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Ecological civilization – building a shared future for all life on Earth” is the theme for the UN Biodiversity Conference – COP15 being held in two parts between 2021 and 2022 in Kunming, China. The first part was held in a hybrid event on 11-15 October to set the stage for the adoption of a new effective Global Biodiversity Framework in 2022.

With the aim to advance the preparations for the global roadmap that can bend the curve of biodiversity loss in the next decade, the event gathered over 4,000 participants in plenary sessions and a High-Level Segment. The event concluded with the adoption of the Kunming Declaration where the CBD Parties committed to negotiate a landmark framework next year and recognised the importance of enabling the full and effective participation of local governments and authorities.

During her remarks, Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Executive Secretary of the CBD, focused on three key components of an effective Global Biodiversity Framework: sufficient ambition to meet the 2030 goals and 2050 vision by addressing all drivers of biodiversity loss; commensurate financial commitment; and a mechanism to ensure we are on track to achieve our goals and targets.

The full report on the outcomes of the I part of the conference is available at the official CBD’s website and a full coverage is accessible through the IISD website.

Highlights from the subnational constituency

Regions4 participated at COP15 to continue to build political momentum for subnational governments, while advocating for a framework that is inclusive of all levels of government.

Regions4 and its partners delivered key messages at the High-Level Segment on 12-13 October, calling for greater support for the Edinburgh Declaration and the commitments and demands of over 200 signatories from local and subnational governments:

Ms Natalia Uribe, Secretary General of Regions4, delivered a message on video addressing the Parties of the Convention. During her intervention she highlighted that: “As Coordinator of the CDB’s Advisory Committee on Subnational Governments and Biodiversity, together with the Government of Québec, and in collaboration with the Edinburgh Process partners, Regions4 calls for the adoption of a dedicated decision & plan of action for subnational governments within the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. This is our opportunity to engage all subnational leaders and all levels of government to bring about the transformations required to live in harmony with nature and create solutions to protect the biodiversity gains.”

Mr Benoît Charette, Minister for Environment and Climate Change of Québec, also addressed the Parties on video declaring that: “Protecting biodiversity is the most effective way to combat climate change, that is why Québec has achieved the goals our government had set for our region within our commitment to achieve the Aichi Targets. We strongly believe that subnational governments can mobilise other stakeholders to deliver for nature, and we invite the Parties to adopt a specific decision and a plan of action that will support this ambition. We also invite all subnational governments to sign the Edinburgh Declarationand join our advocacy efforts for multi-level governance for biodiversity.”

Mr Gino Van Begin, Secretary General of ICLEI, intervened during the High-Level Segment on behalf of the local and subnational constituencies and the Edinburgh Process Partners: “In 2020, the Edinburgh Process was launched by the Scottish Government in partnership with ICLEI, Regions4, the Group of Leading Subnational Governments, the European Committee of the Regions, and the Governments of Quebec and Wales, as a commitment to continue fulfilling our responsibilities for biodiversity at subnational levels in this decade. At the 7th Global Biodiversity Summit of Local and Subnational Governments in 2022 we will showcase our ambitious actions and will invite Parties to engage with Mayors and Governors. Today, we call on Parties to adopt a renewed decision and plan of action at COP15, making the CBD, for the second time, the only UN Convention with a comprehensive action plan for engaging all levels of subnational government.”

His intervention can be found here, starting at minute 58:34

Next steps and call to action

As partners of the Edinburgh Process and its resulting Edinburgh Declaration, Regions4 and the AC SNG strongly believe that the contribution of the existing Plan of Action (2011-2020) to global biodiversity must be built upon within the new post-2020 framework so that biodiversity is firmly placed on a path to recovery and resilience with subnational governments’ engagement.

The CBD Secretariat will resume face-to-face sessions of the Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Advice (SBSTTA 24), the Subsidiary Body on Implementation (SBI 13) and the Working Group of the Global Biodiversity Framework (CBD-WG2020-3) in Geneva, Switzerland in January 2022. Regions4 delegation will include AC SNG members and Edinburgh Process partners to further advance the path towards CBD COP-15.

Regions4 together with the partners of the Edinburgh Process continue to call on all regions and local governments worldwide to join the Edinburgh Declaration and our collective efforts for nature.

To that end, the Edinburgh Process partners are organising an event on 6 November within the framework of the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), under the title: “Hearing the voice of subnational governments: rlearning from the Edinburgh Declaration for biodiversity”.

Among Regions4 members who already signed the Edinburgh Declaration we find: Scotland, Wales, Basque Country, Bretagne, Jalisco, CONGOPE, São Paulo, Azuay, Campeche, Catalonia, Québec and Navarre.

Finally, Regions4 invites regions to learn about RegionsWithNature, the initiative recently launched in partnership with ICLEI, IUCN, European Committee of the Regions, GoLS, and other partners to empower regional action for nature.

Further information

To learn more about Regions4’s work on advocacy please visit the webpage Advisory Committee on Subnational Governments and Biodiversity.

For further info on our capacity building opportunities, please visit the webpage Regions4 Biodiversity Learning Platform.

To engage with our activities, please contact Renata Gómez, Regions4 Biodiversity Manager at rgomez@regions4.org