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

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.

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.

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The UN Secretary General, António Guterres, has said the world is at war with nature and we should make peace with it. The youth are telling us they are tired of ‘blah blah blah’ and ‘more of the same’. And the CBD Executive Secretary, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, has challenged us to take action urgently to implement the Edinburgh Process and amplify this at the 7th Summit of Cities & SNGs at COP15. The time to take ACTION is NOW.

~ Ingrid Coetzee, ICLEI Africa Tweet

The WorldBio 2022 event was convened on 7-9 June 2022, co-hosted by São Paulo State and the Secretariat of the Convention of Biological Diversity, in collaboration with ICLEI and Regions4, supported by the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework EU Support and GIZ and organized by ACIA (The Cunhambebe Association of the Friends of Ilha Anchieta). The event focused on accelerating projects and mobilizing resources and funding for implementation of the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) and Plan of Action 2030 on engaging subnational governments, cities and other local authorities.

WorldBio 2022 sought projects and initiatives that will contribute to implementing the new global biodiversity targets and the Plan of Action for local and subnational governments, to:

i)

show the world that cities, states, provinces and prefectures are taking action to make a difference;

ii)

stop the destruction of biodiversity, ecosystems and the planet; and

iii)

put the world on a path of restoration, healing and recovery.

The event consisted of 600+ delegates for discussions around the following five themes:

  • Messaging and the governance of communication, environmental education and public awareness (CEPA);
  • The city level: upscaling urban nature-based solutions, ecosystem-based approaches and urban ecosystem restoration;
  • The subnational level: green & blue economy & incentive and finance instruments for land- and seascape level biodiversity actions and projects, within all the ecosystem services’ benefits, considering vertical and horizontal integration;
  • Protected Areas and other effective area-based conservation measures (OECMs) – identifying public-private synergies for connectivity, highlighting coastal and marine areas; and
  • Science, knowledge generation and monitoring: focusing on pilot exchanges; setting science-based indicators and reporting; technology transfer and capacity building systems for all of the above activities, with priority on tropical forests – highlighting reforestation as well as urban forestry and agriculture, and nature-sensitive renewable energy.

WorldBio 2022 resulted in many fruitful discussions and progress, with the following key outcomes:

Five webinars will be convened in August or September (one webinar for each of the above themes) to build a better geographical balance in identifying projects and compiling a portfolio of projects that will contribute to the implementation of the GBF and Plan of Action;

Reviewing and refining of the concept proposal on the transition from the WBio2022 Event to the WBio Process to propose an appropriate institutional arrangement (the Pre-Governance Platform);

The WorldBio Process will be integrated with COP15 (part 2) and the 7th Global Biodiversity Summit of Cities, Edinburgh Process Partners, CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature, Regions4 Biodiversity Learning Platform, Advisory Committee on Sub-National Governments and Biodiversity, Group of Leading Subnational Governments towards Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and with other themes – particularly on Bioeconomy and Green and Blue Economy; and

Opportunities were explored to provide capacity building and resources to support cities and subnational governments in preparing bankable projects, identifying appropriate finance instruments to implement projects and meet requirements of donors.

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WorldBio2022 is a factory of projects enhancing inclusive local governance in transitioning to an economy harmonious with nature. It is therefore instrumental on the way towards COP15... AFD aims to feed strategically and operationally the dialogue among partners for financing projects and programmes in response to their demands. Aware that healthy and well-managed ecosystems are key for shared prosperity, AFD has the ambition to prioritize projects with a biodiversity-related content, creating and strengthening protected areas, conserving terrestrial, coastal and marine ecosystems, and supporting global initiatives that help protect 30% of the planet.

~ Katia Fenyes, from Agence Française de Développement (AFD) Tweet

This was supported and reiterated by Oliver Hillel, a Programme Officer at the CBD Secretariat, and by Ingrid Coetzee from ICLEI.

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ICLEI supports the idea of the WorldBio2022 as a factory of projects as it will help accelerate local action for biodiversity and ecosystem restoration. Also global partnership initiatives like CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature, are well-placed to support cities and subnational governments globally in channeling specifically biodiversity and nature projects.

~ Ingrid Coetzee, ICLEI Africa Tweet

ICLEI and its partners, such as Regions4 and the Advisory Committees on Cities and subnational governments, represent the group of local and subnational governments in the CBD, and advocate for the voice and ambitions of local and subnational governments in the CBD and its processes. This has resulted in the CBD’s recognition of cities and subnational governments as a major group, and their important contributions to achieving global biodiversity targets. In addition, Edinburgh Process, which culminated in the Edinburgh Declaration has resulted in an ambitious draft decision and Plan of Action for engaging local and subnational governments to be adopted at CBD COP15.