The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) of South Africa in partnership with the ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability and the European Committee of the Regions, with support from the SA-EU Strategic Partnership are implementing a project titled “Catalyzing Local Government Action for the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF)”. This dialogue is articulated with the vertical dialogue series organized by the Post 2020 Biodiversity Framework – EU support project and ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center in 6 project partner countries from May to July 2021.
The project aims to enhance South Africa’s local government ability to contribute effectively to the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework targets, indicators and national commitments, which is a critical piece to achieving multiple dimensions of the Sustainable Development Goals and achieving the vision of the country’s 2013 National Development Plan. It is organized around a set of 4 thematic webinars as follow:
- The role of local government on the implementation of the CBD and overview of the Post 2020 GBF on 24 June 2021
- Review the Action Agenda for Nature and People on 1 July 2021
- Resource mobilization opportunities for the implementation of the post 2020 GBF at the local government level on 8 July 2021
- Commitment statement on 15 July 2021
The role of local government on the implementation of the CBD and overview of the Post 2020 GBF
The first webinar introduced a state-of-play as to the respective roles of local government on the implementation of the Convention of Biological Diversity in the European Union and in South Africa. In both spaces, unfortunately biodiversity targets have not been achieved and biodiversity loses continues. “Biodiversity loss is affecting our health and contributing significantly to the current pandemic. We are the next to be destroyed. The only thing we can do is to develop the Post 2020 biodiversity framework to address the environmental emergency we are in.” warned Malta Qwathekana, CBD National focal Point of South Africa.
Against that doom background, the EU highlighted the mitigated results of its mid-term biodiversity review showing as some places with very varying progress among the EU nations, which also pushed the EU to adopt a new EU biodiversity strategy to 2030 last year, without further awaiting for the Post 2020 GBF adoption.
The webinar continued providing participants with an overview of the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and discussed how local government can support the implementation of the Global Biodiversity Framework. Both stakeholders called for ambition in developing the goals and targets to ensure that at least we put the planet to a path to recovery by changing the way we think, plan and develop towards the environment. “It is really important to have a whole of government approach to mainstream biodiversity across sectors and levels of governments, with measurable targets that foster better implementation.” stressed Anne Theo Seinen, Policy Officer for Biodiversity, DG ENV European Commission.
Common ground were found on the need to address environment and development in an integrated manner, to improve quality of people’s live while maintaining healthy ecosystems for present and future generations. “We need to work with people, nature is vital for poverty eradication. We must make clear to people that their condition of living depends on nature.” later addressed Anne Theo Seinen.
Another shared perspective among South African participants and their EU counterparts is that ambition also requires a quest for inclusiveness in the negotiation process, embracing a whole-of-society approach that includes local and subnational governments across the roadmap towards CBD COP15. CBD decision XIV/34 invited local and subnational governments to actively engage and contribute to the GBF to foster strong ownership and support for its immediate implementation. This is now supported by the Edinburgh Declaration calling for a dedicated and more ambitious decision and renewed plan of action for local and subnational government, which is opened to signature by Parties and local and subnational governments up until CBD COP15. “Collaboration of South African local and subnational governments with the Edinburgh process and Declaration will be crucial for the success of CBD COP15. We must contribute and make the critical role of local and subnational governments in shaping the Post 2020 biodiversity framework acknowledged.” Kiruben Naicker, Acting Chief Director: Biodiversity Monitoring and Specialist Services, DFFE South Africa
This dialogue also comes as an opportunity to provide local and subnational governments with key milestones and tools for bold action and commitments joining the CitiesWithNature platform endorsed by the CBD and managed by ICLEI.
Review the Action Agenda for Nature and People
The session introduced key findings and recommendations of the review document on the current Plan of Action (2011 – 2020), which was co-produced by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, the Group of Leading Subnational Governments toward the Aichi Biodiversity Targets (GoLS), Regions4 Sustainable Development (Regions4), the European Committee of the Regions, the Government of Quebec and the Scottish Government.
The draft new Plan of Action for Local & Subnational Governments 2021-2030 to be adopted at CBD COP15 focuses on 7 interrelated action areas: NBSAPs, mainstreaming, resource mobilization, capacity development, communication, improved access to information, monitoring and reporting. It is urging parties – and no longer inviting them – to implement the plan as appropriate and has more emphasis on implementation and reporting with the NBSAPs than the previous plan.
“It is an action-oriented framework that parties can use & adapt according to their own priorities.” Ingrid Coetzee, Director for Biodiversity Nature & Health, ICLEI CBC
Participants were also presented the outcomes of the Edinburg process for subnational and local governments on the development of the post 2020 global biodiversity framework by the Scottish Government.
“If a Long Term Approach to Mainstreaming (LTAM) is adopted by the CBD, it will need to involve Local & Subnational Governments in the proposed multi-stakeholders platform.” Su Campbell, Representative of the Scottish Government
The discussion later went on presenting the results of the break-out groups work achieved over the previous session, expressing the needs of local and subnational government to upscale their participation in the GBF negotiation process and its coming implementation requesting better access to finance and capacity building.
“We need to be able to monitor all the actions taken for biodiversity and measure our action. We must make a business case for biodiversity at the local level, for it to be mainstreamed all the way down to local governments. Livelihood based opportunities that integrate biodiversity and put people at the center as the water-food security-service delivery nexus is critical.” Vhalinavho Khavhagali, Independent Consultant moderating the dialogue.
“South African local and subnational governments wills expressed include bridging the divide between them & civil society, to have better opportunities to discuss work on the ground and to leverage the youth to build on the passion and drive of this group.” Renira Boodhraj, Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) of South Africa
The session ended with a case study presentation on the integration and understanding of the value of biodiversity, and wetlands specifically, as green infrastructures beneficial to the environment and sustainable development. This is one the key deliverables of ICLEI’s flagship biodiversity projects in South Africa’s Garden Route Municipality.
“The situation calls for a paradigm shift in consciousness with biodiversity support projects with ecological infrastructures.” Nina Viljoen, Garden Route Municipality, South Africa
Resource mobilization opportunities for the implementation of the Post 2020 GBF at Local Governments level
This session started off with an overview of the CBD Panel of Experts on Resource Mobilisation Report by UNDP Biodiversity Finance Initiative, which highlighted that resource mobilization will require transformative, inclusive and equitable change across economies and society with three interconnected component approach: reduce or redirect biodiversity harmful subsidies, generate additional resources from all sources and enhance the effectiveness of resource use.
The European Committee of the Regions then highlighted recommendations drawn from the EU experience on resource mobilization, capacity building and awareness raising initiatives.
“Tools to promote cross-sectoral mainstreaming at sub-national level include integrated landscape management, use of natural capital accounting, biodiversity offsets, green public procurement, financial incentives from conservation and sustainable use and education and awareness raising measures.” Frida Nilsson, European Committee of the Regions
Just as recommended resource mobilization targets for the GBF by 2030 were introduced, UNDP BIOFIN later mapped out all the existing biodiversity finance solutions specific to protected areas, ecosystem restoration and sustainable use of biodiversity. The moderator asked to how to build a case for biodiversity that reconciles support traditional leadership while managing development and business expansion and urbanization that damage our goals for biodiversity.
“It is about time that local and subnational governments demand a national government project preparation facility that assists in capacity building.” Flora Mokgohloa, UNDP Biofin
A proposal was framed in that direction suggesting that SANBI could expand its capacity building program used to assist in accessing the GCF (Global Climate Fund) to all types of global funds that local and subnational governments can access for biodiversity, pooling projects to make economy of scales.
Finally, ICLEI closed up the session presenting its capacity building initiatives for local governments including opportunities and partnerships to support them in their efforts on mainstreaming biodiversity into their development plans.