How can we mainstream biodiversity where nature matters most?

Local and subnational governments play a key role in conserving biodiversity and ecosystems and implementing the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Strategic Plan. From 9-11 December 2016, the CBD Secretariat, the Ministry of Environment of Mexico and ICLEI hosted the 5th Global Biodiversity Summit for Cities and Subnational Governments. The Summit took place during the 13th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP13) in Cancún, Mexico, and brought together ministers, governors, mayors and other stakeholders from city and state levels from around the world. The overall goal of the Summit was to strengthen the global contribution of cities and subnational governments to protecting biodiversity and the effective management of ecosystems, which provide essential goods and services to our rapidly growing cities.

5th Global Biodiversity Summit for Cities and Subnational Governments

The potential of cities and sub-national governments to play a leading role in mainstreaming biodiversity was unpacked during a range of presentations held over the course of the Summit. These presentations highlighted inspiring actions, new initiatives and innovative ideas for mainstreaming biodiversity where nature matters most - in urbanised areas, home to more than half of the world’s population.

CBD’s Executive Secretary Braulio de Souza Dias emphasised that subnational governments are in charge of effective landscape management and the sustainable use of natural resources. Even though national governments are the formal signatories of the CBD, many decisions relevant to biodiversity are taken at local and subnational level. Sub-national governments can lead the way in mainstreaming nature-based solutions, for example by protecting mangroves and coral reefs in coastal cities, factoring climate resilience and adaptation into urban planning  processes and developing and implementing Biodiversity Strategy Action Plans.

Trevor Sandwith, Director of the IUCN Global Protected Areas Programme, explained how nature can contribute to addressing the calamities occurring on our planet, in particular health-related challenges. Connecting people with nature and engaging with the health industry is important in order to promote sustainable urban and rural planning. There are many examples of how integrated sectoral planning at a regional and city level can reflect biodiversity priorities and provide mutual benefits for nature, human-health and the economy. Being exposed to nature as a child can also play an essential role in ensuring that nature is valued over the course of adult life.

In one of the sessions on landscape solutions for urban resilience, Chantal van Ham, IUCN EU Programme Manager for Nature-based Solutions highlighted the important contribution that local and regional governments can make to the Bonn Challenge - a global initiative to restore 150 million hectares of the planet's deforested and degraded lands by 2020, and 350 million hectares by 2030. Chantal also chaired a session on the benefits of nature for health and wellbeing in cities, which presented an inspiring exchange on obstacles and opportunities to restoring the connections between people and nature, and the integration of these connections within conservation strategies.

Kobie Brand, Director of the ICLEI Cities and Biodiversity Centre and Regional Director of the ICLEI African Secretariat, presented a new project that will focus on the cooperation between local, subnational and national governments in India, Brazil and Tanzania. The project aims to foster landscape-based solutions and the delivery of ecosystem services, including the economic assessments of ecosystem benefits of city regions. ICLEI is a driving force for raising awareness on biodiversity within its global network of sub-national governments, and the partners present at the Summit agreed to further strengthen the Global Community for Local & Regional Action for Nature.

The outcomes of the Summit are captured in the Quintana Roo Communiqué on Mainstreaming Local and Subnational Biodiversity Action (see link attached to this story).

For more information: Email Chantal van Ham, IUCN European Regional Office.

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