IUCN Local Action Summit preparatory webinars

IUCN local action summit
Accelerating momentum and actions of subnational & local governments ahead of IUCN World Conservation Congress
Ahead of the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille, a set of four preparatory webinars are organized on June 22, 23, 29 and 30, respectively addressing outstanding nature, productive landscapes, urban biodiversity and finance & governance.

On 3 September 2021, the opening day of the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille, France, IUCN will for the first time in its history, organise a Summit dedicated to subnational governments: the IUCN Local Action Summit.

IUCN’s Members have tabled a motion to establish a subnational government IUCN Membership category, for deliberation and approaval at the Marseille World Conservation Congress in September.Thomas Brooks, Chief Scientist, IUCN

To prepare this summit, the reflection has been organised around 4 axes:

  • The first three parts will address different types of nature, namely, outstanding, ordinary and urban. For each type, a range of conservation strategies, nature-based solutions and partnerships will be examined.
  • The fourth and final part is dedicated to finance and governance, with a special focus on the green recovery.

The Summit was preceded by four preparatory webinars on 22, 23, 29 and 30 June 2021, with the support of Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework EU Support Project and the French Office for Biodiversity. These webinars presented opportunities for more in-depth discussions on subnational dimensions of nature conservation.

These four webinars showed what subnational governments are doing, how they evaluate their action, and how to ensure that these exemplary actions are generalized to accelerate momentum and build together the Future we want. More than a technical presentation of nature-based solutions, these webinars and this Summit aimed to identify which types of governance and financing modes can be mobilised per type of project.

1st Webinar – Tuesday 22 June – Local action for outstanding nature, How to conserve biodiversity hotspots

The first webinar in a series of four, this was co-chaired by Ingrid Coetzee, Director of Biodiversity, Nature and Health at ICLEI, and Meriem Bouamrane, environmental economist and Head of the Ecology and Biodiversity Section of the Division of Ecological and Earth Sciences of the Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme, UNESCO. It brought together some sixty participants around a dozen speakers: researchers such as Thomas Brooks, Chief Scientist of the IUCN, Richard Weller of the University of Pennsylvania, representatives of local authorities such as Julia Wood of the City of Cape Town (South Africa), Barbara Camier and Jérémy Delolme of the city of Saint-François in Guadeloupe (France), Yang Bo of the province of Jeju (South Korea) or of industrial sites James Spalding, former Director of the Itaipu Dam site for the Paragay. Jyoti Hosagrahar, Deputy Director of UNESCO’s World Heritage Centre, sent a video.

The theme of this webinar was the contribution of sub-national governments, cities and other local authorities to the protection, management or restoration of territories of outstanding nature – that is, all areas subject to protection or so-called Other Effective Area Conservation Measures (OACM). Three conclusions emerged from the discussions:

1 – The transformation of our lifestyles initiated by the Covid 19 pandemic invites us to rethink our relationship with nature and the way we look at these protected areas, which are now seen by sub-national governments as important places for their economic development – especially tourism – and the well-being of their population.

We need a new model of conservation and it has to be about preservation work, we have to engage human work in that actively.Richard Weller, Weitzman School of Design at Pennsylvania University

2 – Conversely, human use of these areas, when properly regulated, is an asset for their protection as well as for the preservation of the species living there.

3 – Although classification and protection decisions are sometimes taken at the international level with the support of States, our speakers – local elected representatives, researchers and UNESCO representatives – have stressed the need for strong involvement of sub-national governments for the effective implementation and full success of protection measures in the short, medium and long term.

Watch the webinar replay here.

2nd Webinar – Wednesday 23 June – “Local action for productive landscape, Achieving shared prosperity within the limits of Earth’s living systems”

Co-hosted by Oliver Hillel, Programme Officer at the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, and Stéphanie Lux, Chances Conseil, this webinar brought together some fifty participants around 5 personalities: Patrick Caron, scientist, President of Agropolis, Jin Xiaoting, Project Officer at the AFD Beijing Office and David Vasquez, Director of Environmental Management of the City of Cuenca, both local public representatives, initiators of innovative projects and, finally, two business representatives: Quentin Sannié, founder of Greenback, a brand new soil rating agency, and Valentine Lassalas, Head of European Affairs and NGOs at CNR. Terry Tamminem, former advisor to California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who initiated some of the most ambitious climate change legislation ever implemented by a sub-national government, had recorded a video for this webinar.

“Only 4% of biomass is still wild. The rest is “ordinary”. So to protect the remaining wilderness, we need to care and hence the “ordinary” nature that serves us directly across all the land and seascapes.” Oliver Hillel, Convention of Biological Diversity

All the speakers agreed on the urgency of protecting these spaces that sustain our life on earth and that are now being put at great risk by our practices, particularly agricultural. The difficulty in naming them – the concept of “ordinary” nature is difficult to translate into English: the term “productive landscape” only refers to a part of them – should be seen in the light of our difficulty in implementing effective protection.

In response to this observation, the speakers insisted on three key ideas:

1 – The need to completely rethink our agriculture can only be achieved by linking local and global action. This means, for example, reviewing not only agricultural practices but also the very organisation of markets and our consumption patterns in order to reduce our consumption of animal products and the waste of foodstuffs. To do this, we need to get away from the logic of “silo” policies: link agricultural production and nature protection. More generally, we need to rethink all our systems for exploiting natural resources to ensure that they do not irreparably destroy our ecosystems. This is exactly what the sustainable development objectives invite us to do.

2 – Local governments are often the driving force behind the restoration of “ordinary” ecosystems for the benefit of the people who live in and live from.

Through the case of Changyuanhe, we can see the necessity to engage actions on ordinary biodiversity and landscapes because of considerable ecosystem functions they can provide once well conserved and managed.Jin Xiaoting, Senior Project Officer, Beijing Office, AFD

3 – Even more than for protected areas, the mobilisation of all stakeholders is essential for the effective protection of this ordinary nature which contributes to the preservation of extraordinary nature. Everyone must do their bit according to their skills and resources.  And no company can consider this as secondary.

Watch the webinar replay here.

3rd Webinar – Tuesday 29 June – « Local action for urban nature, Creating resilient and resource-efficient communities »

Biodiversity loss and climate change: Cities are the problem and the solution!

While cities today account for the lion’s share of natural resources consumption and contribute disproportionately to climate change, biodiversity loss, waste and pollution, they also hold the solutions to building a truly ecological civilisation.

This third webinar dedicated to urban nature was co-hosted by Ingrid Coetzee, Director of Biodiversity, Nature and Health at ICLEI, and Elisabeth Chouraki, Project Officer for the Post 2020 Biodiversity Framework – EU support. It brought together about forty participants and 11 speakers.

Heads of major networks of local authorities committed to nature around the world: Kobie Brand, Deputy Director General of ICLEI, Chantal Van Ham, Acting Director of the IUCN European Regional Office, Head of IUCN’s activities on urban biodiversity and cooperation with local governments in Europe, and Russell Galt, Head of the IUCN Urban Alliance,

Responsible for strategy and implementation of urban policies for biodiversity protection: Adeniran Akanni, Director of the Environmental Planning Unit at the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources of Lagos State, Etienne Aulotte in charge of Nature & Agriculture Development Coordination at the Environment Department of the City of Brussels, Peter Frost, Urban Green Infrastructure Advisor at “Natural Resources Wales”, Philippe Jacob, Head of the Biodiversity Division of the City of Paris, and Olivier Massat, Director of the Plant Heritage and Biodiversity Department of the City of Tours,

Experts on nature-based solutions in urban areas: Harriet Bulkeley, Professor in the Department of Geography, Head of the Naturvation Program, University of Durham, Jennifer Lenhart – Global Head of the Cities Program at WWF and Canddie Magdelenat – Expert on local government and sustainable cities at WWF.

The speakers agreed on the diagnosis: Cities are home to a growing share of the world’s population.  They are exerting an increasingly unsustainable pressure on the planet’s ecosystems. And inequalities are growing: access to nature in the richest cities is unevenly distributed. The anarchic development of cities in the South threatens remarkable areas of biodiversity, which are essential for the proper functioning of all the ecosystems that make up these urban areas.  The poorest are also those who live in the most degraded environments. However, since the beginning of this century, there has been a growing awareness that another model is possible.

Towards Nature-based Recovery: World needs USD 8.1 trillion investment in nature by 2050 to tackle triple planetary crisis ” Chantal Van Ham, IUCN.

The speakers highlighted 4 key points:

  1. The mobilisation of local authorities’ networks, NGOs, citizens, elected representatives and managers is pushing many cities to act. Shared diagnosis, urban planning favouring the creation of – and access to – green spaces, differentiated management of these natural spaces in the city, renaturation of soils, implementation of measures favouring the return of plant and animal species (including pollinators) in the city are all developing.
  2. To be even more effective, cooperation between municipalities and private stakeholders – i.e. companies, businesses, housing owners, etc. – is essential to create new green spaces – including roofs and walls’ greening or the opening of private green spaces to the public. Regulations encouraging virtuous practices, labels and standards are being put in place and contribute to a virtuous dynamic.
  3. Some municipalities are working to extend their action beyond their territory to help farmers produce in a more sustainable way encouraging organic farming, and to preserve water resources.
  4. Because cities are home to a growing share of the population, and they are places of culture, innovation and exchange, the solutions for a true ecological civilisation can be found in these urban areas through the implementation of nature-based solutions.

We need to fix market failures and measure performance with the Urban nature index, and its Hub due to be launched at the IUCN Congress in Marseille.Russell Galt, IUCN Urban Alliance.

Watch the webinar replay here.

Webinar 4 – Wednesday 30 June – “Finance and governance for local action, What kind of finance and governance for a fair and ecological recovery”?

This fourth webinar dedicated to finance and governance was co-hosted by Frédéric Audras, Head of the Urban Development, Planning and Housing Department at AFD, and Stéphanie Lux, Chances Conseil. It brought together about forty participants and 9 speakers:

Pascal Lamy, President of the Paris Peace Forum, keynote speaker,

– Representatives of international institutions: Louise Baker, Managing Director of the Global Mechanism for the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, Katia Karousakis, Head of the Biodiversity Programme at the OECD, Sameh Wahba, Global Director of Urban Practice, Disaster Risk Management, Resilience and Land, World Bank Global Practice in Urban Practice, Disaster Risk Management, Resilience and Land

– A regional organization representative: Arnault Graves, Senior Climate Advisor at the Union for the Mediterranean Secretariat,

– Experts on green finance issues: Mélanie Hernoult, Blended Finance Project Manager, Sustainable Finance Market, BNP Paribas, Alessandra Andreazzi Péres, Senior Specialist on Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Climate Finance, GEF/CITinova Project Brasília/CEB – Brasília Energy Company,

Christophe Nuttall, Founder of the R20, initiator of the investment fund dedicated to sub-national governments supported by the IUCN: the Subnational Climate Fund,

Gaël Giraud, former Chief Economist of the AFD and Director of the Environmental Justice Research Program at Georgetown University, Washington.

All the speakers share a common diagnosis characterised by 4 elements:

– Our development models are not sustainable and are depleting our natural resources.

– The climate crisis is endangering our economies in both the North and the South.

– Changing our model requires massive investments.  The post-Covid recovery plans are a real opportunity to invest in green and blue infrastructure.

– Cities must seize this opportunity to implement nature-based solutions and thus recreate the jobs lost during the pandemic.

Four levers must be used to implement the necessary changes:

– Policy reforms: market organisation, regulations and criteria for subsidies and grants do not encourage the financing of green and blue infrastructure, sustainable production systems or nature-based solutions.

In cities, like in the countryside, you reap what you sow: investing in green spaces yields a host of benefit. The payoffs in terms of cooling, flood control, health and even happiness vastly outweight the costs of thinking ahead and thinking green.” Sameh Wahba, Global Director, World Bank’s Urban, Disaster Risk Management, Resilience and Land Global Practice.

– Strengthening cooperation between sub-national governments and the private sector: Nature-based solutions, green and blue infrastructure and sustainable production systems need to be designed and implemented locally. In this sense, sub-national governments are well placed toensure their implementation. However, sub-national governments’ access to funding is often hampered by the fact that their requests for funds are considered too low to access public donor funds. Strengthening the cooperation between subnational governments and private sector could be a way to improve their access public funding.

– An increase in the number of sustainably virtuous projects: while projects related to renewable energy production are well documented and technically mature, this is not yet the case for nature-based solutions, green and blue infrastructure or sustainable production methods. There is a real need for knowledge on the medium and long terms benefits of implementing these innovations. Sub-national governments are territories of experimentation that could benefit from cooperation with businesses and the scientific community.

– A need for greater synergies between sub-national and global levels of government to combine changes in production and consumption patterns with the necessary reforms in market organisation.

The green transition comes with a number of challenges that make transformation necessary.Pascal Lamy, CEO of Paris Peace Forum. 

Watch the webinar replay here.

Check out the webinars’ programmes and watch them here.

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