Significant recognition for cities and subnational governments at COP 15: Announcing the 7th Summit for Subnational Governments and Cities and its associated Pavilion

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."

Jean Lemire, Envoy for Climate Change, Northern and Arctic Affairs
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.”

Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montréal & ICLEI global ambassador for local 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."

Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

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.”

Mayor Frank Cownie, City of Des Moines, Iowa & President of ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability.

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

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.

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

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.

On 18 July, renowned Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti took CitiesWithNature – the global urban nature partnership initiative – to the stars, by posting a tweet from SPACE to highlight the importance of urban biodiversity and ecosystem restoration.

About AstroSamantha

Samantha Cristoforetti, aka AstroSamantha, is a renowned Italian astronaut in the European Space Agency. In 2001, Samantha joined the Italian Air Force, and was selected as a European Space Agency astronaut in May 2009. On 23 November 2014, Samantha was launched from the cosmodrome of Baikonur in Kazakhstan, and returned to Earth on 11 June 2015, after spending 200 days in space. The mission, which was given the name Futura, was the second long-duration flight opportunity for the Italian Space Agency, and the eighth for an ESA astronaut.

In 2019, Samantha served as commander for NASA’s 23rd Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO23) mission during a 10-day stay in the world’s only undersea research station, Aquarius. Samantha returned to the International Space Station for her second mission, Minerva, on 27 April 2022. She was launched in a new SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule named Freedom alongside her Crew-4 crew mates, NASA astronauts Bob “Farmer” Hines, Kjell Lindgren and Jessica “Watty” Watkins.

Samantha is a UNICEF ambassador and donates to UNICEF the proceeds from sales of her memoir Diary of an Apprentice Astronaut, in which she shares her experience of being selected as an astronaut and then training for and flying her first space mission.

AstroSamantha called for proposals on impactful biodiversity and ecosystem restoration work across the globe that is visible from SPACE so that she could highlight the value of nature and the importance of protecting biodiversity during her mission. ICLEI partnered with the City of Cape Town, a long-standing Member and pioneer CitiesWithNature city, and asked AstroSamantha to feature the incredible work that is being done in the Blaauwberg Nature Reserve, while also calling on all cities to join CitiesWithNature and strengthen action through collaboration! On 18 July, the following Tweet circulated the globe, directly from Mission Minerva, reaching AstroSamantha’s 989.6k followers:

The space-based tweet highlighted the progress made through the Blaauwberg Large-scale Sand Fynbos Restoration Project in Cape Town. Cape Town is the most biodiverse city in the world, famous for its amazing variety of plants, collectively known as Fynbos. Cape Flats Sand Fynbos is a critically endangered habitat type, intrinsically rich in biodiversity, and found only within the city. The area being restored in Blaauwberg Nature Reserve was highly degraded and covered in dense woody alien invasive species. Besides having immense ecological importance, this area is also historically and socially significant. This restoration project is a prime example of collaboration and co-learning between researchers at a local university and City of Cape Town management, with external funders. Besides its ecological successes and lessons learnt, this project has produced a range of research projects and scientific papers on the various methodologies tested and employed, making it a great case study for other cities across the globe. The restoration project started in 2012 and is ongoing.

Why urban ecosystem restoration?

The total area covered by the world’s cities is set to triple in the next 40 years as millions of people continue to move into cities each week. Cities, regions and towns can control the way they change and grow, through a nature-positive approach. Collaboration across cities globally, and with all stakeholders, are essential to protecting biodiversity, restoring ecosystems, providing safe and accessible green open spaces, and reconnecting people with nature. CitiesWithNature, like Cape Town, are reaching for the stars and leading the way in restoring biodiversity and reconnecting their communities with nature. Restoring biodiversity can restore hope, and will help make cities sustainable and resilient through the ecosystem services provided by nature. Cape Town is one of the first hundred pioneer cities of the global CitiesWithNature initiative – which has now reached over 200 cities committed #ForNature. CitiesWithNature provides the UN Biodiversity-recognized platform that secures collaboration to strengthen the necessary actions to ensure that we have a bright, green future at peace with nature.

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.

RegionsWithNature welcomes subnational governments and partners to our webinar on 13 July. Regions, provinces, prefectures or departments that have already joined RegionsWithNature are invited, as well as other regional/subnational governments and partners that would be interested in joining.

 

Wednesday, July 13, 15:00 – 16:30 CEST
Other time zones: 08:00 Mexico / 09:00 Quebec / 10:00 São Paulo / 22:00 Aichi

 

The webinar aims not only to keep you updated about RegionsWithNature developments, but also to gather your suggestions, comments and needs/requests for forging the platform accordingly.

We will also present specific case studies on nature work (including on ecological infrastructure, biodiversity management, and restoration) from the Scottish and the Yucatán Governments.

Please contact Stefania Romano at stefania.romano@iclei.org for more information.

Governments converge towards consensus for key elements of the Global Biodiversity Framework to safeguard nature 

Good progress made on issue of Digital Sequence Information 

A process will be developed to advance discussions before COP 15 

With six days of negotiations behind them in Nairobi, Kenya, Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity advanced a global plan to bend the curve on biodiversity loss, expected to be adopted in Montreal, Canada in December 2022. 

Delegates took the text from the March meetings held in Geneva, 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 also strengthened the role of Indigenous peoples, local communities, women, youth, and other stakeholders and to ensure that all voices will be heard, and no one will be left behind. “I want to thank the Parties for their hard work, their commitment to consensus, and honest engagement in these negotiations” said Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity. “These efforts are considerable and have produced a text that, with additional work, will be the basis for reaching the 2050 vision of the Convention: a life in harmony with nature.” “I call upon the Parties, in the next months, to vigorously engage with the text, to listen to each other and seek consensus, and to prepare the final text for adoption at COP 15” she said. 

Images courtesy of WWF

Discussions over the week covered the entire framework text, which includes 4 goals, 23 proposed targets, and all of the elements that will enable nations to meet them. Delegates also made progress on the issue of Digital Sequence Information; a separate agenda item related to the framework. 

The important four goals of the framework – A through D, were also a subject of intense discussion: 

Goal A – protecting biodiversity at all levels and preventing extinctions; 

Goal B – ensuring that biodiversity can meet people’s needs and support their human rights;

Goal C – benefits from the use of biodiversity and genetic resources are shared with equity and the traditional knowledge and rights of Indigenous and Local Communities are respected; and 

Goal D – Adequate level of the means of implementation are enabled, including financial resources, capacity building and other supports to action. 

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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.

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

A path for work towards COP 15 in Montreal, Canada in December 2022 

Notwithstanding the important advances, a considerable amount of work will be required to advance the text for final high-level consideration by CBD’s 196 Parties at COP15. The Meeting agreed to develop a path forward that includes the engagement of all regions preparing for talks involving all Parties immediately before the second part COP 15. These gatherings would prepare a text for final negotiation by Ministers and their delegations at the second part of COP 15. 

The upcoming UN Biodiversity Conference will be held from 5 to 17 December in Montreal, Canada, under the presidency of the Government of China

The Conference will comprise: 

  • the 15th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity;
  • the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety; and
  • the 4th meeting of the Conference of the Parties serving as the meeting of the Parties to the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing.

About the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) 

Opened for signature in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, and entering into force in December 1993, the CBD is an international treaty for the conservation of biodiversity, the sustainable use of the components of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of the benefits derived from the use of genetic resources. With 196 Parties, the CBD has near universal participation among countries. The CBD seeks to address all threats to biodiversity and ecosystem services, including threats from climate change, through scientific assessments, the development of tools, incentives and processes, the transfer of technologies and good practices and the full and active involvement of relevant stakeholders including indigenous peoples and local communities, youth, women, NGOs, sub-national actors and the business community. The Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-Sharing are supplementary agreements to the CBD. The Cartagena Protocol, which entered into force 11 September 2003, seeks to protect biodiversity from the potential risks posed by living modified organisms resulting from modern biotechnology. To date, 173 Parties have ratified the Cartagena Protocol. The Nagoya Protocol aims at sharing the benefits arising from the utilization of genetic resources in a fair and equitable way, including by appropriate access to genetic resources and by appropriate transfer of relevant technologies. Entering into force 12 October 2014, it has been ratified by 135 Parties. 

 

More information: David Ainsworth, Information Officer, david.ainsworth@un.org

Terry Collins, tc@tca.tc

Franca D’Amico, franca.damico@un.org 

Website: cbd.int

Twitter: @UNBiodiversity 

Facebook: www.facebook.com/UNBiodiversityConvention 

LinkedIn: linkedin.com/company/unbiodiversity CBD Live

Kunming, China, has become the 244th signatory to the Edinburgh Declaration, a statement of intent that has been agreed between subnational and local governments across the world and calls on Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) to take bold action to halt biodiversity loss.

The Scottish Government, with support from a wide range of partner organizations, proudly hosted the Edinburgh Process for Subnational and Local Governments on the Development of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, which began towards the end of April 2020.

The Edinburgh Process brought together delegates from across the world representing all levels of governments, including strong representation from subnational and local governments, as well as indigenous people and local communities, women, youth, NGOs and the business community.

The Edinburgh Declaration for subnational governments, cities and local authorities on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, sets out the aspirations and commitments of local and subnational governments for the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, to work alongside CBD Parties in taking transformative actions for nature over the coming decade, to deliver the 2050 vision of ‘living in harmony with nature.’

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I am delighted that the Mayor of Kunming,


has signed the

Edinburgh Declaration –


cementing their commitment to delivering the

post-2020 global biodiversity framework


and joining the call for bold, transformative action to halt biodiversity loss across the globe.

~ Lorna Slater, Scottish Government Minister for Biodiversity Tweet

The Edinburgh Declaration also calls for greater prominence to be given to the role that subnational and local governments play in delivering a new global framework of targets and affirms their readiness to meet this challenge.

More specifically, subnational and local governments are calling on CBD Parties to support the adoption at COP15, of a new dedicated decision for the greater inclusion of subnational and local governments within the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

The Edinburgh Process Partners include the Welsh Government, the UK Government Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), European Committee of the Regions (CoR), ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, the Government of Quebec, Regions4 Sustainable Development, Group of Leading Subnational governments toward Aichi Biodiversity Targets (GoLS), with support from the UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), NatureScot, and the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE).

CitiesWithNature/RegionsWithNature warmly welcomes its newest member to the family, the European Committee of the Regions!

ICLEI, one of the founding members of the CitiesWithNature/RegionsWithNature platform, has been working in close collaboration with the EU CoR for a long time. ICLEI Europe particularly, has played the strong role of supporting the EU CoR in delivering opinions on Biodiversity in relation to the Post 2020 GBF. There have been multiple arenas where ICLEI Europe and EU CoR have joined forces and one prominent example is the Edinburgh Declaration, where EU CoR participates in regular strategic meetings to further the progress on the commitments from the various signatories to the Edinburgh Declaration. 

Building on this strong foundation, ICLEI invited the Committee of the Regions to become a partner to the RegionsWithNature platform. RegionsWithNature aims to strengthen the voice of the regional authorities in the scope of biodiversity and nature-based solutions and make it heard at the national and international levels. By joining RegionsWithNature, CoR unites with ICLEI, Regions4, the Group of Leading Subnational Governments (GoLS), IUCN and other international organizations. RegionsWithNature is also supported by the UN Environment Programme and the Secretariat of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, with numerous regional and subnational governments already on board, including Yucatán and Campeche in Mexico, São Paulo and Pernambuco in Brazil, Goa in India, the Community of Madrid and Catalonia in Spain, the Western Cape Province in South Africa, Québec in Canada and Scotland in the UK.

We are honored to welcome the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) into the RegionsWithNature initiative and platform, under our shared missions of connecting urban planning and biodiversity conservation.

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Now that there is already a growing momentum towards addressing the climate emergency with the biodiversity crisis in close conjunction, we are delighted to welcome the voice of the European regions through the Committee of the Regions to the RegionsWithNature family.

We are certain that in the context of RegionsWithNature, where there are prominent advocates of strong commitments and pro-active contributions towards more biodiversity in cities and regions such as ICLEI, Regions4, GoLs and IUCN, this partnership will bear fruitful outcomes and greater impacts for the benefit of human and nature.

~ Kobie Brand, ICLEI CBC Director and Deputy Secretary General of ICLEI Tweet

While CoR is the voice of regions and cities in the European Union (EU), RegionswithNature brings together regional and subnational leaders and their partners from around the world, providing access to tools and resources on nature-based solutions, ecosystem restoration, and biodiversity conservation, and sharing regional commitments to achieving global nature goals.

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Local and sub-national governments are at the forefront of implementing measures to tackle biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation.

This is why the European Committee of the Regions, as the European Union's assembly of regional and local representatives, strongly supports the objectives of RegionsWithNature. This global platform is an essential tool to showcase regional commitments towards achieving national and global biodiversity targets, with the aim of bolstering regional governments' nature ambitions and ensuring that multi-level governance opportunities for action are maximised.

~ Roby Biwer, member of the Bettembourg municipal council (Luxembourg) and rapporteur for EU CoR opinions on biodiversity and nature restoration Tweet

The path ahead, to meet the demands of the biodiversity agenda specifically the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, is ambitious and demanding. Promising outcomes for Europe and the world in halting biodiversity loss and restoring ecosystems on a large scale requires inclusive partnerships built upon shared principles and values for implementing concerted and successful actions. Thus, with EU CoR committing to take an active role in the global biodiversity arena by joining RegionsWithNature, we are certain that we are on the right track with collective strong ambitions to make a positive change.

Urbanization is one of the key defining mega-trends of our time. Four billion people, about half of the world’s population, currently live in urban areas. This number is expected to dramatically increase with the predicted rise in urbanization rates. According to The Nature in the Urban Century report, authored by The Nature Conservancy, Future Earth and The Stockholm Resilience Centre, by 2050, there will be 2.4 billion more people in cities, a rate of urban growth that is equivalent to building a city the population of London every seven weeks. Humanity will urbanize an additional area of 1.2 million km2, larger than the country of Colombia.

The report also found that if current trends continue over the next two decades, urban growth will threaten more than 290,000 km2 of habitat — an area larger than New Zealand. Protected lands are increasingly in close proximity to cities, with 40% of strictly protected areas anticipated to be within 50 km of a city by 2030.

The urbanization trend poses a major threat to several critical ecosystems, including wetlands. Wetlands can play a crucial role in urban biodiversity, and in maintaining ecosystems and the well-being of urban communities. When preserved and sustainably used, urban wetlands can provide cities with multiple economic, social and cultural benefits. During storms, urban wetlands absorb excess rainfall, which reduces flooding in cities and prevents disasters and their subsequent costs. The abundant vegetation found in urban wetlands acts as a filter for domestic and industrial waste and contribute to improving water quality.

As cities grow and the demand for land use increases, the tendency is for development to encroach on wetlands, because they are often perceived as wastelands that can be used as dumping grounds or converted for other land uses.

Urban wetlands are prized assets, not wasteland, and therefore should be proactively conserved and integrated into the development and management plans of cities. The Convention on Wetlands (also known as the Ramsar Convention) is promoting cities that take exceptional steps to protect their wetlands and benefits to people, by giving credit to cities that prioritize their urban wetlands through an accreditation scheme.

The 172 Contracting Parties to the Convention on Wetlands have agreed to the conservation and wise use of wetlands in their territories. Recognizing the importance of cities and urban wetlands, the Convention introduced a Wetland City accreditation scheme in 2015 (Resolution XII.10). This voluntary scheme provides an opportunity for cities that value their natural and/or human-made wetlands to gain international recognition and positive publicity for their efforts. Cities must apply to be accredited and they have to show that they comply with a number of criteria, including exceptional protection, care and wise use of their wetlands through a range of mechanisms such as urban planning and education.

2018

During the first cycle of the City Accreditation Scheme, the 18 cities that qualified for accreditation were announced at the Convention of Wetlands COP13 in 2018. These 18 cities were:

  • 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 intention is that The Wetland City Accreditation scheme will encourage cities in close proximity to and dependent on wetlands, especially Wetlands of International Importance, to highlight and strengthen a positive relationship with these valuable ecosystems, for example through increased public awareness of wetlands and participation in municipal planning and decision-making. The Accreditation scheme should further promote the conservation and wise use of urban and peri-urban wetlands, as well as sustainable socio-economic benefits for local people.

During the 59th meeting of the Convention on Wetlands Standing Committee on 26 May 2022, the Co-Chairs of the Convention on Wetlands Independent Advisory Committee on Wetland City Accreditation announced that 25 applicant cities had been accepted in recognition of their exceptional efforts to safeguard urban wetlands for people and nature.

Congratulations to the cities that have been accredited! One of the cities, Cape Town, is one of the pioneer CitiesWithNature – a global partnership initiative that recognizes and enhances the value of nature in and around cities across the world. The 2022 accredited cities are:

2022

During the second cycle of the City Accreditation Scheme, 25 cities qualified for accreditation and were announced during the Convention on Wetlands Standing Committee of May 2022. These newly accredited cities will be formally recognized during the COP14 of the Convention on Wetlands, to be held in November 2022.

These 25 cities are:

  • Canada: Sackville
  • China: Hefei; Jining; Liangping; Nanchang; Panjin; Wuhan; and Yangcheng
  • France: Belval-en-Argonne and Seltz
  • Indonesia: Surabaya and Tanjung Jabung Timur
  • Islamic Republic of Iran: Bandar Khamir and Varzaneh
  • Iraq: Al Chibayish
  • Japan: Izumi and Niigata
  • Morocco: Ifrane
  • Republic of Korea: Gochang; Seocheon; and Seogwipo
  • Rwanda: Kigali
  • South Africa: Cape Town
  • Spain: Valencia
  • Thailand: Sri Songkhram District