Roadmap to COP 15: Timeline of key milestones

Due to the novel COVID-19 pandemic, many event dates in the lead up to the 15th Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) have changed their dates, their locations, and in some instances, their overall method of delivery. Thus, the “Super Year for Nature” has been extended through to 2021, when COP 15 will take place in Kunming, China. While much uncertainty remains, and more changes are likely, the journey towards COP 15 will continue with the same rigor and momentum as before.  The ongoing mobilisation of the local and subnational government constituency will ensure that actions by cities and regions are consistent, transformational, and sustained to turn every year into a “Super Year for Nature.” An updated timeline, with the most recent event dates and details can be seen below:

Key Updates

Postponement of SBSTTA 24 and SBI 3

Given the continued uncertainties arising from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, including those related to restrictions on travel and the convening of large physical gatherings, the meetings of SBSTTA 24 and SBI 3 will not take place physically in Montreal in August 2020 as previously planned. We will continue to provide updates in this regard. Read the official CBD Notification, which details possible alternatives, here.

EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2030: Bringing nature back into our lives

On 20th May 2020, the European Commission published the European Union biodiversity strategy to 2030 “Bringing nature back into our lives,” a comprehensive, ambitious, long-term plan with the main objective to protect and restore:

  • 30% of lands & seas to become protected areas;
  • 30% of protected habitats to reach improved conservation status;
  • 10% of land to have landscape features of high biodiversity.

It aims to put Europe’s biodiversity on a path to recovery by 2030 with benefits for people, the climate and the planet. It is also the proposal for the EU contribution to the upcoming international negotiations on the global post-2020 biodiversity framework.

In the post-COVID context, the Biodiversity Strategy aims to build our societies’ resilience to future threats such as climate change impacts, forest fires, food insecurity or disease outbreaks, including by protecting wildlife and fighting illegal wildlife trade.

A core part of the European Green Deal, the Biodiversity Strategy will also support a green recovery following the pandemic.

The strategy is a step in the right direction. Cities and regions – local and regional authorities – must play a leading role and their potential to halt biodiversity loss & restore nature should be fully used. We need more ambition while putting Europe on the path to sustainable recovery post-covid19.

European cities and regions will be part of the solution:

  • To bring nature back to cities and reward community action, the Commission calls on European cities of at least 20,000 inhabitants to develop ambitious Urban Greening Plans by the end of 2021. To this end, the Commission will provide technical guidance on urban greening and assistance to mobilise funding and capacity building for EU countries, local and regional authorities, including for the development of Urban Greening Plans
  • The Commission will, in 2021, set up an EU Urban Greening Platform, under a new ‘Green City Accord’ with cities and mayors. ICLEI is project coordinator of this initiative, while the European Committee of the Regions will support the initiative via the Technical Platform for Cooperation on the Environment;
  • The Commission will support EU countries and local and regional authorities through technical guidance and help to mobilise funding and capacity building;
  • Tree planting, especially in cities, as part of the EU Forest Strategy in 2021 that will include a roadmap for planting at least 3 billion additional trees in the EU by 2030, in full respect of ecological principles. This will create substantial job opportunities linked to the collecting and cultivating of seeds, planting seedlings, and ensuring their development. Tree planting is particularly beneficial in cities, while in rural areas it can work well with agroforestry, landscape features and increased carbon sequestration.
  • Particular focus will also be placed on protecting and restoring the tropical and sub-tropical marine and terrestrial ecosystems in the EU’s outermost regions given their exceptionally high biodiversity value.

The European Committee of the Regions, via its Opinion by rapporteur Roby Biwer (LU/PES), will support the Commission towards UN CBC COP15 in Kunming, China (Q2/2021) addressing the proposal of the Commission that the post-2020 global framework includes, at a minimum, a principle of equality. This includes respect for the rights and the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples and local communities. There should be an inclusive approach with participation of all stakeholders, including women, youth, civil society, local and regional authorities.

For more information, click here.


Overview of achievements following the adoption of Decision X/22

ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center (CBC) has recently compiled a document which provides an overview of what has been achieved at the global, national and subnational levels following the adoption of Decision X/22 on the Plan of Action on Subnational Governments, Cities and Other Local Authorities for Biodiversity 2011-2020. The overview captures some of the key initiatives taken by CBD Parties and a range of international organizations over the past decade, in strengthening the role of local and subnational governments in contributing to the objectives of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). It also highlights the rich and varied contributions by the local and subnational levels of governments. The impressive list of achievements and successes makes a strong case for a renewed and significantly stepped-up dedicated Decision on local and subnational action in support of the new Global Biodiversity Framework, and a more ambitious plan of action to institutionalize implementation at the subnational and local levels of government. It will be introduced through a panel discussion in this week’s webinar. The details to register for this webinar are below.


Ramsar Wetland City Accreditation

The Ramsar Convention on Wetlands (adopted in 1971) is an intergovernmental treaty that provides the framework for national action and international cooperation for the conservation and wise use of wetlands and their resources. In 2015, the Convention introduced a Wetland City Accreditation Scheme in recognition of the important role of cities in protecting and enhancing the benefits from urban wetlands. In the second round of Ramsar Wetland City Accreditation, the Ramsar Convention’s Secretariat received applications from 25 cities. These applications are currently under review. Results of the review will be presented to the 58th Meeting of the Standing Committee during October of 2020.

How to get involved?

The Edinburgh Process: Extension to consultation period

As you are aware, the Edinburgh Process for Subnational Governments, Cities and Local Authorities on the development of the Post 2020 global biodiversity framework is currently underway, as arguably one of the most significant opportunities for the voice of the local and subnational government constituency to be heard loudly in the lead up to COP 15. Given the COVID-19 context we find ourselves in, the event was transformed into a dynamic and interactive online consultation process.

The event aims to consult the local and subnational government constituency on the Zero Draft Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), the review of the Plan of Action on Subnational Governments, Cities and Other Local Authorities for Biodiversity, and recommendations for a new dedicated and stepped-up decision that builds on a renewed Plan of Action toward 2030, and the Edinburgh Declaration. All of us are facing unprecedented times and are addressing the current global pandemic.  We recognise this is impacting upon resources, timely action and indeed the COP15 timeline itself.

Therefore the Scottish Government has extended the consultation period until 12 June 2020 to give delegates another two weeks to respond and make inputs through the consultation documents, by means of completing two google forms. The Edinburgh Process partners want to represent all of the subnational constituency and can only do this if you add your views. We encourage you to respond to this consultation, and to be a part of the momentum that is building in the lead up to COP 15.

If you have not done so already, we encourage you to register for the Edinburgh Process and make your voice heard by providing inputs to the consultation documents. This can be done by expressing your interest in participating at:

Successful registration will allow you access to Attendify, the platform where the Edinburgh Process consultation documents, resources, links to webinars, and webinar recordings will all be housed. For more information, click here.

A series of thematic webinar have been held as part of the Edinburgh Process. The last of these webinars, which will focus on Resource Mobilisation, is scheduled to take place this Thursday (4 June 2020) from 1-2:30 pm (BST). Register for the Edinburgh Process today!

All inputs received through the online consultation and outcomes of the process will be taken into account in the drafting of the Edinburgh Process report to the CBD. This output, including key issues arising, will be reported back to participants at Online Information Session 2 (anticipated to be held across the week of 29 June).  A final consultation report will then be submitted to the CBD ahead of the meeting of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation (SBI) -3 meeting. Inputs made on the principles for inclusion in a stepped-up, dedicated decision and renewed Plan of Action, as well as inputs to the table of achievements (2011-2020) will be incorporated in the Plan of Action review document and to the final consultation report. The process aimed to establish an Edinburgh Process community working towards CBD COP 15.


The event is being organised by the Government of Scotland and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), in collaboration with partner organisations such as ICLEI, REGIONS4 Sustainable Development, the European Committee of the Regions (CoR), the Group of Leading Subnational Governments toward Aichi Biodiversity Targets (GoLS), the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Scottish National Heritage, the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre, the Government of Quebec and of Wales. For more information, and to stay up-to-date with the unfolding details, click here.


Save the Date: Register for our next webinar

ICLEI continues to host its monthly Post-2020 webinar series to keep up to date on the unfolding participatory process on the roadmap to COP 15: The Paris Moment for Nature. Visit our website to see more on our local and subnational advocacy for nature and to get involved. In case you have missed the previous webinars in the series, the recordings are available on our YouTube Channel. To read more about our previous webinar in the series on the topic of Biodiversity, Food, and Nutrition for Health, click here.

Join us for the 13th webinar in the series, to be held at both 10am and 3pm SAST (GMT+2) on 4 June 2020. The topic for this webinar will be: Reflecting on the journey since 2010 – overview of achievements linked to the Plan of Action on Subnational Governments, Cities and Other Local Authorities for Biodiversity

The webinar will take the form of an exciting roundtable discussion, as we reflect on the history of local and subnational government advocacy in the CBD. The roundtable will feature the following speakers:

-Ms. Kobie Brand– Global Director, ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center (CBC)
-Mr. Oliver Hillel– Programme Officer, Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD)
-Ms. Susanne Nolden-Department of International Affairs and Global Sustainability, City of Bonn, Germany
-Mr. Grant Pearsell– Director and member of City Planning’s leadership team, City of Edmonton (retired)

Don’t miss out! You can register for the webinar by clicking on your preferred time below:

at 10:00 am SAST (GMT+2)

at 03:00 pm SAST (GMT+2)


We are proud to announce that growth of the CitiesWithNature Partnership Initiative. To date, we have over 150 cities and regions who have registered on the online platform. On the occasion of International Day for Biodiversity, Valérie Plante, Mayor of Montréal and ICLEI Global Ambassador for Local Biodiversity, penned a compelling letter, calling on mayors and leaders of local and subnational governments from around the world to jointly take urgent action to halt and reverse the trends of biodiversity loss. On the same day, the network released the second edition of its exciting CitiesWithNature Buzz.

Visit our Updates page to read more about what cities and regions are doing to enhance the value of nature in and around our urban areas. In the lead up to World Environment Day, aptly themed “time for nature,” on 5th June 2020, CitiesWithNature has partnered with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to encourage cities and regions to join the journey. View the toolkit, which includes a dedicated section for Cities, here.

To join CitiesWithNature, connect with the growing network of cities and regions who are taking action for nature, and experience this innovative platform, click here.

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We continue to stand together, in solidarity, as we are increasingly faced with loss and hardship as a result of the pandemic. Furthermore, we applaud the dedication and hard work of healthcare workers who are on the front lines in treating the sick. We continue to acknowledge the role of local and subnational governments for their rapid response in the face of this crisis.

Nature provides diverse life-supporting and life-enhancing contributions to people. All cities critically depend on healthy interconnected ecosystems within and around them. The COVID-19 pandemic is placing huge strain on our communities, our governments, our healthcare systems and our economies. Our cities still continue to grapple with massive sustainability challenges, and building urban resilience will be even more critical now.


The generous support from the Post-2020 Biodiversity Framework – EU Support project, the INTERACT-Bio project, and CitiesWithNature partners and cities, has contributed to this email update.

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