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Gangwon Province, one of 17 metropolitan cities and provinces in Korea, is situated in the center of northeast Asia. The province, which accounts for the mid-eastern part of the Korean peninsula, also lies adjacent to Seoul, the capital of Korea. It covers an area of 16,873km² which includes the 145km-long DMZ, 150km wide from east to west and 243km long from north to south.

Gangwon Province has high mountains and deep valleys formed by its backbone, the Taebaek mountain range, running north to south on the peninsula. There are also numerous lakes throughout the province, especially lagoons on the East Coast. Thanks to these environmental advantages, Gangwon Province is referred to as a rich repository of biodiversity.

In order to sustain and enhance this valuable natural heritage, we have designated some areas as protected with, at present, 4 conservation areas and 9 national, provincial and county parks in the province. Furthermore, we have made every effort to minimize the environmental impact on urban areas on surrounding ecosystems, working together with 18 cities and local governments. We are still developing and implementing various policies and plans such as reducing the emission of greenhouse gases and expanding water supply with a view to improving the quality of life for our citizens.

It is a great honor to host the twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity(CBD COP 12), one of the world’s largest intergovernmental conferences on biodiversity, in PyeongChang Alpensia Resort, Gangwon-do Province this year.

Approximately 20,000 people from the 194 CBD Parties, international organizations, global business groups, local and subnational governments, and NGOs are expected to participate in this conference. This will provide a good opportunity to show the capacity of Gangwon Province and its residents as well as let its ecological environment widely known to the world. In addition, The Biodiversity Summit for Cities and Sub-national Governments will be held under the leadership of Gangwon Province during CBD COP 12. This summit will be a significant platform to discuss the key role of local governments in biodiversity conservation and highlight its importance.

Choi Moon-Soon
Governor of Gangwon-do Province

As E.O Wilson once said, “Biodiversity is the assembly of life that took a billion years to evolve. It has eaten the storms, folded them into its genes and created the world that created us. It holds the world steady”. Biodiversity is inextricably linked to our livelihoods, our economy, and cultural identity. Indeed, protecting our world’s biodiversity is one of the fundamental pillars of achieving sustainable development, and to ‘holding steady’ the success and well-being of present and future generations.

I would like to welcome you to the official website for the 2014 Biodiversity Summit for Cities and Subnational Governments. ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability is proud to once again be convening the Biodiversity Summit (12-14 October) which will be held in support of, and in parallel with, the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in partnership with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and hosts: the Republic of Korea and the Provincial Government of Gangwon.

The urgency for city governments to tackle the challenges of biodiversity loss has increased as urban populations have continued to grow exponentially in the last decades. With increasing recognition of the role of biodiversity in improving the quality of life for urban citizens, wise and strategic management of biodiversity by cities and local governments is critical. Case studies from around the globe show the range of benefits that biodiversity and ecosystems can bring to municipalities, from increased resilience against extreme weather events to everyday services such as the provision of raw materials, clean air and fresh water.

This year, the theme for the 12th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is “Biodiversity for Sustainable Development” and, accordingly, the Biodiversity Summit for Cities and Subnational Government, to be held in parallel with the COP, will highlight the contribution of cities and their invaluable contribution towards a greener economy and towards the implementation of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity (2011-2020) and its Aichi Targets. The Biodiversity Summit will convene hundreds of representatives of local, subnational and national governments and their partners to strengthen multi-level cooperation, building upon the ground-breaking outcomes of previous Biodiversity Summits for cities and subnational governments and CBD COPs, with a view to strengthening the management of biodiversity and ecosystem services.

We greatly look forward to welcoming you to the Summit in Gangwon Province, in the Republic of Korea!

Gino Van Begin ICLEI Secretary General

Subnational governments, including cities, are responsible for implementing much of what is decided upon by the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). They are therefore a crucial complement to their national counterparts and to the success of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and its Aichi Biodiversity Targets.

The Biodiversity Summit for Cities and Subnational Governments 2014 provides an important platform to connect cities and other subnational governments to the international biodiversity decision-making arena and to showcase their own important efforts. It marks the fourth consecutive occasion, since the ninth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the CBD in Bonn in 2008, on which the Secretariat of the CBD is partnering with ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability to convene such an event in parallel with the meeting of COP. Setting this Summit apart from its predecessors, will be the high level of participation from all levels of government in the discussions being held in its various sessions. Its themes, furthermore, are aligned with the COP’s overarching theme of biodiversity for sustainable development.

Together with my co-patrons, Gangwon Governor Choi Moon-Soon, and ICLEI Secretary-General Gino Van Begin, it is therefore my pleasure to welcome you to Pyeongchang and to the Biodiversity Summit for Cities and Subnational Governments 2014.

Braulio Ferreira de Souza Dias
Executive Secretary of the Convention on Biological Diversity