Daring Cities 2020 – a Global Virtual Forum for Urban Leaders

Engaging with the local and subnational governments on Urban October
Following on from the release of the Edinburgh Declaration, which calls for greater prominence to be given to the role that subnational and local governments play in delivering a new global framework of targets under the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, and the address given by Mayor Valerie Plante of Montreal and ICLEI’s Global Ambassador for Local Biodiversity to the UN Summit on Biodiversity on 30 September, ICLEI and the City of Bonn co-host Daring Cities 2020, the Global Virtual Forum for Urban Leaders taking on the Climate Emergency from October 7th to 28rd.

In the wake of October 5th World Habitat Day, the event will showcase the immense value and multiple benefits provided by Nature to urban communities across all the Urban October campaign set up by UN Habitat. In the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, the innovative 3-weeks-long global mobilization format will make the case for an integrated approach to climate and biodiversity increasing urban resilience with nature-based solutions.

In partnership with ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center, the Post 2020 Biodiversity Framework – EU support will engage with the local and subnational governments’ climate community across the forum through a set of four thematic sessions and a high level event.

Leading urban climate leaders to commit for Nature

On October 8th, two sessions integrated as part of ICLEI CBC Post 2020 Local and Subnational Government Information Webinars will call local urban leaders to join the CitiesWithNature platform and gain further ownership of the post 2020 biodiversity framework negotiation and coming implementation via the Edinburgh Process outcomes.

Session 1 – Exploring the Linkages Between the Global Climate and Nature Advocacy Agendas

Cities are increasingly seen as protectors and restorers of nature, and allowing urban nature to thrive will help us with our double crisis of biodiversity loss and climate change.” Harriet Buckley, Professor of Geography and Coordinator of NATURVATION, Durham University, Durham, United Kingdom

The critical role of local and subnational governments in the global biodiversity and climate agendas of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD) lies in three ingredients that propel action: contribution, capacity and co-benefits. An analytical review of the two conventions roadmaps proved how they mutually influenced each other and lead into a global consensus that we are going through a single pathway with the SDGs, that must integrate all the Rio Conventions.

“In the baby steps of rebuilding a new era, the more international & national authorities will embrace their local communities, the better they will address jointly the climate & biodiversity challenges. Be daring !”  Yunus Arikan, Director of Global Advocacy & LGMA Focal Point to the UNFCCC, ICLEI


This new understanding also entails that a global agreement a successful agenda of action must either embrace or raise the ambition with local & subnational governments This is why the roadmap to the UN CBD COP 15 must seize all opportunities to engage local and subnational governments. The insights of cities how local and subnational governments can contribute to achieving both climate and biodiversity targets simultaneously and how this integrated approach is also reflected in their own internal organization, bringing the very needed breakthrough change.

“When you take the SDGs, how can you implement one without the others? How can you manage & conserve life on land without the other goals successfully implemented? You can’t, it’s a puzzle. We’re talking about CitiesWithNaturenow.”  Susanne Nolden, Department of International Affairs and Global Sustainability, City of Bonn

Session 2 – Introducing CitiesWithNature to Daring Cities for Climate Resilience

CitiesWithNature is endorsed by the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity as the space for cities and regions to share their ambitions, make their commitments, and monitor and report on their progress in demonstrating their contributions to achieving the global biodiversity agenda.

Platforms like CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature are important in helping subnational governments to report their actions on biodiversity. It’s important for themselves & also to report back to national government.” Robie Biwer, European Committee of Regions


The new and soon to come features of the platform – including a Community hub, a Commitment Platform, a Knowledge & Research hub – engage local and subnational governments to take a journey the hub for a better understanding of how their city can become one daring enough to demonstrate their commitment to nature.

“Local action even in a very small city, influence the very global and delicate balance of nature that underpins our lives.” Martina Otto, Head of Cities & Lifestyles – UNEP


They called decision makers to address the opportunity gap working with cities to leverage the multiple benefits of nature towards environmental goals and size the full potential of working with nature in cities.

The newly released Living Planet Index shows the urgency for addressing biodiversity loss. We are moving into the urban nature based solutions space and want to create biological corridors moving into cities.” Jennifer Lenhart, Global Lead WWF Cities, WWF Sweden


Financing and building greener cities

Just as it’s within our cities and towns that communities experience the interlinked impacts of climate change, biodiversity loss and health crises first hand, those webinars will catalyze exemplary local climate action, and advocate for financing and building greener cities.

Session 3 – Financing Greener Cities for the Future: Resource Mobilization for Nature-Based Solutions

On October 13rd, the session provided insights on ways that local governments mobilize financial resources for the protection of biodiversity. Tracey Cumming from the UNDP BIOFIN project highlighted the need to balance out the focus given to new resources generations as compared to the reduction and reduction of harmful subsidies, and the improvement of resource use efficiency and effectiveness.

Nature’s complexity lies in its connections, this is why the Natural Capital Coalition united the human, social and ecological communities together. The challenge we are going to have now is the standardization. Before engaging a finance mechanism, how when do we check its nature-consistency?“  Marc Gough, Natural Capital Coalition

OECD representative, Katia Karousakis recalled that beneficiary pays approach directly engage with the private sector, such as payment for ecosystem services programs would need to be expanded as the 10 of the national largest companies investing for ecosystem services payment only represent 10 bn $/year.

To meet the growing challenges around green infrastructures and services, insurance companies and finance bodies have to harness better the potential of nature-based solution and jointly thinking about the policy frameworks in place, regulations as they come together with financing as a package.

Among the innovative approaches used to mobilize resources for the local government level to up-scale the implementation of nature-based solutions (NBS), UNDP BIOFIN highlighted its methodology focusing on the drivers of change at the country level to later design tailor-made solutions. The GEF recalled that as cities are doubling in population and surface with 60-70% of infrastructures yet to be built, the post-pandemic moments are instrumental to let down grey infrastructures for green ones. The GEF Sustainable Cities Program integrates 50 cities from the developing world and incentives them to implement nature-based solutions as part of their urban development planning and show their impact.

Urban sprawl is the major challenge affecting nature: integrated urban planning based on human and natural systems integration is instrumental, to create path for nature-based solutions and green infrastructure investments.” Aloke Barnwal, Global Environment Facility

Session 4 – A Nexus Approach to Nature’s Multiple Benefits to Build Resilience in Urban Areas

On October 26th, this session explored the potential that a nexus approach nature – climate – health have in terms of creating new insights, pathways and processes to bolster nature’s support to climate mitigation and adaptation and human health and well-being in cities. Despite wide acknowledgement of the multiple and intersecting benefits of nature to urban societies, the operationalization of these co-benefits and the body of evidence to support the value of urban nature, is lagging behind. Given the challenges and limitations to adopting Nature-based Solutions and investing in urban nature, Dr. Timon McPhearson, Associate Professor of Urban Ecology, Director of the Urban Systems Lab in New York city suggested to focus on a conceptual/thinking tool leading to novel ways of designing nature-based interventions, collaborating and investing in nature to operationalize the multiple benefits of nature to climate and health.

“Allowing for temporary retaking of spaces in cities, in between buildings, giving them over to local groups & communities for green spaces is a first step towards increasing our resilience.” Pr Harriet Bulkeley, Department of Geography, Durham University/NATURVATION

The world dissemination is one-way, we need to rather ENGAGE people two ways finding a mixed approach.” David Maddox, Executive Director: The Nature of Cities

“In cities, the outcome of Nature Based Solutions will often not directlty connect to biodiversity but will produce biodiversity benefits.” Peter Massini, Lead: Green Infrastructure, Greater London Authority

For a Renewed Decision on Local and Subnational Governments

On October 22nd, a high level event “Towards Adopting a Renewed Decision on Local and Subnational Governments at the Biodiversity COP” will gather urban biodiversity champions and like-minded cities willing to further commit for Nature, supporting them to make their voices heard as part of Post-2020 process.

This event will discuss the critical role of local and subnational governments in the implementation of the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, as it has been increasingly recognized by the CBD for over a decade, and significantly strengthened by the adoption by CBD Parties of Decision X/22 in Nagoya, Japan in 2010, which endorsed a Plan of Action on Subnational Governments, Cities, and Other Local Authorities for Biodiversity (2011-2020). The event will challenge cities to be daring enough to not only making ambitious commitments to achieving the global climate agenda, but also to achieving the global biodiversity agenda. The event will seek to achieve the following outcomes:

  • Present the outcomes of the Edinburgh Process for Subnational and Local Governments on the development of the Post 2020 GBF and call for Daring Cities to sign the Edinburgh Declaration
  • Introduce the new members of the Advisory Committee on Cities and Biodiversity to a global audience
  • Call and mobilize support for a renewed and more ambitious dedicated Decision on local and subnational governments to be adopted at CBD COP 15, to Daring Cities
  • Demonstrate support for a dedicated Decision on local and subnational governments among key local and subnational network partners
  • Announce the 7th Global Biodiversity Summit of Local and Subnational Governments in Kunming China in 2021

Ahead of October 31rst World Cities Day 2020, the forum will echo the themes selected “Better City, Better Life” and the sub-theme “Valuing our communities and cities”, empowering cities as drivers of ecological change and human well-being for a green recovery.

“Whilst it is the role of Parties to agree on the global framework, the delivery role of all levels of government must be reflected. […] Subnational Authorities, including cities, have a vital role in turning global strategies into tangible actions.” Keith Connal, Deputy Director for the Natural Resources Division, Scottish Government

All speakers recalled that Nature was not just an international matter, and that ambitious local actions were part and parcel of an efficient strategy to halt biodiversity loss. As such, they called for the recognition of their contribution, in words and actions, and for a local to global, whole-of-society approach to guide the path to CBD COP15

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