Montreal, 10 December 2022 - As the largest biodiversity conference in a decade kicked off in Montreal, mayors from 15 cities around the world called for increased direct financing to allow cities to implement ambitious greening and ecosystem restoration projects.
With the planet experiencing a decline in nature at rates unprecedented in human history – and the largest loss of animal and plant species since the dinosaurs – cities can play an important role to address biodiversity loss.
“Cities must be part of the solution to the biodiversity crisis,” said Sheila Aggarwal-Khan, Director of UNEP’s Economy Division. “We hope mayors’ call for increased, direct investment will not fall on deaf ears so that they can unleash the power of nature in cities.”
Cities are on the front line of the socio-economic impacts of climate change and ecosystem loss, and already taking ambitious action to protect and restore nature.
“Cities around the world, like Barranquilla, are acting decidedly to protect their ecosystems, address the impacts of climate change, and improve the well-being of their citizens; however, more partners and resources will be needed to successfully scale financing nature in cities,” said Jaime Pumarejo Heins, Mayor of Barranquilla, Colombia. “Today, we make a call for increased financing for cities to take action on nature. Let’s work together, international community and local authorities, hand-in-hand, to take this message forward to Davos next month and unleash the power of nature in cities and meet global biodiversity and sustainability goals.”
According to UNEP’s 2022 State of Finance for Nature, current finance flows to nature-based solutions must double by 2025 and triple by 2030 to halt biodiversity loss, limit climate change to below 1.5˚C, achieve land degradation neutrality and resilience to climate impacts, such as heatwaves and flooding. These investments should support restoration efforts by sub-national governments.
“Investment in Nature is the only way forward for building climate-resilient, sustainable cities,” commented Barrister Sheikh Fazle Noor Taposh, Mayor, Dhaka South City Corporation in Bangladesh.
The call at the 15th meeting of the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15) came from the Mayors of Athens, Austin, Barranquilla, Dhaka-South, Freetown, Kampala, Kigali, Quezon City, Melbourne, Miami-Dade, Monterrey, Montreal, Paris, São Paulo and the Secretary of the Environment of the Government of Mexico City.
It was backed by the UN Environment Programme, ICLEI, C40, World Economic Forum, Global Environment Facility, Climate Policy Initiative’s CCFLA, the University of Pennsylvania, Cities4Forests and UrbanShift.
The mayors called on the finance community and national governments for reform of financial infrastructure and greater direct collaboration with the private sector. This would equip cities to fund nature-based solutions, such as forests, green belts, water streams, and parks in and around urban areas.
Up until now, funding for nature infrastructure solutions has gone to national governments, which then distribute it to cities and regions.
Responding to the call from mayors, UNEP and partners launched a new project to support cities in taking action for nature and contribute to the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration. This project, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, will run for three years (2023-2025) to inform, inspire, and enable policymakers, practitioners, businesses, and finance institutions to promote ecosystem restoration in cities.
“Ecosystem restoration and nature-based solutions are fundamental for cities to address challenges related to climate change, biodiversity loss and human health," said Aloke Barnwal, coordinator for the Global Environment Facility's Sustainable Cities program. "The Mayors’ Call is a testimony of political commitment by cities to act and become hubs for innovative, transformative solutions. The Global Environment Facility is pleased to collaborate with cities globally to advance integrated approaches that put nature at the core of sustainable urban growth.”
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