'Cities for Life' puts biodiversity back on urban agenda


Cities for Life pictures: Day 1Day 2
Cities for Life: Presentations

A resounding success, the Cities for Life Summit, held in parallel to the CBD COP 11 on 15 and 16 October in Hyderabad, India, brought together more than 500 participants, including about 150 city representatives from 45 countries, 60 city and sub-national leaders (governors, mayors, deputy mayors, and commissioners), as well as delegates from UN agencies, science, business,  national, and international organizations. 

With an aim to foster and unite local action for biodiversity, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity collaborated with the Government of Andhra Pradesh, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation and the Government of India to organise the summit at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre.

The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, Mr. N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, and the Governor of Andhra Pradesh, Mr. ESL Narasimhan inaugurated day 1 and day 2 of the Summit respectively. The Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Ms. Jayanti Natarajan, in her welcome speech at the opening plenary of the High Level Segment led by the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh, highlighted the crucial role cities play in biodiversity conservation and management, saying:

It is estimated that half of India's population will also be living in cities by 2045 and I am therefore happy that a parallel summit on ‘Cities for Life’ has been held on the margins of COP11 bringing together subnational and local authorities. I am very confident that this will go a long way in bringing biodiversity back on to the urban agenda. 

Ending on a high note, the Cities for Life Summit concluded with the Hyderabad Declaration, a pledge by the mayors and governors of local and sub-national authorities to develop and implement local strategies towards the Plan of Action on Sub national Governments, Cities and Local Authorities for Biodiversity; and to achieve the twenty Aichi Biodiversity Targets. The Declaration was presented during the High Level Segment Closing Plenary by an ICLEI representative on behalf of local governments and subnational authorities.

To cement a long history of working together, ICLEI and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) signed an MoU to compel both organizations to work towards mobilising local governments to take action on biodiversity.

Two landmark initiatives launched at the summit were the Cities and Biodiversity Outlook: the first global assessment of the links between urbanization, biodiversity and ecosystem services; and the Cities in Biodiversity Hotspots programme, a ten-year global initiative seeking to provide over 250 cities located in and around the 35 biodiversity hotspots of the world with a platform to take action on biodiversity.

Ten cities, from India and the region, signed up for the newly inaugurated LAB India programme, which seeks to gear Indian cities towards the better conservation and management of biodiversity. Finally, the Hyderabad City Biodiversity Index, also launched at the summit, makes Hyderabad the first Indian city to have assessed the level of biodiversity in their city on the CBD-endorsed City Biodiversity Index (Singapore Biodiversity Index).

The summit took stock of progress since the City Biodiversity Summit at the CBD COP 10 in Nagoya and outlined the latest, most relevant tools, initiatives and networks available to support local bodies in their efforts to bring nature back into cities. 

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