Blue Flag partners with CitiesWithNature initiative

Have you ever heard of a “Blue Flag beach”? Of course you have! The iconic Blue Flag is one of the world’s most recognized voluntary awards for beaches, marinas, and sustainable boating tourism operators. 

We are proud to announce that Blue Flag has joined the global CitiesWithNature partnership initiative! 

Image provided by: Blue Flag

Coastal zones are critical areas, not only to provide livelihoods and recreational opportunities, but because they serve as immensely important buffer areas to sea level rise, deadly floods and storm surges, while also providing essential, safe havens and breeding grounds for many fish species and countless other organisms, plants and animals. Blue Flag, founded by the Foundation for Environmental Education (FEE), will actively work with CitiesWithNature to promote nature conservation activities across its networks.

“We know that we can achieve more together than separately and will strive to make the most of our collaboration as we implement solutions for people and the planet.”

Daniel Schaffer, CEO of the Foundation for Environmental Education

To qualify for the Blue Flag, a series of stringent environmental, educational, safety, and accessibility criteria must be met and maintained. The beach must comply with laws and/or regulations pertaining to issues related to coastal zone planning, environmental management, wastewater management, environmental conservation, and others in order to receive and maintain Blue Flag status.

 

With this awards system, the mission of Blue Flag is to promote sustainability in the tourism sector, through environmental education, environmental protection and other sustainable development practices. As a result of Blue Flag and its partnerships, more than 5,000 beaches, marinas and eco-tourism boats are concretely contributing to the sustainable development goals. Blue Flag also campaigns against disparity, inequality, unemployment, health threats, depletion of natural resources, environmental threats, pollution and general environmental degradation. Find out more about Blue Flag’s efforts to contribute to the Sustainable Development Goals  here

 

In addition to its role in maintaining coastal ecosystems, FEE is also a recognized world leader within the fields of Environmental Education and Education for Sustainable Development. Through its three youth-focused educational programs, Eco-Schools, Learning about Forests (LEAF), and Young Reporters for the Environment (YRE), the organization uses a solutions-based pedagogical approach to empower young people to create a more environmentally conscious world. 

 

As an international umbrella organization, FEE has over 100 members in 81 countries and has its Global Secretariat in Copenhagen, Denmark. Through this partnership, CitiesWithNature and Blue Flag will work towards bringing even more unique and tailor-made technical services, reporting mechanisms, capacity-building and funding opportunities – specifically in the field of coastal management – to our collective Blue Flag and CitiesWitNature cities and towns globally. 

“We are so pleased to welcome the highly respected global Blue Flag programme into the CitiesWithNature initiative, demonstrating our shared commitment to work with subnational and local governments in coastal cities to ensure that we live, act and plan with nature. This partnership provides a unique opportunity for urban communities and their governments to rise to the challenge and take ownership of our precious shores, committing to renewed action as part of this important Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.”

Kobie Brand, Deputy Director General of ICLEI

This new partnership comes right on time, with world leaders recognising and adopting an action-oriented Political Declaration to save the ocean from existing and future threats, including marine pollution, harmful fishing practices, biodiversity loss, and acidification at the 2022 UN Oceans Conference in Lisbon – co-hosted by Kenya and Portugal in June this year at the onset of the United Nations Decade of Oceans Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030).

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.

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.

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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.

Forests sequester about one third of greenhouse gas emissions, yet only a handful of U.S. communities include trees in GHG inventories.


Washington, D.C. (August 19, 2019)
 – Today, ICLEI–Local Governments for Sustainability USA (ICLEI) unveiled new guidance that enables U.S. cities and counties to include forests and trees within their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions accounting, a key activity to ensure representation of local forestry and land use consideration in climate action planning. Developed in partnership with the Woods Hole Research Center and World Resources Institute (WRI), and funded by Climate and Land Use Alliance (CLUA) and Doris Duke Charitable Foundation, the Forest and Land Use Appendix to ICLEI’s U.S. Community Protocol for Accounting and Reporting of Greenhouse Gas Emissions will help fill a critical gap in enabling communities to develop climate action related to land management at a local level.

Forests and trees sequester about a third of the greenhouse gas emissions that humans emit every year; however, a study conducted by ICLEI showed that 60 percent of U.S. community respondents did not include forests or trees in their greenhouse gas inventories due to a lack of guidance on how to do so.

“Failing to include forest and trees within U.S. climate action plans — which serve as such a critical component to meeting global climate mitigation goals — simply due to lack of available guidance was a huge missed opportunity,” said Angie Fyfe, Executive Director, ICLEI USA. “The U.S. has some of the best data on land use, we couldn’t let limited expertise on how to put these numbers together be the cause for inaction.”

More than 3,500 people have downloaded The U.S. Community Protocol since 2012. The Forest and Land Use Appendix of the Protocol provides, for the first time, guidance to U.S. communities for estimating the emissions and removals from forests. The Appendix also considers “trees outside forests”, including urban trees and trees in croplands, which are often overlooked in national assessments.

The protocol was piloted with Montgomery County, Maryland; Los Angeles County, California; and Whatcom County, Washington; representing the dramatic spectrum of climate and land cover across the country.

“Montgomery County jumped at the opportunity to explore the sequestration benefits associated with trees and forests,” said Marc Elrich, County Executive, Montgomery County, Maryland. “Given our aggressive GHG reduction goals of 80 percent by 2027 and carbon neutrality by 2035, increased sequestration must be in the mix of strategies we employ. The new protocol also has prompted us to think more deeply about natural climate solutions ranging from reducing the heat-island effect to increasing sequestration in the agricultural sector.”

“The protocol provides a baseline for communities to start acknowledging the climate benefits that come from leaving forests and trees standing, increasing tree canopy cover in cities and incorporating trees into agricultural landscapes,” said Nancy Harris, Forest Program Research Manager at World Resources Institute and co-author of the protocol. “Having this guidance at a sub-state level is critical, given most decisions around land use are made at a very local scale.”

ICLEI USA has revised its ClearPath GHG emissions management software tool with new calculators that will allow communities to develop GHG inventories with land use in mind from the outset and is encouraging its member communities to see the new guidance to consider how forests and trees can be integrated into climate action plans.

Download the U.S. Community Protocol for Accounting and Reporting of Greenhouse Gas Emissions

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