Brief Roadmap to the Cities for Life Summit

The Local Government Biodiversity Roadmap: from small beginnings to big decisions:

At the Curitiba Meeting on Cities and Biodiversity in 2007, the Curitiba Declaration on Cities and Biodiversity was adopted, reaffirming the commitment of cities to contribute actively to the implementation of the three objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The establishment of the Global Partnership on Cities and Biodiversity was proposed in Curitiba at this meeting too, but was officially launched in 2008. The Global Partnership aims to support and assist cities in their biodiversity work, sharing lessons, knowledge and consolidating efforts to garner support for local biodiversity efforts.

The 2008 Mayors Conference in Bonn, organised by ICLEI amongst other partners as a side event at CBD COP 9, gave local leaders an international platform to be heard, to build networks and to collaborate with national governments and UN organisations, amongst others. Here an intervention on behalf of local governments was compiled and subsequently presented at the COP. This resulted in Parties adopting decision IX/28, a milestone decision, which for the first time recognised the importance of local governments in supporting the implementation of the Convention.

The Second Curitiba Meeting on Cities and Biodiversity took place in January 2010, marking the launch of the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB). The declaration, entitled Towards Aichi/Nagoya: Second Curitiba Declaration on Local Authorities and Biodiversity, was also finalised here, and re-emphasised the commitment of local governments to being key role-players in global biodiversity conservation and calling on others - particularly national governments - to support them in this role.

At the end of 2010, Local governments gathered at the City Biodiversity Summit, organized by the Aichi-Nagoya CBD COP 10 Promotion Committee, ICLEI, and the Secretariat of CBD. COP 10 saw the Parties to the CBD adopt the groundbreaking Decision X/22 and thereby endorse the Plan of Action on Subnational Governments, Cities and Other Local Authorities for Biodiversity (2011-2020) at Nagoya, Japan. This landmark decision provided guidelines for cooperation between national and local governments, and began building the critical support local governments need for the effective local, national and international implementation of the Convention and the achievement of biodiversity targets.

The Cities for Life Summit, held in parallel to the CBD COP 11 in Hyderabad, aimed at taking stock of progress since Nagoya. It outlined the latest tools and initiatives, reiterated the importance of ecosystem services and presented a response by local governments, sub-national governments, academia and international organizations to the Plan of Action. Cities for Life concluded with the Hyderabad Declaration, which was presented during the High Level Segment Closing Plenary by an ICLEI representative on behalf of local governments and sub-national authorities.

In a real breakthrough for local governments, the Parties at COP 11 adopted Decision XI/8 which focuses on “Engagement of other stakeholders, major groups and subnational authorities: Subnational governments, cities and other local authorities for biodiversity”. The Decision, among other things, “invites Parties and other Governments to develop, with their local and sub-national governments, guidelines and capacity-building initiatives to develop, enhance or adapt local and sub-national biodiversity strategies and action plans…” and “ invites Parties, development organizations and other donors to support initiatives by networks of local and subnational governments that complement the Plan of Action and contribute directly to Parties’ achievement of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets …”.

Through the coordination of the local government biodiversity roadmap process, ICLEI and SCBD, together with partners, continues to strive to create an enabling platforms for local governments, to raise awareness of the need for local governments to contribute to the biodiversity debate at the international level, and to improve support for local governments to implement improved biodiversity management measures. This year’s Cities for Life Summit is sure to bring with it even more progress and success in achieving our goals.