Story | 03 Sep, 2021

Cities and subnational governments pledge to put nature back on track

Today 3 September 2021, cities and sub-national governments made a number of pledges for the environment at  the Local Action Summit as part of the opening day of the IUCN World Conservation Congress,  Marseille, France. 

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Photo: Angelo Pantazis on Unsplash

Organised by the IUCN Urban Alliance, the Summit gathered representatives of cities, sub-national governments, IUCN members, business and the general public to engage in a an inspiring exchange on the actions to be delivered to achieve conservation outcomes at scale across the world’s urban regions. Mayors and representatives from a variety of cities, regions and their partners announced their pledges and commitments to help deliver the Nature 2030 IUCN Programme and, by extension, the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals.

Amongst the wide-ranging pledges, the city of Glasgow announced their commitments to achieve net-zero carbon and to halt and reverse biodiversity decline by 2030. The city of Genoa plans to establish a new public electric transportation system by 2025, to allow citizens to move sustainably. The city of Paris plans to get rid of single-use plastics and will make this part of the legacy of the Olympic Games 2024.  

Through the Summit, IUCN is giving recognition to the critical role that cities and subnational governments have in creating a sustainable urban future and in achieving our global mission to protect and restore biodiversity.

Catastrophic events such as floods, droughts and the global pandemic have emphasised the need to strengthen our communities’ resilience to future events. The Summit resulted in a strong consensus among the experts and representatives on the value of the integration of nature across urban and regional policy objectives. It also emphasised the leading role of cities and subnational governments in delivering a nature-based recovery in response to Covid-19.

Local Action Summit       Photo: Susanna Gionfra

"It is not a small change, it is a transformational change that is needed. Science is ringing the alarm bells but at the same time it is telling us that we can do it, if we use all the knowledge we available”. Said IUCN Director General Dr Bruno Oberle “An alliance is needed - This is why we believe that working with subnational governments is key!”.

Over the years, IUCN has been actively engaged – and will continue to be - in projects and initiatives that promote the integration of nature in urban and regional development and that can support cities and subnational governments in turning their commitments into action.

IUCN has initiated the development of a Contribution for Nature digital platform which will allow IUCN constituents to document their intended contributions to the Programme and other conservation frameworks and agreements such as the Global Biodiversity Framework, Paris Agreement, and SDGs. The IUCN Urban Alliance has been created to harness IUCN’s knowledge, experience and influence to promote socially inclusive, economically responsible and environmentally sustainable cities. During the Summit, the Urban Alliance announced a new tool- the Urban Nature Index - to help cities evaluate their ecological performance, set science-based targets for improvement and monitor progress.

Cities and subnational governments can lead the way in upscaling the implementation of nature-based solutions (NbS) and increase the capacity of cities and urbanised regions to adapt to effects of climate change, improve health and wellbeing and make significant contributions to restoration efforts and economic development. In order to support the design, implementation and verification of Nbs actions, IUCN has developed the first-ever Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions which aims to ensure the quality and credibility of nature-based solutions and to expedite their deployment and mobilise investment.

Now more than ever, cities and regions find themselves in the need of building their resilience in response to a wide range of societal challenges.  To this end, IUCN is committed to collaborate with cities and subnational governments towards the objective of creating a resilient, just, sustainable and more prosperous future.

Further announcements during the Summit:

  • The European Commission Directorate General for Research and Innovation and IUCN are developing a partnership for integrating Nature-based Solutions in the Horizon Europe Missions
  • Parks Canada announced a new National Urban Parks Programme
  • Urban Nature Lab announced their collaboration with IUCN to develop the Making Nature’s City toolkit
  • FEBA announced the new Climate Justice for People and Nature through Urban Ecosystem-based Adaptation
  • University of Cambridge announced a Report on Human Rights and Urban Nature

The Local Action Summit was sponsored by Arcadia, a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, and CITEO.






Susanna Gionfra, European Programme Officer Nature-based Solutions