Biodiversity and Forests

'Biological diversity' means the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.

UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD), Article 2

What is Biodiversity? - Tackling biodiversity loss: a global challenge - Subnational governments: crucial actors - nrg4SD action on behalf of its members - UN Documents - nrg4SD Technical Papers - Events - What's coming up?

What is Biodiversity?

The natural environment can be seen as a web of life, where a multitude of different organisms (animals, plants and microorganisms) interact. The variability existing in nature among organisms, within and between species as well as ecosystems is synthetized by the expression “biological diversity” (“biodiversity” in short).

About 1.75 million species have been identified so far, but scientists estimate the existence of about 13 million species throughout the world. This variety is essential for life on Earth and for the wellbeing of our societies, which depend on the natural capital of our planet, represented by ecosystem services: these have a key role in delivering important resources for economic and social development as well as in enhancing quality of life and limiting the impact of human activities.

Ecosystems also have an important economic value, since their degradation significantly affects economic growth and development. In this context TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity) is an instrumental discipline to sustainable development.

For example, forests offer a wide range of goods (timber, food, fibre, biomass…) extremely useful for our economies and societies, but at the same time they are “carbon sinks” sequestering human-generated carbon emissions and thus tackling climate change.

Biodiversity loss and ecosystems deterioration jeopardise the provision of ecosystem services, and they therefore represent one of the most serious threats to human wellbeing and economic development.

Tackling biodiversity loss: a global challenge

One of the main agreements adopted at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro was the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). World leaders and governments committed to preserve the ecological diversity of the Earth and established three main goals to achieve in this domain: the conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of its components, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits from the use of genetic resources.

This legally binding Convention, which has been signed by 193 Parties so far, recognises biodiversity as a common concern of humankind and an integral part of the development process, stressing the importance of protecting biodiversity for the environmental, economic and social benefits that it offers.

The tenth Conference of the Parties (COP 10), held in Nagoya in 2010, led to the adoption of the global Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020, the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilisation (ABS Protocol), and a strategy to mobilise resources for global biodiversity.

In addition, the Conference led to the adoption of the Plan of Action on Subnational Governments, Cities and Other Local Authorities on Biodiversity 2011-2020, and launched the process for the establishment of two CBD Advisory Committees of Subnational Governments and Cities and other Local Authorities, respectively "in recognition of the critical complementary and distinct role in the implementation of the Convention." nrg4SD has the honour of being identified in the Plan of Action as a key partner for the establishment of the Advisory Committee of Subnational Governments.

The European Union (EU) has been working on biodiversity matters for many decades: the Birds Directive (1979) was the first piece of legislation adopted by the EU in this field, and it represents the cornerstone of the EU nature conservation policy, together with the Habitats Directive, which aims to protect several sites and species of European importance.

Natura 2000, an EU network of nature protection areas, was established under both Directives and aims to assure the long-term conservation of the European most valuable and threatened species and habitats.

Since 1998, the EU has also adopted Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans in order to reduce the increasing and worrying trends of biodiversity loss.

In 2010 the Environment Council established a biodiversity long-term vision and headline target for the EU. According to the first one, “by 2050, European Union biodiversity and the ecosystem services it provides — its natural capital — are protected, valued and appropriately restored for biodiversity's intrinsic value and for their essential contribution to human wellbeing and economic prosperity, and so that catastrophic changes caused by the loss of biodiversity are avoided. The headline target aims “to halt the loss of biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystem services in the EU by 2020, restore them in so far as feasible, while stepping up the EU contribution to averting global biodiversity loss”.

Following this agreement and the commitments made at UN CBD COP 10 in Nagoya, the European Commission has recently adopted the ‘EU Biodiversity Strategy 2020’, which consists of six targets to meet and twenty actions to implement.

The main goals of the strategy are: full implementation of EU nature legislation to protect biodiversity; better protection for ecosystems, and more use of green infrastructure; more sustainable agriculture and forestry; better management of fish stocks; tighter controls on invasive alien species, a bigger EU contribution to averting global biodiversity loss.

The EU has also launched and sponsored, together with other key players, the major international initiative on TEEB (The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity), highlighting the economic value of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation.

TEEB recommendations on including the economic value of biodiversity and ecosystems in the decision-making process as well as accounting and reporting systems were incorporated in the current international biodiversity strategy adopted in Nagoya.

Subnational governments: crucial actors in biodiversity conservation

At least 50% of the world’s population is living in cities. It is calculated that, by 2030, that number will rise to 60%, with almost 2 billion new city residents.

According to a study by The Nature Conservancy and Harvard University (2008), at the current pace of urbanisation, natural resources and ecosystems might be severely damaged by 2030.

Rapid urban development is likely to affect natural areas rich in biodiversity, the loss of which would make ecosystems less resilient and humans more vulnerable to climate change.

Subnational governments have a crucial role in biodiversity goals by:

  • Translating international and national directives into subnational economic strategies and policies, including public investments and green public procurement programmes;
  • Developing spatial planning and land use strategies;
  • Introducing compensation measures for biodiversity protection, and by
  • Influencing directly citizens and consumers behaviors.

Subnational governments are well placed to reduce pollution, ecosystem services over-exploitation, habitat loss, fragmentation and invasive alien species, as well as to implement wider adaptation, conservation and sustainable use practices, including the strengthening of protected area networks.

With its Decision IX/28 on a Plan on Action on Cities, Local Authorities and Subnational Governments, the UN CBD opens the door for a collaboration between different levels of government in implementing biodiversity policies, encourages Parties to recognise the role of subnational governments in national strategies and plans, and invites them to support and assist subnational governments in the implementation phase.

The CBD Strategic Plan 2011-2020, adopted at UN CBD COP 10 in Nagoya, establishes that by 2020 the values of biodiversity should be integrated by all countries into subnational development and planning strategies. Furthermore, it encourages the participation of subnational governments to the preparation and implementation processes of National Biodiversity Strategic Action Plans (NBSAPs), and it supports the adoption of biodiversity strategies and action plans at subnational level.

nrg4SD is identified in Plan of Action as a key partner for the establishment of the Advisory Committee of Subnational governments for Biodiversity "

nrg4SD action on behalf of its members

Accredited to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (UN CBD) and partner in the Global Partnership for Biodiversity, nrg4SD enjoys close collaboration with the Secretariat of the Convention since coming together for the first time in the run up to the 10th Conference of the Parties (COP) that took place in October 2010 in Nagoya, Japan. During its participation in COP 10 Nagoya, nrg4SD advocated for the the key role of subnational governments in biodiversity conservation and was delighted to see Decision X/22 adopting the Plan of Action on Subnational Governments, Cities and Local Authorities, in which nrg4SD was identified as a key partner for the establishment of an Advisory Committee of Subantional Governments for Biodiversity.

First meeting of the Advisory Committee, 24 - 27 April 2012, Curitiba, Paraná (Brazil)

nrg4SD worked closely with the UN CBD Secretariat and the State of Paraná (nrg4SD member) in the run up to the first meeting of the Advisory Committee from 24 - 27 April 2012 in Curitiba, Paraná (Brazil). The meeting co-organised by the 3 partners with direct sponsorship of the Government of Brazil opened a new chapter in the subnational implementation of the CBD and in the Global Partnership on Local and Subnational Action for Biodiversity, the multi-stakeholder platform created to support the Plan of Action on Subnational Governments, Citites and Other Local Authorities for Biodiversity (2011 - 2020). The objective of the meeting was to identify and disseminate best practices, promote decentralised cooperation on biodiversity, establish an Advisory Committee on Subnational Governments for Biodiversity to advise Parties in implementing the Strategic Plan and the Aichi Targets, and call for cooperation between participating States. A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Government of the State of Paraná and the Subnational Governments and Associations of Subnational Governments of the Advisory Committee of the CBD and UN entities focusing on decentralised cooperation in areas related to biodiversity, climate change and land management, having a reference to the Programme Bioclima Paraná. More information and outcome documents of the first meeting of the Advisory Committee available here>

Working Group on the Plan of Action on Subnational Governments, Cities and other Local Authorities 2011-2020 - Work Programme 2011 - 2012

nrg4SD at UN CBD COP11, October 2012, Hyderabad, India

Last 15-16 October in Hyderabad, on the occasion of the 11th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), nrg4SD in partnership with ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability, the Government of Andhra Pradesh and in collaboration with the Secretariat of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity CBD, co-organised the Cities for Life: City and Subnational Biodiversity Summit. The Summit, which brought together local and subnational representatives, high ranking officials, national governments, international organisations, UN agencies and speciailsts from across the world reviewed the implementation of COP decision X22 and the associated Plan of Actions on Subnational Governments, Cities and other Local Authorities for Biodiversity. This high-level event addressed the coordinated implementation of the Plan of Action facilitating awareness and consensus on political positions. The Summit was also a platform for expertise exchange and for bringing into COP11 the grass-roots initiatives of  the subnational and local levels of government in support of the implementation of the CBD. The main outcomes of the Cities for Life Summit were presented to Heads of State and Government during the High Level Segment of COP11. More information here

On 16 October 2012, nrg4SD and the Government of Andhra Pradesh in collaboration with the CBD Secretariat co-organised the Session of Subnational Governments for Biodiversity. Discussions were rich and focused on the identification of specific proposals for collaboration on biodiversity conservation between subnational governments on the basis of their common experiences and challenges. During the exchanges, subnational governments   reaffirmed the principle of vertical integration of governance between the local, subnational, national and international levels for the sake of complementarity, synergy and ultimately, the achievement of the objectives of the Convention. Participants also stressed the need for furthering work on horizontal integration, in order to bring to the forefront the inextricable link between biodiversity and many other areas of importance for our societies. The session was the occasion to renew the commitment of subnational governments to the Advisory Committee of Subnational Governments of the CBD and to reiterate the importance of further facilitating the daily work of this Committee in close collaboration with the Member States and with the Convention. The outcomes of this session where presented to the Cities for Life Summit on the afternoon of 16 October. Participating regions included Aichi Prefecture, Andhra Pradesh Province, Brussels, Campeche (member of ANNAE), Fatick, Goiás, Gyeongsangnam Province, Hyogo Prefecture, Paraná, Québec, Rabat Salé Zemmour Zaer, La Réunion, Rhone Alpes, Sao Paulo, Sichuan Province, and Tokyo Metropolitan. More information here

nrg4SD Working Groups

nrg4SD has also established two working groups relevant to biodiversity. The first one focuses on the implementation of the UN CBD Plan of Action, while the second one is devoted to Forests Policy.
More information about the Working Group on Biodiversity >
More information about the planned Working Group on Forests >

UN Documents 

nrg4SD Technical Papers

Memorandum of Understanding


8 - 19 October 2012, Hyderabad, India - UN Convention on Biological Diversity 11th Conference of the Parties COP11 - On 16 October, the Summit of Subnational Governments for Biodiveristy co-organised by nrg4SD an the State of Andhra Pradesh, in collaboration with the Secretariat of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity CBD takes place as part of the 'Cities for Life: City and Subnational Biodiversity Summit' on 15 - 16 October

3 October 2012 - World Habitat Day

24 - 26 September 2012, Evian, France - 7th edition of the Planetworkshops' Global Conference - nrg4SD participating

1 - 7 September 2012, Naples, Italy - World Urban Forum organised by UN Habitat - nrg4SD invited

20 - 22 June 2012, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - UN Conference on Sustainable Development Rio +20 - On 17 -18 June nrg4SD held its Statutory meetings - General Assembly and Steering Committee and on 19 June co-organised the World Summit of Federated States and Regions with the State of Rio de Janeiro, The Climate Group and Regions-United/FOGAR

22 May 2012 - International Day for Biological Diversity

9 - 11 May, 2012, Barcelona, Spain - Expert Group Meeting on Landscape Fragmentation and the City-Region approach - co-organised by UN Habitat and nrg4SD

24-27 April 2012, Paraná, Brazil - First meeting of UN CBD Advisory Committee of Subnational Governments - co-organised by nrg4SD, UN CBD Secretariat and the Government of the State of Parana (member of nrg4SD) with the support of the City of Curitiba, and ICLEI. Direct sponsorship from the Government of Brazil

17 – 19 January 2012, Montpellier, France - Mediterranean Regional Workshop for Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans: Coordinating Local and National Action in the Mediterranean Basin

More past events available here >

What’s coming up?

2013 Calendar of events available here >


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