The 7th Summit for Subnational Governments & Cities, an official parallel event to the CBD COP15, culminated on 12 December after an intensive two days of sharing and demonstrating inspirational biodiversity initiatives and solutions; solidifying and celebrating subnational and local actions for the protection, restoration and enhancement of biodiversity; and engaging with national leaders, key stakeholders and partners to pivot combined multilevel ambitions and engagement into measurable actions.

With over 1 200 registrants form 69 countries and 237 cities, as well as close to 80 high level speakers, this milestone 7th Summit built on the outcomes of six previous Summits, and over two decades of work by ICLEI, in partnership with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity and other partners, to ensure the voices of local and subnational governments are heard and elevated in the UN CBD processes.

At this historic 7th Summit, the local and subnational government constituency committed to stepping up urgency and action to address the biodiversity crisis and support implementation of the new post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF), with an urgent call to Parties to raise ambition, strengthen commitment to multilevel integration, and scale up support to enable protection of biodiversity and ecosystem restoration. It was emphasized that there is a clear need for direct financing for local and subnational governments to implement local, context-specific solutions, and scale up and accelerate actions. The key outcomes of the 7th Summit were presented to the CBD COP15 High Level Segment.

The Edinburgh Declaration for subnational governments, cities and local authorities on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, set out the aspirations and commitments of local and subnational governments for the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, to work alongside CBD Parties in taking transformative actions for nature over the coming decade.

The renewed Decision and its updated Plan of Action on engagement with subnational governments, cities and other local authorities to enhance implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, was adopted by the Parties at the COP15 Plenary Session on Monday 19 December 2022 in Montreal. This significant gain for our constituency of subnational and local governments was further enhanced with the adoption of several Decisions, ranging from capacity building and development and scientific and technical cooperation; the monitoring framework; communication; and mechanisms for planning, monitoring, reporting and review, that recognize the role and contribution of subnational and local governments in meeting the objectives of the CBD. This includes recognition in the Kunming-Montreal GBF of our constituency’s contribution in catalyzing urgent and transformative action, and inclusion of the multilevel concept of ‘whole of government’ in section C, targets 13 and 14 and a dedicated urban target, target 12:

Significantly increase the area and quality and connectivity of, access to, and benefits from green and blue spaces in urban and densely populated areas sustainably, by mainstreaming the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and ensure biodiversity-inclusive urban planning, enhancing native biodiversity, ecological connectivity and integrity, and improving human health and well-being and connection to nature and contributing to inclusive and sustainable urbanization and the provision of ecosystem functions and services.

Read the L.22 document that is the Decision on Engagement with subnational governments, cities and other local authorities to enhance implementation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

The strong support for multilevel governance expressed by a growing number of Parties since the start of the negotiations on the GBF is encouraging. Local and subnational governments are ‘in the room’ and have shown that they are ready, able, and – as illustrated by the CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature partnership initiatives – already taking action to bend the curve on biodiversity loss and restore life sustaining ecosystems.

COP15 was an historic event and has seen the adoption of an ambitious package that includes the Kunming-Montreal GBF with decisions on capacity building, resource mobilization and mechanisms for planning, monitoring, reporting and review. Subnational and local governments are central to the successful implementation of this ambitious new package in bringing about transformation change.

The Summit also saw some special announcements, including:

The ICLEI-Kunming International Center of Excellence for CitiesWithNature, jointly initiated by ICLEI and Kunming City, was formally established at a signing ceremony on Day 2 of the 7th Summit. The center is committed to be an important platform for demonstration, peer learning and creating partnerships between Chinese and international cities on nature conservation and biodiversity. It will also help enhance local governments’ technical capacity and encourage local commitment and actions for the implementation of the new global framework. The activities of the center will run in close collaboration with ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center based in Cape Town, South Africa.

Celebrating new Partners, Cities and Regions joining the global CitiesWithNature & RegionsWithNature partner initiatives

Thirty-five new cities and five new global partners were welcomed to the CitiesWithNature global partnership initiative, which is recognized by the UN SCBD as the platform where subnational governments, cities and other local authorities report on their actions and voluntary commitments to the global biodiversity framework.

The RegionsWithNature global partnership initiative, a sister platform to the successful CitiesWithNature initiative, focused on the regional level at a landscape scale and across urban-rural linkages, was officially launched on Day 2 of the 7th Summit, and 8 new regions, as well as new global partners welcomed onboard.

~ Watch the video message from citizens around the world to the 7th Summit for Subnational Governments & Cities: We Need Cities and Regions With Nature to Reshape our Future ~

For the first time at a CBD COP, there is also a dedicated Pavilion for the local and subnational government constituency, demonstrating the significant recognition and acknowledgment of their critical role in achieving the global biodiversity targets.

The 7th Summit was co-hosted by ICLEI with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD) and Regions4, along with the host Government of Québec and the City of Montréal and with the support and engagement of the Province of Yunnan and the City of Kunming. Both the Summit and its associated Pavilion are financially supported by the Government of Québec as main sponsor.

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