UNFCCC – COP27: The Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and the climate-biodiversity nexus

What it means for Cities, Subnational and Local Governments and Non-State Actors

The scale of the challenges faced by Nature and Humanity is too large for any country, sector, organization or initiative to tackle alone. Biodiversity loss and climate change are twin crises and must be addressed jointly. Transforming our economies and societies is what we need to do.

Commitments & Pledges, Subnational & Local Governments, Transformative change.

At a critical time for both the climate and biodiversity negotiations, our project organized in partnership with IDDRI, ICLEI, Cities and Regions in the UNFCCC Process and the Scottish government an event at UNFCCC COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh on November the 14th.

Subnational governments and cities all over the world must respond to both the climate and the biodiversity crises. Growing urban sustainability awareness is encouraging, as cities are greening their urban fabric to help halt and reverse biodiversity loss.

CitiesWithNature, the Berlin Pact (currently under development) and the Edinburgh Declaration all support the Plan of Action to be adopted in support of the GBF at the CBDCOP15 in Montreal next December.

In that overall context what is the role of Subnational and local Governments and non-State actors in addressing the climate-biodiversity nexus and implementing a transformative Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) at COP15?

The GBF should include ambitious but reachable goals for halting and reversing biodiversity loss, strengthening climate action, building sustainable cities and public planning. To achieve these goals and objectives, actions from all levels of government are required, as it has become very clear that unless we act locally, we will not see global change.

At our event at the Multivel Pavilion, Mr. Basile van Havre, Co-Chair, CBD Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) declared ”There was a very clear desire to make the new framework for all.(…) There was a very clear desire from us (the 2 co-chairs) to have a language that tie the subnational governments and the cities.

Francis Ogwal, OEWG Co-Chair, added that “The actions will take place at national level. So, the subnational and local governments have a critical role to play for the implementation of the Global Biodiversity Framework.

The two Co-chairs were sincerely praised by Kobie Brand, the Biodiversity, Nature and Health Director of ICLEI for their immense contributions in integrating the role of subnational and local governments for the GBF implementation.

One of the major advantages of integrating local governments into the GBF is that it speaks to the underpinning essence of the Post-2020 GBF” she said.

At a crucial time for the negotiations, the project provided a grant to ICLEI and supported its global campaign CitiesWithNature to mobilise cities and SNLGS across the globe. Numerous webinars on the CBD negotiation process were organized for local governments. “With the support of the Post 2020 Biodiversity Framework – EU support project, we have been able in 2020 & 2021 to engage and keep the subnational and local governments up-to-date on key milestones discussed at the OEWG meetings.” Kobie Brand declared.

However, locally-led solutions must be combined with a series of structural changes, such as eliminating environmentally harmful subsidies and ensuring mainstreaming of biodiversity into government policies. Subnational and local governments as well as cities must plan and prepare a green, sustainable future while also being the first responders to the biodiversity crisis.

”Addressing the climate change and biodiversity crises as an integrated manner is absolutely crucial. And the implementation on the ground cannot wait. The subnational and local Governments are the carriers of hope.” said Karin Zaunberger, Policy Officer, Biodiversity Unit, Directorate General for Environment – European Commission.

Gavin Edwards, the Global Nature-Positive Initiative Director at WWF International, highlighted how nature-based solutions are already making change happen on the ground giving the example of the Hong Kong WWF seafood guide aiming at restoring depleted local fish stock regionally. “We all know the story of mangrove restoration and of local sustainable shrimp to support the local community as well, and that’s also something that benefits the city of Hong Kong and allows people to learn about conservation for the first time.

Shifting the private sector towards nature-positive investments and business-models is also key for the success of the GBF. The Business for Nature (BfN) and Nature-positive campaigns which call on governments to adopt policies to reverse nature loss are also decisive.

”Business and financial institutions call on governments to adopt mandatory disclosure on nature impacts and dependencies. They stand ready to act towards halting and reversing nature loss.” said Michael Ofosuhene-Wise, Climate and Nature Manager – Business for Nature.

Long-term commitments, which can be realized by redesigning national frameworks such as National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans, can also encourage businesses to invest in biodiversity-friendly activities.

“Avoiding major failure on climate and biodiversity requires ensuring the highest integrity in both arenas: we must conserve nature alongside – not instead of – very deep and rapid GHG emission cuts.” Alexandra Deprez, Research Fellow, Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI).

As a result, what happens in Egypt will also have an impact on the negotiations in Canada to take place in the coming weeks. As many said during COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, there is no Paris agreement if we do not have a strong Montreal agreement.

Ahead of COP15, Hugo Rivera Mendoza, Team Leader, Post 2020 Biodiversity Framework – EU support project, who moderated the event, concluded: “Today was the day. Ahead of COP15, we raised together awareness and mobilized cities and subnational governments for biodiversity at the Multilevel Pavilion here at UNFCCC COP27.”

In turn, COP15 should, as an historic moment, see the adoption of a transformative GBF that will pave the way for our first steps towards reversing biodiversity loss and reaching a nature-positive world by 2030.

Watch the recording here.

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