Quezon City, 14 other cities seek to reverse nature loss

Pia Lee Brago - The Philippine Star
Quezon City, 14 other cities seek to reverse nature loss
Undated photo release shows the exterior of the Quezon City Hall.
QC Government / Released

MANILA, Philippines — Quezon City and 14 other cities around the world called for increased investment to halt and reverse nature loss.

At the largest biodiversity conference in a decade that kicked off in Montreal, Canada on Dec. 10, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) said 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, UNEP said 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 frontline of the socio-economic impacts of climate change and ecosystem loss, and already taking ambitious action to protect and restore nature.

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 and achieve land degradation neutrality, and resilience to climate impacts such as heatwaves and flooding. These investments should support restoration efforts by sub-national governments.

The call at the 15th meeting of the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15) came from Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte and the mayors of Athens, Austin, Barranquilla, Dhaka-South, Freetown, Kampala, Kigali, Melbourne, Miami-Dade, Monterrey, Montreal, Paris, São Paulo and the environment secretary of the Mexico City government.

It was backed by the UNEP, 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.

UNEP said “Up until now, funding for nature infrastructure solutions has gone to national governments, which then distributes 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.

The project, funded by the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, will run for three years (2023 to 2025) to inform, inspire and enable policymakers, practitioners, businesses and finance institutions to promote ecosystem restoration in cities.

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