The UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s 15th Conference of Parties (COP15) from 7 to 19 December 2022 in Montréal provided the ideal opportunity for the CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature global partnership initiatives to highlight their notable progress in recent months.
CitiesWithNature has particularly experienced significant growth since its launch in 2018. During the 7th Summit for Subnational Governments and Cities at COP15, 36 new cities and five new global partners were welcomed to the CitiesWithNature global partnership initiative, which is recognized by the UN Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity as the platform where subnational governments, cities and other local authorities report on their actions and voluntary commitments to the global biodiversity framework.
“By joining CitiesWithNature and using the Action Platform, cities across the world can commit ambitious actions that contribute to national and global biodiversity and nature goals, and easily track their achievements and actions individually and collectively. We strongly encourage all cities and regions, large and small, no matter where they are on their sustainability journeys, to join us and ensure we bring about the urgent transformative change that is needed!” – Kobie Brand, Deputy Secretary General of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability and Regional Director of ICLEI Africa.
The sister platform to CitiesWithNature – RegionsWithNature – which focuses on subnational governments at the regional level and across urban-rural linkages, was officially launched on 12 December at the 7th Summit. During the awards ceremony, eight new regions and two new global partners were welcomed on board.
“Launching RegionsWithNature, together with some of the most powerful subnational leaders in the world, sends a powerful signal to the planet, and especially to the Parties of the Convention. Subnational governments are committed, they’re ready, and they’re already playing an important role in implementing concrete actions on the ground.” – Jordan Harris, Executive Director of Regions4
New cities, regions and partners joining CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature at the 7th Subnational Governments and Cities Summit
City of Oakland, USA
City of Santa Monica, USA
Lake County, USA
City of Carbondale, USA
San Francisco, USA
City of Boulder, USA
City of Boston, USA;
City of Laval, Canada;
Cartagena das Indias, Colombia
Autonomous Decentralised Municipal Government of Pastaza Cantón, Colombia
Alcaldía de Barranquilla, Colombia
Metropolitan Area of Aburrá Valley, Colombia
City of Roseau, Dominica
City of Portsmouth, Dominica
City of Utrecht, Netherlands
City of Paris, France
City of Marseille, France
Iringa Municipal Council, Tanzania,
Kisii County, Kenya,
Tswelopele, South Africa
Waterberg, South Africa,
Mukono Municipal Council, Uganda,
The District Council of Black River, Mauritius,
Hargeisa Municipality, Somalia,
City of Nagoya, Japan
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Caygan de Ouro, Philippines
Mashhad Municipality, Iran
La Rioja, Spain
Basque country, Spain
Aland islands in Finland
California in USA
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Paraná in Brazil
Jalisco in Mexico
The United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE)
WHO (World Health Organization)
CC35 (Capital Cities of the Americas)
CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature:
The Convention on Migratory Species (UN CMS)
R20 (Regions of Climate Action)
Why are CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature important?
CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature provide educational resources to ensure that cities are equipped with the knowledge and understanding of natural resources and ecosystems required to ensure that these issues are included in the cities and regions’ goals and planning.
One of the primary goals of these platforms is to keep city officials updated on best practices and lessons learned about important biodiversity topics, predominantly through the Tools and Resources section, but also by connecting cities and regions with one another. Connecting subnational and local governments facilitates much-needed collaboration across all levels of government to achieve the biodiversity goals as captured in the newly adopted Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.
“We need to strengthen our collaboration, our network, our initiative in conservation to maximize the solutions which work, through the platforms CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature.” – Benoit Charette, Minister of Environment, the Fight against Climate Change, Wildlife and Parks Québec
With 373 scientifically robust resources – including reports on topics such as nature-based solutions, ecosystems, health and well-being, and biodiversity governance, the Tools & Resources section empowers cities and regions with current and updated information on best practices.
CitiesWithNature offers Guides that package science-based information in a way that is easy to understand and accessible to cities. During COP15, CitiesWithNature announced that its Guide on light pollution, created in collaboration with the UN Convention on Migratory Species, will be launched soon.
In 2022, CitiesWithNature created its first Community of Practice – which is a platform aimed at connecting cities to learn from one another, by predominantly utilizing its chat function. The platform also aims to bring together the broader community of researchers and practitioners to connect with cities to solve biodiversity-related challenges. The first Community of Practice was launched for coastal cities, in collaboration with the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA).
Knowledge sharing has been facilitated through a range of tools and activities including targeted campaigns, news and updates, as well as webinars to empower cities with the knowledge of how to use the Action Platform. CitiesWithNature also uses its newsletter – the
Buzz – to keep cities updated with current events, news and important information, while also profiling the achievements of CitiesWithNature cities and RegionsWithNature regions in achieving their biodiversity targets.
During the 7th Summit for Subnational Governments and Cities, Regions4’s Case Study Database, one of RegionsWithNature’s new tools, was also launched. The Database is a freely accessible open source online database that showcases the subnational government experience. Currently eight case studies from six regions – Québec, Catalonia, the Basque Country, Lombardy, Jalisco, and Aichi – are available in Spanish, French, and English. Its goal is to build and develop capacities at the regional level of government, transforming on-the-ground knowledge into best practice learning opportunities in support of the implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.
Monitoring and reporting
While RegionsWithNature was only recently launched, CitiesWithNature already has an established range of tools for monitoring and reporting on cities’ biodiversity actions. Notably, the CitiesWithNature Action Platform is used to feed local and subnational level actions for biodiversity into national biodiversity planning. The action areas, commitments, actions and targets are all linked with the Sustainable Development Goals and Global Biodiversity Framework targets to ensure they align with national priorities.
This is supported by the Nature Pathway – guiding cities step by step to promote and mainstream nature into their policy, planning and actions.
During COP15, CitiesWithNature also launched the digitized version of the City Biodiversity Index, also known as the Singapore Index, which is based on the updated version of the CBI handbook. The automated calculations of this digitized version help cities establish a baseline for biodiversity to further monitor and report on their biodiversity, for example by making commitments and setting targets on the Action Platform.
Through this monitoring and reporting function, CitiesWithNature also plays a role in mobilizing the subnational and local governments Major Group by leading and providing support to critical advocacy events such as the 7th Summit and its associated Pavilion at COP15.
“CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature are recognized in the Plan of Action as being the place where subnational governments and cities can report on their commitments towards contributing to national and global biodiversity targets and track their progress, and I am really hoping to see many more commitments made on these platforms.” – Ingrid Coetzee, Director: Biodiversity, Nature & Health, ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center
To encourage cities to make use of the Action Platform, CitiesWithNature employs a reward system that acknowledges and celebrates cities’ commitments. This includes certificates, reward badges and rankings that appear on City Profiles and can be downloaded as pdfs for cities to share and keep track of their progress.
In addition to all the functionalities mentioned above, CitiesWithNature will also launch its Community and Research Hubs in the near future to further connect cities, researchers and practitioners.
Center of Excellence launched at COP15
The ICLEI-Kunming International Center of Excellence for CitiesWithNature, jointly initiated by ICLEI and Kunming City, was formally established at a signing ceremony during the 7th Summit on 12 December. 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 newly adopted Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework. The activities of the center will run in close collaboration with ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center based in Cape Town, South Africa.