As the 2019 IPBES Global Assessment makes clear, the growing pressures of urbanisation threaten global goals for biodiversity. At the same time, there is growing evidence that cities can provide opportunities for conserving, restoring and thriving with nature. The 5th Global Biodiversity Outlook identified sustainable cities and infrastructure as one of 8 transition pathways to living in harmony with nature and to achieving the 2050 Biodiversity Vision. Responding to this potential, Ecologic Institute together with the ICLEI African Secretariat and Durham University co-organized a session 'Urban Action Towards a New Deal for Nature' at the IUCN World Conservation Congress on 7 September 2021. The session, moderated by Ecologic Institute's McKenna Davis, demonstrated the success of urban action for biodiversity through evidence and experiences from around the world.
The session consisted of a series of targeted presentations to set the scene, followed by inputs from city representatives to demonstrate the commitments and actions for conservation already being taken. Under the auspices the CitiesWithNature platform – the official platform for local and subnational governments to connect and report on their ambitions and commitments towards the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework – we heard from representatives of cities from the USA, South Africa, Portugal and India. Such action is crucial not only because of the physical impact on the natural world that urbanisation is having, but because cities and subnational governments are uniquely positioned as arenas through which to reach the majority of the world's population. This will be key if we are to realise the benefits of mainstreaming nature-based solutions for combatting climate change and achieving the SDGs. City inputs were followed by a lively panel discussion, which served to identify key strategies and measures that are needed to support, embed and accelerate this work.
Presentations were held by:
- Su Campbell, Scottish Government
- Ingrid Coetzee, ICLEI African Secretariat
- Mas Dojiri, city of Los Angeles' Sanitation & Environment
- Andrew DeLeeuw, Washtenaw County Director of Strategic Planning
- Jullia Wood, Manager of Biodiversity in the city of Cape Town
- João Melo, Director of Cacais Ambiente
- Sanjay Prasad, Kurseong Municipality in Darjeeling India
Moderation: McKenna Davis, Ecologic Institute