Regions and cities implement two-thirds of the targets of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework. At the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Montreal, state representatives adopted on 19 December the Kunming-Montreal global biodiversity framework, which recognises the importance of subnational, municipal and other local authorities in efforts to enhance its implementation, with the European Committee of the Regions as a key partner. A target for urban and green spaces was also adopted to steer subnational governments’ work in the greening of their territories, enshrining a "whole-of-government approach" in the final text.
Around 25% of species face extinction, many within decades, unless action is taken to reduce biodiversity loss. Biodiversity is fundamental to human well-being and a healthy planet, but also economic prosperity, food, energy, clean air and water, medicines and resilience from natural disasters.
At the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15) of the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, which gathered state representatives in Montreal from 7 December until 19 December, EU cities and regions – together with subnational governments from all over the world – pushed for more ambitious biodiversity targets while calling for a formal recognition of subnational governments in protecting ecosystems and restoring natural habitats in the
post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF).
Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) responded to the call and adopted the
Kunming-Montreal Global biodiversity framework, including a
decision on "Engagement with subnational governments, cities and other local authorities to enhance implementation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework". The decision recognises the important role of subnational governments, cities and other local authorities in the implementation of the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity as well as in monitoring and reporting, resource mobilisation, education and public awareness, social participation and public access to information on biodiversity. The COP15 decision also valued the efforts of subnational governments to achieve these objectives through the
Edinburgh process, a series of consultations in which the European Committee of the Regions played a key role.
The COP15 decision also includes a
Plan of Action on Subnational Governments, Cities and Other Local Authorities for Biodiversity under the Convention on Biological Diversity (2021-2030). The plan acknowledges the European Committee of the Regions as a key partner in ensuring an increased engagement of subnational governments, cities and other local authorities in supporting the successful implementation of national biodiversity strategies within the global biodiversity framework. The plan was one of the main demands of the CoR, as it identifies, enhances and disseminates policy tools, guidelines, financial mechanisms, and programmes that facilitate subnational and local action on biodiversity and build on its capacity to support national governments in delivering the post-2020 global biodiversity framework and the goals of the Convention on Biological Diversity.
Roby Biwer (LU/PES), a member of the CoR delegation to COP15 and member of Bettembourg Municipal Council, said: "
The Edinburgh process is paving the way to a ‘Paris Agreement' for nature, giving to subnational governments an increased recognition within biodiversity governance. We already see progressive regional and local authorities implementing projects for biodiversity, working in synergies to create a biotope. At COP15, we are pushing for this approach to be replicated globally ."
Frida Nilsson (SE/RE), a member of the CoR delegation to COP15 and a member of the Local Assembly of the Lidköping Municipality, underlined: "
Local and regional authorities are key actors to raise awareness on biodiversity and in particular on pollinators. While the role of regional governments should be formally recognised in the global biodiversity framework, more resources still need to be devoted to improving capacity-building, technical assistance delivery and funding to successfully implement nature-positive measures on the ground. "
The Kunming-Montreal Global biodiversity framework also includes four goals and 23 targets, of which the implementation of two is closely related to subnational governments.
Target 12 highlights that the quality and connectivity of green and blue spaces in urban and densely populated areas needs to be significantly increased to ensure that urban planning is biodiversity-inclusive, enhancing native species in order to positively impact ecological connectivity, human health and well-being. Target 14 aims to ensure the full integration of biodiversity and its multiple values into policies, regulations and planning within and across all levels of government. Finally, the text of the Kunming-Montreal global biodiversity framework clearly enshrines the "whole-of-government approach" that the CoR has been advocating for, relying on action and cooperation by all levels of government.
During the United Nations (UN) Convention on Biological Diversity, member of the CoR delegation Roby Biwer took part in the 7th Summit for Subnational Governments in the session on "The importance of mainstreaming and how subnational and local governments can be champions within the Convention", highlighting that effective and far-reaching action to tackle environmental degradation is urgently needed.
He also participated at the pavilion event "RegionsWithNature catalysing biodiversity action and resources for implementation", where he called for greater ambition, for further action for nature, and for efforts to make cities and regions greener. The CoR fully supports the development of the platforms
CitiesWithNature, given their potential to foster replication of best practices to bend the curve of biodiversity loss.
Both members of the CoR delegation – Frida Nilsson and Roby Biwer – met several subnational authorities to share best practices on nature restoration and pollinators. They also met the delegation of Members of the European Parliament and had an exchange with the Executive Secretary-General of the Convention on Biological Diversity, Ms Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, welcoming her support for providing subnational governments with opportunities to engage and participate in the implementation of the global biodiversity framework.