kate Strachan - kate.strachan@iclei.org
Mozambique

Nelson de Lamare - nelson.de.lamare@iclei.org
Senegal and Burkina Faso

Ernita Van Wyk - ernita.van.wyk@iclei.org
Tanzania

Vanessa Tshite - vanessa.tshite@iclei.org
Bongiwe Simka - bongiwe.simka@iclei.org
Sierra Leone

November 2, 2 - 3.30pm SAST time

East Asia RO Shu Zhu - Shu.Zhu@iclei.org
Ge Liu - ge.liu@iclei.org
Japan Togo Uchida - togo.uchida@iclei.org
Tomoya Taniguchi - Tomoya.Taniguchi@iclei.org

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. 

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

Delegates worked on the text from the OEWG-3 meetings in Geneva in March, and rationalized parts of it, achieved consensus on several targets, and proposed diverse options for large parts of the framework. 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 further 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. 

Although discussions covered the entire framework text – which includes four goals and 23 proposed targets – four important goals of the framework (A through D) were 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.

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I want to thank the Parties for their hard work, their commitment to consensus, and honest engagement in these negotiations. 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.

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

Despite the important contributions of OEWG-4, a considerable amount of work will be required to advance the text for final high-level consideration by the Parties at COP 15. The OEWG-4 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 – culminating in OEWG-5 – would prepare a text for final negotiation by Ministers and their delegations at the second part of COP 15.

The relocation and new date for COP 15 Part 2 was announced during the opening plenary, following consultations between the Bureau, the Government of China as COP President, the Secretariat and the Government of Canada as host of the Secretariat. COP 15 Part 2 will be held in Montreal, Canada at the seat of the Secretariat, from 5 to 17 December 2022. China, as COP 15 President, will continue to preside over the Meetings, with the logo and the theme of COP 15 maintained. China will also convene the High-Level Segment and lead the facilitation of negotiations. 

COP 15 and the 7th Global Biodiversity Summit of Cities and Subnational Governments will be a global milestone to welcome a stronger contribution of local and subnational governments in the post-2020 GBF. It will be a strategic and historic moment for the local and subnational major group, which is calling for CBD Parties to adopt a renewed decision on engagement with subnational governments, cities and other local authorities to enhance implementation of the post-2020 GBF, and its Plan of Action on Subnational Governments, Cities and Other Local Authorities for Biodiversity (2021-2030). No information or decision has been communicated around the status of official parallel events, including the 7th Cities Summit, but announcements will follow shortly based on discussions between the SCBD and the Canadian government.

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.

The UN Ocean Conference, co-hosted by the Governments of Kenya and Portugal, took place between 27 June and 1 July 2022 in Lisbon, Portugal, and culminated in delegates adopting a political declaration titled ‘Our Ocean, Our Future, Our Responsibility’. 

The conference brought together national and local governments, UN agencies, and multiple stakeholders across different sectors to explore and identify solutions aimed at finding major structural transformations and common shared solutions, to be anchored in the SDGs. 

Under the theme ‘Scaling up ocean action based on science and innovation for the implementation of Goal 14: stocktaking, partnerships and solutions’, discussions focused on leveraging interlinkages between Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14 – Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development) and other SDGs towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Throughout the conference, the linkages between SDG 14 and goals related to clean water and sanitation, poverty, food security, health, women, decent work, climate action, cities, terrestrial ecosystems, and partnerships were emphasized.

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Jessie Turner, Director of the International Alliance to Combat Ocean Acidification (OA Alliance) captured the importance of urgent action for oceans: “When talking about climate change impacts on our ocean, we must be clear that while we don’t know everything, we know enough to act. We know enough to begin prioritizing and exploring the key questions that are most important to policy makers, seafood industries and coastal communities. And the good news is…we have lots of existing frameworks across different scales of governance that can be leveraged to take up this work.”

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability and ICLEI’s Cities Biodiversity Center was represented by Kate Strachan – Manager, Climate Change Resilience, ICLEI Africa, and Stefania Romano – Global Coordinator for CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature, Recruitment and Advocacy.

During an interactive dialogue titled ‘Leveraging interlinkages between Sustainable Development Goal 14 and other Goals towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda’, ICLEI emphasized the need for cities to learn from one another and apply these lessons and practices to protect, manage and restore vulnerable urban coastal ecosystems. To achieve this, CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature are international partnership initiatives providing a platform to connect local and subnational governments globally with NGOs, experts and communities to act for 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.

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“It has never been as urgent as it is today to restore damaged ecosystems,” Stefania said. “SDG 14 offers a great opportunity to advance ocean sustainability globally and address current and emerging threats.” The goal is underpinned by targets addressing the conservation and sustainable use of the ocean, seas and marine resources – including coastal zones – and capacity building for ocean governance. In addition, SDG 14 supports the achievement of SDGs related to poverty alleviation, food security, sustainable blue/ocean economy, and climate change. 

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. 

Matosinhos side-event

Prior to the official Conference, a Special Event on ‘Localizing Ocean Action’ was held in Matosinhos (Porto) on 25 of July, convened by the co-hosts of the 2022 UN Ocean Conference, together with the City of Matosinhos, and organized in collaboration with UN DESA, UN Global Compact, the Climate Champions Team, the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments, ICLEI, Regions4 Sustainable Development, Ocean & Climate Platform (OCP), United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), Resilient Cities Network, the International Association of Cities & Ports (AIVP) and OECD. The special session highlighted urban-ocean linkages, specifically around marine plastic pollution, blue finance, local community development, human rights-based approaches towards transformation, and SDG 14 and the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. The special event also covered the role of local and regional governments to engage in global efforts and decisions to protect the ocean and maritime resources. The outcomes from the special event were conveyed during the main UN Ocean Conference.  

ICLEI and the OCP co-organized Local Ocean Action Session 1, titled ‘The clock is ticking: How can coastal cities build resilience and incorporate nature-based solutions to protect local populations?’ This session focused on the importance of investing in innovative sustainable solutions, particularly nature-based ones, to combat the impacts of climate change, such as flooding, coastal erosion and rising sea levels. Speakers were invited to share innovative practices implemented by cities and regions. The panel was moderated by Kate Strachan, while Stefania Romano presented CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature as the Convention on Biological Diversity-recognized international partnership initiatives providing a platform and connecting local and subnational governments acting for nature. The side-event resulted in the Municipality of Matosinhos joining CitiesWithNature.

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.

ICLEI in collaboration with Regions4, the Government of Catalonia, UCLG, and the Global Taskforce of Local and Regional Governments co-organized session 3: ‘Strengthening Cooperation, Building Innovative Governance Approaches to protect the ocean. Finding solutions to the complex and multi-dimensional sustainability challenges faced by coastal areas, which are aggravated by climate change, requires an inclusive and innovative governance approach. Building on the previous sessions that focused on impacts and finance, this session focused on governance as a core condition for the implementation of SDG14. 

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 planningfinancing, 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.