Humankind and all other forms of life directly depend on biodiversity for their very existence. It is well-recognised that biodiversity and ecosystems generate, mediate and underpin numerous resource flows into cities such as fresh water, energy and food. In addition, approximately 40% of the world’s economy depends on the Earth’s natural biological resources and associated ecosystem services for sustained growth.Out of the 24 ecosystem services that make a direct contribution to human well-being and the global economy, 15 are in rapid decline; current global biodiversity is being lost at an unprecedented rate. This is mainly due to rapid human development and expansion as well as climate change.
In addition, with ever expanding population levels, the world is undergoing dramatic urban expansion, with more than 90% of the world’s population being forecasted to live in urban areas by 2100. This urban expansion will heavily draw on natural resources on a global scale, with severe knock-on effects for biodiversity and ecosystem services and consequently for cities in the form of reduced ecosystem services. In order to maintain critical biodiversity and ecosystem services for the benefit of humans, cities need to increasingly mainstream biodiversity conservation into urban planning and design. A shift toward planning for ‘urban green growth’ is imperative, not only to secure sustainable ecosystem services and resource flows, but also to ensure resilience in the face of climate change.Local governments play a critical role in this regard and the programs under ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center have demonstrated that cities and local governments can make tangible contributions to nature conservation and biodiversity management globally through local actions.