1 September 2020

Local governments launch “Edinburgh Declaration” for bold action against biodiversity loss

The “Edinburgh Declaration” is a new statement of intent – which is the result of a comprehensive consultative process supported by ICLEI Europe – that paves the way for strengthened local government representation at the UN Biodiversity Conference (CBD COP15) and in global biodiversity action.

Subnational, regional and local governments across the world have put out a call to Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), asking nations to take strong and bold action in order to bend the curve in biodiversity loss.

This call, known as the Edinburgh Declaration, has been agreed upon by subnational governments and was published this Monday (31 August) by the Scottish Government. It expresses deep concern about the significant and visible impacts from the loss of biodiversity and climate change on our environment, infrastructure, economy, health and well-being, while stressing the need for transformative action at all levels to halt the global loss of species and reduction of natural ecosystems.

The declaration also calls for greater prominence of the role of subnational governments, cities and local authorities in delivering on the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF), a new global framework of biodiversity targets set to be agreed upon at the CBD COP15.

The Edinburgh Declaration is the culmination of a comprehensive participatory process led by the Scottish Government, and supported by ICLEI’s Cities Biodiversity Center (CBC) and the Secretariat of the CBD, along with a number of other partners.

ICLEI Europe worked closely with the European Committee of the Regions to engage European subnational governments in the process, to provide inputs to the declaration from a European perspective, to ensure that needs, views and opportunities that exist within the European context are reflected in the statement, and to showcase the remarkable achievements that European subnational and local governments have already made through their on-the-ground biodiversity action.

According to the IPBES Regional Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, the diversity of species in Europe and Central Asia is in continuous, strong decline. Around 28 percent of species assessed living exclusively in this region are under threat, affected by reductions in the extent of natural ecosystems. Wetland extent, for instance, has declined by 50 percent since 1970.

In this context, ICLEI Europe and the ICLEI CBC consider the role of nature-based solutions (NBS) and green and blue infrastructure of special importance to support the continuity of ecosystem services, and a much-needed contribution to a green recovery from COVID-19, as highlighted in the declaration.

The signatories of the declaration committed to delivering transformative actions to halt biodiversity loss by, for example, integrating nature into subnational, city and local planning, management and governance instruments, and by implementing appropriate actions that deliver on the Post-2020 GBF goals and action targets.

The Edinburgh Declaration will be a key component of the advocacy work to support the adoption of a new, dedicated decision in support of greater inclusion of local governments within the Post-2020 GBF. It also aims to encourage the establishment of a multi-stakeholder platform that ensures representation of local governments to support the implementation of the Post-2020 GBF.

Find out which and how many species in Europe are endangered or extinct, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, by clicking here.

Click here to see how your government can sign the declaration.