With the support of the Post 20202 Biodiversity Framework.EU support project, ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center holds monthly webinars to keep the local and subnational governments (SLNGs) constituency, networks, and partners up to date on key milestones and the participatory preparation process of the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework on the roadmap to COP15.
Following up to the release of the First Draft of the Post-2020 global biodiversity framework on July 12, the webinar gathered representatives of ICLEI’s offices and secretariats across the world (Africa, East Asia – India & China, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean) across two sessions to provide an overview of its content and discuss its impact, challenges and importance.
Ingrid Coetzee for ICLEI Cities Biodiversity informed participating constituencies over the new dates of the Open Ended Working Group 3, now scheduled under an online format from August 23 to September 3, where the new draft will be discussed by the CBD parties. Reflecting on whether the First Draft properly addressed cities and regions as compared to the Zero Draft, an improvement was noted as its Mission now includes a reference to their role stating “the GBF aims to facilitate implementation which will be primarily through activities at the national level, with supporting action at the subnational levels…” and notes the updated Plan of Action for Local and Subnational Government, thus institutionalizing SLNGs role. Pushing for a whole of government and a whole of society approach, the framework’s 2050 Vision Living in Harmony with Nature also calls for a participatory and inclusive approach that engages actors beyond national governments, including subnational governments, cities and other local authorities.
Yet while a number of action targets will influence the abilities of SLNGs to meet those targets, only two of them expressly address cities in their framing. Those are target 12 on access to green and blue spaces, and target 14 on the integration of biodiversity values into policies, regulations, planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies, accounts, and assessment of environmental impact at all levels of government. Rodrigo Perpetuo from ICLEI Latin America and Caribbean Secretariat highlighted that “Important messages from the Sao Letter are standing in the first draft: ecosystem restoration, youth and civil society.” ICLEI China office reported that it was perceived as an encouraging signal really matching the Chinese context as local governments now interact with local companies and see how they can be involved, and cities network are currently engage in an active discussion with the World Bank and International Asian Development Bank on financing urban biodiversity.
However, the enabling conditions could be a lot more ambitious as to the role of SLNGs. On monitoring and reporting for instance, their contributions shall be captured and aggregated at the national level. The wording used in the draft 1 is “encourage” which does not give sufficient impetus.
“The monitoring framework must include local governments or they will lose interest and their cohesion will fall apart. We must institutionalize urban local government in the framework as it is still missing in draft 1.” Monalisa Sen, ICLEI Asia – India
Equally in its Tools and Solutions section, the GBF makes a reference to implementation support mechanism but it does not pool it down enough for local and subnational governments. The actual articulation with SLNGs remains a bit fuzzy. “There is need for common standardized indicators for Chinese cities to benchmark with international practices that is not in the framework. It would be really helpful to have such analysis.” Merlin Lao, ICLEI East Asia – China
It is precisely when it comes down to the practical implementation needs that the rubber hits the road. According to many, a specific wording for support to resource mobilization and capacity building at the local level and in the setting of the targets is still missing in Draft1.
“In South Africa, the discussion is about the capacity, not only in terms of numbers but also skills. We need to empower the lower levels of governments. The means of implementation, especially as it is hard for cities to access funding. The various funders’ access must be opened up (banks, etc.). We need to take it to the next levels.” Ingrid Coetzee, ICLEI CBC
Political barriers still stand on the way, and only a clear political mandate framed though GBF could indeed force more cities to look for capacities and undertake biodiversity integration. For instance, in India, there is no other local government with a background in ecology or forestry in local administration and capacity building is needed to train the engineers on those themes, and see how ecosystem services can be integrated. In China, pilot project and successful cases with feasible results are required to scale up action, but for biodiversity projects there is a lack of interest for public private partnership – whereas it is very common in many fields – as political staff are not reporting biodiversity policy to their people in the short term.
The Edinburgh Declaration picked traction on themes such as resource mobilization and capacity building but also the themes of equity and injustice. Yet, one third of its signatories for now are Europeans and the level of sensibilization to the biodiversity roadmap to change and transform the territories could still significantly improve in the coming month towards CBD COP15.
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Watch ICLEI’s Post 2020 webinars here
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These webinars help echoing and organizing the voice of local and subnational governments in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) for advancing the Action Agenda for Nature and People and in the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) development process.