Global Partnership on Cities and Biodiversity
Strengthening local governments’ managing and communicating biodiversity
Summary Cities and Biodiversity is proposed as a global partnership of UN agencies, local governments and other partners to strengthen the capacity of cities and towns for improving management and conservation of biodiversity through technical cooperation and capacity building projects, communication, networking and others. Although urban areas cover only 2% of the land surface, cities and their residents consume up to 75% of the Earth resources. Therefore they can and must play a key role in conserving the global biodiversity. In an ever increasing decentralised world, city governments have critical mandates on land use planning, watershed management, infrastructure development, consumer education and business licensing that is of direct importance to biodiversity. Urban biodiversity is biological diversity of urban areas. It is heavily influenced by the built environment and the economic, social and cultural dynamics of these densely populated places. Local Action on Biodiversity reflects the mandate and responsibilities of local governments to act within their jurisdiction as well as beyond urban limits as patterns of urban resource consumption affect ecosystems thousands of miles away. Background The year 2007 is a special year in human history. For the first time, the world became essentially an urban planet with a majority of its population living in cities, a proportion increasing to 2/3 within 50 years. Cities and urban ecosystems have become an essential part of Gaia. Most of this growth will occur in developing countries and in 2030 UN-Habitat estimates that more than two billion people will be living in urban slums with limited access to basic services, limited participating in decision making processes and facing extreme vulnerability to natural disasters. Urbanization proceeds in a variety of ways in different parts of the world and affects the environment at all scales. In developing countries, where the Millennium Development Goals are a primary target, unchecked and unmanaged urban growth places increased pressures on vulnerable social and ecological systems. But cities are also places offering solutions for humans and the environment since they represent main hubs of knowledge, resources and innovations. Urbanisation has a variety of implications for urban biodiversity and ecosystems. Firstly, knowledge about and contact with nature diminishes as the number of rural dwellers decreases. Secondly, cities become managers and users of biodiversity as they depend on it for the provision of natural resources and ecosystems services. Thirdly, the urban poor who depend even more than the rich on these services for food, water, fuel and building materials, are both a cause for and a victim of the depletion of these resources. Fourthly, with unsustainable urban growth, ecosystems are affected and their services to cities are diminished. However, factors influencing environmental change in urban landscapes often also originate far beyond city, regional or even national boundaries. Within the next ten
years population movements within and across continents will accelerate and exacerbate current pressures on land, ecosystems and natural resources. Long term planning of urban landscapes requires an understanding of these global, regional and local forces and their integration into planning at an appropriate scale. An increasing number of urban leaders around the world have recognized that ecosystems and biodiversity provide them with social, economic, cultural and ecological benefits that are vital for their survival. Local authorities have mobilised to adopt practices to sustainably manage the ecosystems they depend on, and the biodiversity that constitutes one of their main assets. The Convention on Biological Diversity requests its Parties to implement decisions regarding biodiversity at all levels, from international to national and sub-national. Local authorities have already been recognized as critical stakeholders in the UN’s Commission on Sustainable Development and through the Local Agenda 21. They are considered an essential partner for achieving the 2010 biodiversity target. Aware of the critical mandate of local authorities and particularly cities, the Secretariat of the CBD has been working with networks of cities, international organizations and other UN agencies to encourage Parties to support cities in addressing the 2010 biodiversity challenge, and to provide governments at all levels with the tools and technology to allow cities to fully incorporate biodiversity issues into urban planning and development. The journey towards a global partnership on cities and biodiversity started in early 2006 at the ICLEI General Assembly in Capetown, South Africa, where the more than 300 local authorities’ member to ICLEI called for the establishment of a pilot project on Local Action for Biodiversity. 21 Cities representing 52 million have worked together with ICLEI and IUCN’s Countdown 2010 initiative. At the initiative of Mayor Richa and the Secretariat of the CBD, a meeting was held in Curitiba, Brazil, on 26-27 March 2007. Over 34 mayors or their representatives attended, and participants adopted the Curitiba Declaration on Cities and Biodiversity. The Declaration reaffirms the Mayor’s commitment to contribute actively to the implementation of the three objectives of the CBD and to the achievement of the 2010 biodiversity target. A task force was established with the Secretariat of the CBD, ICLEI and its Local Action for Biodiversity programme, UNEP, UN-HABITAT, IUCN’s Countdown 2010 initiative, and UNESCO, as well as the mayors of Curitiba, Bonn, Nagoya, Montreal and Johannesburg. The establishment of a Global Partnership on Cities and Biodiversity was proposed during the Curitiba Meeting on Cities and Biodiversity in March 2007 to support cities in the sustainable management of their biodiversity resources, to assist cities to implement practices that support national, regional and international strategies, plans, and agendas on biodiversity, and to learn from existing initiatives. This was re-iterated at the Bonn UN Biodiversity Summit in May 2008, where Mayor Dieckmann of City of Bonn (Germany) hosted a Mayor Conference which issued the Bonn Declaration. The time is now ripe to formally launch a Global Partnership on Cities and Biodiversity at the IUCN World Conservation Congress on 7 October 2008 in Barcelona in order to mobilise a network of cities for the UN International Year on Biodiversity in 2010 where the next UN Summit will take place in Oct 2010 in Nagoya, Japan. Governance and Responsibilities The partnership will be facilitated by the CBD secretariat. At the level of city government representation, ICLEI and current partners of the initiative will engage city networks such as the World Mayor’s Council on Climate Change (through a biodiversity chapter), Metropolis and United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG), to coordinate the participation of cities along with Countdown 2010’s network of more than 260 local governments. Scientific networks on urban biodiversity such as URBIS, the Urban Biosphere Network supported by the Stockholm Resilience Centre
and UNESCO, and Erfurt University’s URBIO will be called to provide technical assistance. At project level, a coordinating mechanism will be set up of project managers (evolving out of the current LAB Steering Committee). The Partnership shall remain open to new institutions and networks that will add to its strengths, by consensus of its members. The responsibilities of the partners would be as follows: City governments: make a commitment to work with local communities, managers of protected areas and national governments; provide staff time to work on action plans and their implementation; provide experience to other cities where they exist; National governments: make a commitment to support cities by creating an enabling environment for the activities under this partnership including environmental rules and regulations (if necessary); involving cities in the development of National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans; supporting the partnership technically and financially. Donors: the private sector and other partners can join the partnership and contribute by facilitating contacts with local and national partners; providing expertise and tools, funding; and outreach platforms. Multilateral organizations and NGOs: make available staff time to support development of regional action plans and other activities; support meetings and trainings (financially and/or in-kind); develop tools with and for cities; facilitate the exchange of experiences; coordinate the development of publication(s); and draft funding proposals. Academia and research organisation mobilise to engage in site based, policy relevant research for sustainable management of linked socialecological urban systems Other partners: provide knowledge products (data, tools) and staff time for trainings and awareness-raising. The key elements forming the global Cities and Biodiversity Initiative are Cooperation
Open network of UN agencies, local government associations and other committed actors, mainly for mutual information, cooperation and coordination.
City networks such as ICLEI, UCLG, World Mayors Council on Climate Change (WMCCC), Biodiversity Chapter and others: Global group of committed mayors who
are concerned about biodiversity
Local Action for Biodiversity as a joint initiative of ICLEI
and IUCN’s Countdown 2010 Initiative. A multitude of projects and initiatives for local governments as delivery mechanism to support and increase local governments activities.
Cities & Biodiversity
Local Government Representation
Committed representatives of cities and local governments together with cities network represent urban biodiversity globally
Local Action for Biodiversity
An ICLEI/ IUCN initiative open to partners and implemented through a variety of projects
Global Partnership on Cities and Biodiversity (facilitated by CBD Secretariat) Open network of local government associations, international agencies, NGOs, science and cities, especially the host cities to UN CBD related activities, and others Cooperation, fundraising, communication and commitments