ICLEI and UNEP strengthen their partnership #fornature

This World Environment Day, ICLEI–Local Governments for Sustainability and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) are strengthening their existing global partnership to collaborate on the CitiesWithNature partnership initiative.

ICLEI, through its Cities Biodiversity Center (CBC), and UNEP will deepen their collaboration in the urban nature space, in pursuit of their common goals and ambitions and under the auspices of an existing Memorandum of Understanding, formalized in December 2015.

“Leveraging the individual and collective strengths of our two organizations, partnering on CitieswithNature will enhance our existing activities and establish a joint work programme for protecting, mainstreaming and enhancing nature in and around our cities,” says Ms Kobie Brand, Director of ICLEI CBC. “We are launching this particular collaboration on World Environment Day, and it will mark the starting point for far more long-term and wide reaching collaboration.”

For World Environment Day, the two organisations are collaborating on a campaign focused on cities, calling on them to share, learn and act #fornature. Central to this campaign, is a call to action to local and subnational governments to join CitiesWithNature and benefit from connecting with and learning from other cities and experts. Going forward, the two organizations will cooperate to raise awareness on the need to reverse the loss of nature through actions at the local and subnational level.

“We need a new deal on nature with commitments for ambitious action to safeguard our collective urban future. Greening cities has health benefits, helps climate mitigation and adaptation and creates jobs,” says Martina Otto, Head of Cities Unit at UNEP. “ICLEI and UNEP will work together to support multi-level governance for people and nature thriving harmoniously in and around our cities.”

CitiesWithNature was founded by ICLEI, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC). It provides a shared platform for cities, regions, partners, researchers, practitioners and urban communities to learn, share and inspire collective action for global impact. The platform seeks to showcase the value of nature in all aspects of urban life and mainstream nature into policy and planning.

“This announcement welcomes UNEP to the growing network of supporting partners who are co-shaping the CitiesWithNature initiative and online platform. We will work closely together to support cities and regions on the journey to a more resilient future, where nature is protected, enhanced, and respected,” says Ms Brand.

Nature holds many benefits for urban communities, and we depend on its goods and services for our survival. The COVID-19 pandemic brought home a strong message on how much we depend on nature. However, rapid urbanization is a significant driver of biodiversity loss, which is increasingly taking place at unprecedented rates. The time is now, more than ever before, to unite and build CitiesWithNature. It is at the local level where transformation can be achieved most meaningfully.

It is critical that we position nature at the center of our urban responses to COVID-19 and build back better. Furthermore, the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity will adopt the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework at the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP) next year. The framework will guide the global biodiversity agenda over the next decade. Local and subnational governments are critical in implementing the objectives of the Convention, and this partnership will seek to advance the advocacy agenda of this constituency in the global biodiversity arena.

ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability is a global network of more than 1,750 local and regional governments committed to sustainable urban development. Active in 100+ countries, we influence sustainability policy and drive local action for low emission, nature-based, equitable, resilient and circular development. Our Members and team of experts work together through peer exchange, partnerships and capacity building to create systemic change for urban sustainability.

ICLEI CBC is located in Cape Town, South Africa, embedded in the Africa Regional Office of ICLEI. We offer cities a broad portfolio of supportive services through our dedicated team of passionate, skilled and dynamic biodiversity and urban development experts.

ICLEI CBC is the secretariat of the CitiesWithNature partnership initiative, on behalf of the founding partners: ICLEI, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC), and the growing network of supporting partners.

The current supporting partners are Salzburg Global Seminar, Cities4Forests, WWF Cities, WWF Germany, NATURVATION, European Committee of the Regions (CoR), Group of Leading Subnational Governments toward Aichi Biodiversity Targets (GoLS), World Urban Parks (WUP), The International Association of Horticultural Producers (AIPH), NATURA and UNEP.

The platform has also been endorsed by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD) as the official vehicle through which cities and subnational governments can share and report on their biodiversity commitments and ambitions towards the Action Agenda for Nature and People and in shaping the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

UNEP is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system, and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.

Its mission is to provide leadership and encourage partnership in caring for the environment by inspiring, informing, and enabling nations and peoples to improve their quality of life without compromising that of future generations.

Headquartered in Nairobi, Kenya, UNEP works through its divisions as well as its regional, liaison and out-posted offices and a growing network of collaborating centres of excellence. UNEP also hosts several environmental conventions, secretariats and inter-agency coordinating bodies.

UNEP’s work on cities pursues the objective to mainstream environmental sustainability in city planning and management through Decarbonising, Decoupling and Detoxifying (3Ds), investing in nature, integrated and community-based approaches, and partnerships.

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