Opening Statement by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability & the Advisory Committee of Subnational Governments for Biodiversity
at the Open Ended Working Group 1, Nairobi, Kenya
27 August 2019.08.27
Kobie Brand, Global Director: ICLEI CBC

Honourable Co-chairs, distinguished delegates, we address you on behalf of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability and the Advisory Committee of Subnational Governments for Biodiversity. The Advisory Committee is coordinated by the Government of Québec and we take this opportunity to thank our Canadian colleagues for their continuous support.

For the successful implementation of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, the world needs cities and regions.  Local and subnational governments make and execute decisions daily on infrastructure and land-use. These actions impact directly on nature, often with irreversible consequences. Decisions taken by these governments can contribute significantly to reverse extinction risk trends and change people’s behaviours.

Instead, we see an alarming trend where urban communities are increasingly disconnecting – spiritually, mentally, physically and socially – from nature, while current consumption and production patterns overshoot Earth’s capacity.

Cities and other urban hubs per se are not “the problem”. They are hubs of innovation, where research institutes, business and governments are based, change-makers and thought-leaders live, work and play, and where solutions are generated. Cities and regions can contribute significantly to protecting and restoring biodiversity and reconnecting humanity with nature, thus addressing the loss of biodiversity and natural systems in tangible and immediate ways, while enhancing the quality of life for all.

People are cities’ most powerful attribute. The collective voice, determination and actions of a city’s people can affect change far beyond its boundaries. Cities and regions are already taking leadership and actions through a myriad of initiatives and partnerships, and have been active at the regional consultations, the Trondheim Conference, Nature Champions Summit and meeting of Metropolitan Authorities held recently in Medellin. We are present, committed and ready to contribute in concrete ways.

ICLEI and the Advisory Committee of Subnational Governments for Biodiversity notes that Parties have already recognized the pivotal role of local and subnational governments and committed to supporting them in CBD COP decisions since 2008. The most notable is the 10-year Plan of Action on Subnational Governments, Cities and other Local Authorities, adopted at COP10.

As this “Plan of Action” draws to a close, we call for a significantly stepped-up commitment by the Parties to support, and work with, all levels of subnational government on mainstreaming biodiversity actions, nature-based solutions and restoring the vital connect between people and nature in our cities and regions.

Now, as never before, all subnational governments and their communities must act individually and collectively to support the transformative global change needed. We do not want to be observers, we want to be partners. The next global biodiversity framework will require a “whole of society approach, to allow stakeholders to recognize themselves as enablers of its implementation, as stated by Ms Andersen in her opening remarks today.

The notion of recognition of all, including of all levels of subnational governments, is essential to effectively protect biodiversity worldwide. Subnational governments can ensure vertical integration of biodiversity policies, while raising awareness and inclusiveness of civil society and other stakeholders, including the private and financial sector.

To this end, both ICLEI and the Advisory Committee of Subnational Governments for Biodiversity are developing statements as contributions to the new Global Biodiversity Framework. ICLEI proposes a Draft “Ten-Point Framework for Subnational Biodiversity Action” as essential component of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, which includes a focus on:

  • Multi-level governance, mainstreaming and localising biodiversity in other global agendas such as climate change and the SDGs
  • An inclusive action-oriented engagement mechanism
  • Increased resource mobilisation
  • Support for the CitiesWithNature commitment and reporting platform
  • And most importantly A strong, dedicated COP Decision on local and subnational governments

We look forward to discuss these points further and how local and subnational governments can contribute concretely to the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework with you.

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