To underline key actions the CoR believes local and regional authorities can and should undertake to support the implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy and the achievement of its targets, thereby also contributing to the achievement of the Strategic plan and Aichi targets agreed at CBD COP 10.
To stress key support actions the CoR expects from Member States to assist local and regional authorities in this, taking into account the mission, objectives and indicative list of actions of Decision X/22 of the CBD, the "Plan of Action on Subnational Governments, Cities and other Local Authorities for Biodiversity (2011-2020)";
To present CoR recommendations for consideration by the European Commission in its mid-term review of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020;
To present CoR recommendations for consideration by the European Commission in its reporting to the CBD on Decision X/22 CBD.
The Outlook Opinion has substantially increased the profile and inter-institutional recognition of the CoR by the Council, the European Commission, the CBD Secretariat and key global associations of local and regional authorities in the field, in particular:
The Opinion has contributed, as an Outlook Opinion referral from the European Commission, to the successful implementation of the CoR/EC Cooperation Agreement.
The Opinion, and in particular the accompanying study and online-survey commissioned by the ENVE Secretariat enabled the CoR to substantially reinforce its cooperation with the European Commission and, by implementing the MoU signed by the CoR with UNEP, with UNEP and the CBD Secretariat, and its networking with key European and international stakeholders in the field.
The production of a CoR brochure on the Opinion and the related study and its dissemination at major EU events and at CBD COP 12, and the reference to CoR work included in the global CBD/ICLEI newsletter for CBD COP 12, increased the European and global visibility of the CoR in the field.
The activities of the rapporteur and the ENVE Secretariat have substantially contributed to increasing the profile and institutional recognition in the field, in particular the efficient meetings with the Greek EU Presidency and the European Commission prior to CBD COP 12; the participation in the EU delegation to CBD COP 12 and bilateral meetings of the rapporteur and good cooperation achieved at the COP with the Italian EU Presidency, the European Commissioner for Environment, including participation in a high-level dinner for the EU delegation, the Executive Secretary of the CBD, and partners of the CBD Advisory Committees of Cities and of Subnational Governments on Biodiversity; the participation of the rapporteur in several European events, such as a conference on the EU contribution to the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014, hosted by the CoR, the Science-Policy-Stakeholders-Society High-level Conference "Nature-based solutions" in the European Parliament, and the Annual Conference of the European Learning Network on Regions and Biodiversity;, and the rapporteur's representation of the CoR in the jury of the new EU Natura 2000 Award.
As a concrete follow-up activity in 2015, the ENVE Secretariat will co-organise with the CBD Secretariat, within the framework of the CoR-UNEP MoU, a side event of the 4th Assises of decentralised cooperation in June 2015, on decentralised cooperation for advancing resource mobilisation for meeting the international biodiversity targets.
The Opinion allowed the CoR to feed at an early stage the concerns of the EU's local and regional authorities into the preparations of the European Commission of its midterm review of the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2020 due in 2015, to contribute to the 5th National Report of the EU to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), to the Council Conclusions on the Twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 12) to the (CBD), to the decisions adopted by CBD COP 12, to the "Gangwon/Pyeongchang Resolution for Cities and Subnational Governments" adopted by the "Biodiversity Summit for Cities and Subnational Governments" held in parallel to COP 12, and to contribute to the implementation of the CBD Decision X/22"Plan of Action on Subnational Governments, Cities and other Local Authorities for Biodiversity (2011-2020)".
This implies concretely:
Council conclusions of 12 June 2014 on the Preparation of the Twelfth meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 12) to the CBD (Pyeongchang, Republic of Korea, 6 to 17 October 2014)
Following a meeting the rapporteur had with the Greek Presidency of the Council, the Presidency inserted at last minute in the Council Conclusions the following element (highlighted in bold):
"WELCOMES the progress made by the EU and its Member States in the implementation of the Strategic Plan, including through updates of their National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs), and the reinforced implementation of those plans as a contribution towards the achievement of the Aichi Targets; and RECOGNISES the role of local and regional authorities in advancing progress in implementing the Strategic Plan and achieving the Aichi Targets ;"
5th National Report of EU to the CBD, see http://www.cbd.int/doc/world/eur/eur-nr-05-en.pdf
Following the close contacts the rapporteur had with the European Commission during the drafting process of the CoR Opinion, the 5th National Report of EU to the CBD states, in line with points 60 and 62 of the CoR opinion, on page 14:
"The EU welcomes the involvement of the Committee of the Regions in the implementation framework. The EU recognises the key role played by local and regional authorities, together with Member States, in the delivery of a multilevel, cooperative and integrated approach towards the Aichi targets and the related targets of the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy. Several local and regional authorities are actively involved in the programmes for capacity building and sharing good practice supported by the LIFE and cohesion policy, in particular INTERREG programmes. Their involvement is also reflected in the latest opportunities, such as the new ‘Biogeographical process’ and its Natura 2000 communication platform, and the new Natura 2000 Award scheme."
CBD COP 12 Decision "Engagement with Subnational and Local Governments"
The rapporteur succeeded, via the EU delegation, to have a reference to land-use planning included in this decision adopted by CBD COP 12. Echoing the CoRs' opinion, the decision calls on all governments to integrate biodiversity into land-use and infrastructure and encourages local and sub-national governments to undertake sustainable urbanisation and land-use planning.
Gangwon/Pyeongchang Resolution for Cities and Subnational Governments of 14 November 2014
This resolution was adopted by the "Biodiversity Summit for Cities and Subnational Governments" held in parallel to COP 12, which the CoR rapporteur attended. The resolution was later shared by the Governor of the Province with the parties to the CBD COP12.
The CoR successfully contributed to the resolution text, adding several text elements, including that the CBD Decision X/22 "Plan of Action on Subnational Governments, Cities and other Local Authorities for Biodiversity (2011-2020)" should inform a similar process to be set up under the UNFCCC.
CBD COP 12 "Gangwon Declaration"
Following pre-discussions with the European Commission and Italian Presidency in Brussels, the rapporteur also informed Environment Commissioner Potočnik and agreed with the head of the EU Presidency delegation to CBD COP 12 about the need to include a concrete text reference to LRA and multi-level governance in this declaration. However, the state of negotiations did not allow for the EU to re-open the text as this could have opened a Pandora's box. The Commissioner and the Italian Presidency yet mentioned the important role of local and regional authorities in their meeting with the Korean COP 12 hosts, including the Korean Environment Minister.
THE COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- stresses the importance of applying the principles of multilevel governance and welcomes the reference made by the Council in its conclusions on COP 12 of the CBD to the role LRA play in advancing implementation of the CBD Strategic Plan to 2020 and in achieving the Aichi Biodiversity Targets;
- calls on the Member States to implement the commitments they made in Decision X/22 of the Convention on Biological Diversity and to improve their governance mechanisms, legal and voluntary instruments in order to engage with and support local and regional authorities (LRA); whilst taking into account the specific recommendations of this Opinion and the good initiatives that some Member States and regions are already undertaking to support their LRAs and that several LRAs have undertaken;
- calls on the European Commission in its review of the EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020 to recommend further actions to enhance the effectiveness of the strategy's implementation, including incorporating into EU legislation the objective of no net loss of biodiversity and ecosystem services, and a proposal for EU legislation on Trans-European Green Infrastructure;
- invites the European Commission to set up an EU commitment/award scheme for biodiversity achievements by cities and regions and a platform for exchange to give European local and regional authorities credit for their successful and significant contribution to the achievement of the EU Biodiversity Strategy;
- encourages the European Commission to explore - in cooperation with the CoR - additional ways to support decentralised cooperation between European LRAs and LRAs in developing and EU neighbourhood countries on the sustainable management of biodiversity and ecosystems, also in relation with the EU Biodiversity for Life (B4Life) facility.