People in cities are disproportionally responsible for pressure on biodiversity because their lifestyles are so resource-intensive. Although they occupy only 2 percent of the Earth’s land, urbanites account for 75 percent of the resources consumed by mankind.
Nowadays, biodiversity in cities is under threat from a number of factors:
- An increasing demand for space
- Water, soil and air pollution
- The effects of climate change
- The over-exploitation of natural resources
Managing biodiversity locally and improving eco-systems globally
Urban areas have increasing potential for the development and growth of biodiversity. The benefits of protecting biodiversity within the city jurisdiction go far beyond local boundaries. ICLEI supports local governments in their biodiversity management, by:
- Facilitating lesson-sharing among local authorities across the globe
- Producing, disseminating good practice biodiversity case examples
- Getting involved in research
- Advocating for more appropriate framework conditions at global, EU and national level
- Offering process-coaching services
Advocating for change
In its role as advocate for the importance of urban biodiversity worldwide and the crucial role of local governments, ICLEI has been successfully representing local governments at the international level.
At the Conferences of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity, ICLEI played a central role at COP10 in supporting the uptake of the current Plan of Action on Sub-national Governments, Cities and Other Local Authorities for Biodiversity (2011-2020).
ICLEI currently hosts the secretariat of the Global Partnership on Cities and Biodiversity including – amongst others - the Secretariat for the UN Convention on Biodiversity, UNESCO, UNEP, IUCN and the researchers’ network URBIO.
ICLEI has also contributed to the ground-breaking international study, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), co-writing a report aimed at Local and Regional Policy Makers.
European cities lead the way
Many ICLEI Members in Europe are globally recognised as model examples for biodiversity management. The cities of Amsterdam (the Netherlands), Barcelona (Spain), Bonn and Tilburg (Germany), Leicester (the UK), and Zagreb (Croatia) are all pioneers of the Local Action for Biodiversity programme. The latest Member to join LAB is Grande-Synthe (France).
For more information about the LAB Pioneer Project and its participants, click here.
Other ICLEI Members, such as the city of Miskolc (Hungary), Vitoria-Gasteiz (Spain) and recent LAB Member Grande-Synthe (France) have been recognised as biodiversity champions in their country, in the framework of the European Capitals of Biodiversity competition, to which ICLEI contributed with training material and international promotion. In addition, Barcelona (Spain) and Heidelberg (Germany) presented their outstanding experiences at the 2010 City Biodiversity Summit in Nagoya, Japan.