Local & subnational advocacy for nature: May 2020 update


We continue to stand together, in solidarity, as we are increasingly faced with loss and hardship as a result of the pandemic. Furthermore, we applaud the dedication and hard work of healthcare workers who are on the front lines in treating the sick. We continue to acknowledge the role of local and subnational governments for their rapid response in the face of this crisis.

Nature provides diverse life-supporting and life-enhancing contributions to people. All cities critically depend on healthy interconnected ecosystems within and around them. There is a growing urgency for collective and large-scale action to protect biodiversity and respect nature in and around cities to prevent irreversible loss and damage to the natural systems that protect us. The COVID-19 pandemic is placing huge strain on our communities, our governments, our healthcare systems and our economies. Our cities still continue to grapple with massive sustainability challenges, and building urban resilience will be even more critical now.

Roadmap to COP 15: Timeline of Key Milestones

Due to the novel COVID-19 pandemic, many event dates in the lead up to the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have changed their dates, their locations, and in some instances, their overall method of delivery. Thus, the “Super Year for Nature” has been extended through to 2021, when COP 15 will take place. While much uncertainty remains, and more changes are likely, the journey towards COP 15 will continue with the same rigor and momentum as before.  The ongoing mobilisation of the local and subnational government constituency will ensure that actions by cities and regions are consistent, transformational, and sustained to turn every year into a “Super Year for Nature.” An updated timeline, with the most recent event dates and details can be seen below:

How to get Involved?

The Edinburgh Process for Subnational Governments, Cities and Local Authorities on the development of the Post 2020 global biodiversity framework is currently underway, as arguably one of the most significant opportunities for the voice of the local and subnational government constituency to be heard loudly in the lead up to COP 15. Given the COVID-19 context we find ourselves in, the event has been transformed into a dynamic and interactive online consultation process. The event aims to consult the local and subnational government constituency on the Zero Draft Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), the review of the Plan of Action on Subnational Governments, Cities and Other Local Authorities for Biodiversity, and recommendations for a new dedicated and stepped-up decision that builds on a renewed Plan of Action toward 2030, and in co-developing the Edinburgh Declaration, as joint outputs from the event that will feed into the SBSTTA-24 and SBI-3 consultation processes.

The Consultation Process and Thematic Webinars

An overview of the where we currently are in the process can be seen in the figure below:

A series of successful Regional Information Sessions were held throughout the week of 5-8 May 2020 as follows:

  • Europe/North America: 5th May
  • Africa: 6th May
  • South America: 7th May
  • Asia Pacific: 8th May

These sessions provided a useful introduction to the process as well as background and guidance for participants to make their inputs. On 12th May 2020, ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center hosted the first of the Thematic Webinars that are shown above. The topic of the webinar was: Monitoring and Reporting Tools for Local and Subnational Governments. The virtual session brought together a range of partners to share the metrics and tools they are working on to support the local and subnational government constituency in measuring their success and progress. In terms of the upcoming webinars, we would like to draw your attention to the thematic webinar on the topic of Nature-based Solutions and Capacity Building, which will be hosted by the ICLEI European Secretariat on World Biodiversity Day (22nd May 2020). For more details of the upcoming Thematic Webinars that will take place up until 12 June 2020, register for the Edinburgh Process.

The online consultation process opened on 30th April 2020, and remains open for participants to make inputs until 29th May 2020. If you have not done so already, we encourage you to register for the Edinburgh Process. This can be done by expressing your interest in participating at: enquiries-subnationalworkshop@gov.scot

Successful registration will allow you access to Attendify, the platform where the Edinburgh Process consultation documents, resources, links to webinars, and webinar recordings will all be housed. For more information, click here.

The event is being organised by the Government of Scotland and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), in collaboration with partner organisations such as ICLEI, REGIONS4 Sustainable Development, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), the Group of Leading Subnational Governments toward Aichi Biodiversity Targets (GoLS), the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Scottish National Heritage, the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, the Government of Quebec and of Wales. For more information, and to stay up-to-date with the unfolding details, click here.

Save the Date: Register for our Next Webinar

ICLEI continues to host its monthly Post-2020 webinar series to keep up to date on the unfolding participatory process on the roadmap to COP 15: The Paris Moment for Nature. Visit our website to see more on our local and subnational advocacy for nature and to get involved. In case you have missed the previous webinars in the series, the recordings are available on our YouTube Channel.

The next webinar in the series will take place on the 14th May 2020 and is titled “Nature, food, nutrition and health in the time of COVID-19.” Click to register for your preferred timeslot (SAST) below:
at 10:00 am SAST (GMT+2)
03:00 pm SAST (GMT+2)

Local and Subnational Government Call to Action

As we co-develop the collective and consolidated position of the local and subnational government constituency in the lead up to COP 15, the call to action for local and subnational governments to mobilize is clear now, more than ever before. Below are 6 things each actor in the constituency can do to support the Roadmap to COP 15:

  1. COMMIT to taking ambitious action and set local and subnational targets that are aligned to the Post-2020 GBF
  2. JOIN networks like CitiesWithNature that will support and enable this action
  3. PARTICIPATE in key roadmap events and the Post-2020 process to make your voice heard and to contribute to the development of the constituency’s emerging position
  4. COLLABORATE with all levels of government and other actors
  5. CALL ON CBD Parties to endorse the consolidated position statement and support the adoption of a stepped-up, dedicated decision that enables active participation by local and subnational governments
  6. ENGAGE with your communities about the benefits of living in CitiesWithNature

A Brief History of Previous Outcomes from Global Biodiversity Summits

Successive Global Biodiversity Summits of Local and Subnational Governments have been co-convened by ICLEI, host governments, and key partners as official events in parallel to the CBD COPs since COP 9 in 2008. Since the first Summit, there has been at least one official COP decision dedicated to local and subnational governments emerging from each Summit’s negotiations. This is testimony to CBD Parties’ and the SCBD’s recognition of the vital role that cities and regions play in contributing to the CBD objectives.

As COVID-19 is offering us a time for deep reflection, so too should we reflect on the previous Summit communiques, resolutions and declarations that have been presented to CBD Parties over the last decade, to set the scene for the 7th Global Biodiversity Summit, a key moment to mobilise the local and subnational government constituency, that will be hosted in the margins of COP 15. These documents have been key to advancing our global advocacy agenda, and the links to the Summit outcomes, since 2008, are provided below:

Connecting cities to nature and climate through the power of arts and music

In 2020 the world will celebrate the 250th anniversary of the birth of composer Ludwig van Beethoven (1770-1827). Beethoven was born in Bonn, which today is not only the City of Beethoven, but also a United Nations city and seat of the UN’s Climate Change Secretariat. The Beethoven Pastoral Project aims to draw attention to the theme of ‘mankind and nature’, represented in the romantic sense in the ‘Pastoral’ music, and to deal actively with today’s urgent questions of environmental protection and global sustainability, and achieving the aims of the Paris Climate Agreement. The Project was launched in Bonn, at the UN Climate Conference (COP 23) on 15 November 2017.

On 5th June 2020, Beethoven Pastoral aims to connect cities to nature and climate through the power of arts and music to shape a powerful statement for environmental protection and sustainable development – for a better world for millions of people. Click here for more details.

Coming Soon: CitiesWithNature Commitment Platform

The current global pandemic is calling us to increasingly connect online. CitiesWithNature, an unique, next-generation initiative, is supporting an online community of practice and enabling learning and action around integrating nature in cities and reconnecting people with nature. We will soon be launching the much anticipated CitiesWithNature Commitment Platform. This platform will provide a space for local and subnational governments to commit to taking action and set targets in line with the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) under the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The actions and targets shared on the commitment platform will form the basis of a robust monitoring and reporting mechanism for cities to measure their progress through an interactive and dynamic web interface.

The platform, designed to support urban action, will capture contributions from local and subnational governments to achieve the global biodiversity agenda and inspire collective action. It will track trends over time and demonstrate, through ratcheting up, the critical role of local and subnational governments in delivering the Post-2020 GBF. A suite of new features on CitiesWithNature will support the commitment platform and enhance the user experience.

Watch this space!

To join CitiesWithNature, connect with the growing network of cities and regions who are taking action for nature, and experience this innovative platform, click here.


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The generous support from the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework – EU Support project, the INTERACT-Bio project, and CitiesWithNature partners and cities, has contributed to this email update.