Local Action for Biodiversity (LAB) is ICLEI’s flagship biodiversity program developed in partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Customized for local and regional authorities around the world, the programme seeks to improve biodiversity planning and management at the local level.

Programme details

Local Action for Biodiversity (LAB) is a unique global biodiversity programme run by ICLEI CBC, in partnership with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). LAB employs an approach which is action oriented and customized for local and regional authorities around the world. The LAB Program is aimed at improving and enhancing ecosystem management at the local level, and is recognized globally as the leading results-driven local government biodiversity initiative.

Established in 2006 as a pilot program with 21 pioneering local governments from across the globe, the LAB Program has expanded to include numerous local governments and additional focus areas, including communication, education and public awareness (CEPA) and climate change, aimed at tackling the complex challenges facing local biodiversity management. The LAB Program’s result based record and contributing to local biodiversity planning and management makes LAB a key component of the CBD’s Global Partnership on Local and Sub-national Action for Biodiversity, which is dedicated to ensuring the achievement of the CBD objectives through joint local action.

The LAB Program is undertaken in a five step, non-linear process coordinated by the ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center, providing technical support and guidance to participants throughout the five steps of the LAB Programme. The Program is an accessible and enabling platform for committed, leading local governments from around the world, and provides numerous opportunities for profiling, promoting the importance of urban biodiversity and the role of local governments in its management. The LAB Program also provides numerous opportunities for networking and lesson sharing on the successes and challenges of urban biodiversity management with participant cities from all over the world, through regular workshops, webinars, conferences and other relevant knowledge sharing platforms.

LAB Goals

By recognising the role of local governments in the sustainable management of urban biodiversity, ICLEI’s LAB Programme highlights the need for increased political support for biodiversity at local level and the integration of biodiversity considerations into all aspects of local governance. The LAB Initiative aims to address these concerns through the following project goals:

  • Profiling local governments and the important role they play in biodiversity management.
  • Advocating for, and promoting the importance of, urban biodiversity worldwide.
  • Raising the status of local government’s management of urban biodiversity.
  • Actively mainstreaming biodiversity into all decision-making and planning processes at local level.
  • Facilitating lesson-sharing among local authorities across the globe.
  • Producing and disseminating good practice biodiversity case examples.
  • Leading the way for the next generation of participating cities in future ICLEI/ LAB programs.
  • Cooperating and networking globally with a wide range of stakeholders.

The LAB Program also focuses on developing a local government network for biodiversity action. This network has been instrumental in promoting a better understanding of local government biodiversity issues, leading to the implementation of appropriate measures within local governments worldwide.

LAB Projects

LAB Pioneer 5-step process

From 2006 to 2009, 21 local governments took part in the pilot phase of the LAB program. The 21 Original LAB Pioneers, as they are known, are global leaders in biodiversity management and have played a significant role in making the LAB Program the success that is today. Due to the success of the LAB pilot phase, LAB continues to take New Pioneer local governments through the 5-step process to improve and enhance their biodiversity management, building upon the solid foundation laid by the original Pioneers.

1. Biodiversity Assessment:

Participating local governments ascertain the status quo of biodiversity and ecosystem services within their borders, as well as current biodiversity management structures, communication, education and public awareness, and any relevant activities. This is published as a glossy document that is used to profile participants’ biodiversity, and is also useful as a consolidated source of biodiversity information.

2. Political Commitment:

The Mayor signs The Durban Commitment: Local Governments for Biodiversity, an international commitment to reduce biodiversity loss and improve local biodiversity management.

3. Biodiversity Planning:

A Local Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plan (LBSAP) is formulated that outlines the broader biodiversity strategies and details specific actions to achieve these strategies.

4. Political Approval:

The LBSAP goes through the official process to gain council approval (or equivalent).

5. Biodiversity Implementation:

3 biodiversity projects, as outlined in the LBSAP, are implemented on the ground.

For each of the steps above, detailed guidelines developed specifically for local governments are provided, while extensive correspondence and contact with the ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center technical team guides each participating local government through the LAB process. In addition, technical expertise and resources, as well as specialist training workshops and webinars, networking opportunities, profiling for the city, and advocacy are the core functions offered to each local government by the ICLEI CBC team.

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