Better decisions and actions for biodiversity need to be made at all levels of governments, for the effective and efficient implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and its 2011-2020 Strategic Plan on Biodiversity. The first Aichi target for the new CBD Strategic Plan recognizes that: “by 2020, at the latest, biodiversity values have been integrated into national and local development and poverty reduction strategies”.
As public administration authorities which function between the national and local governments (such as cities, towns and villages), subnational governments (such as States, Regions, Provinces, counties, territories and other intermediate levels of government) have important roles to play in articulating governance in all Parties of the Convention, though their jurisdiction varies from country to country. Through their mandates on environmental protection and sustainable development promotion, land-use planning and landscape management, licensing of large developments, infrastructure investment, research and innovation or financial and fiscal/incentives policy, subnational governments can play a key role in integrating biodiversity, and in developing Subnnational Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (SNBSAPs) in line with their respective National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs), in their turn also supporting the development of the appropriate Local Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (LBSAPs).
Decision X/22 endorsed the “Plan of Action on Subnational Governments, Cities and other Local Authorities for Biodiversity 2011-2020” and provided national governments with a set of guidelines to follow at their discretion in support of local and sub-regional implementation of the Convention. The Plan of Action invites the CBD Parties to involve subnational governments, cities and other local authorities when revising their national biodiversity strategies and action plans. Additionally, this Plan refers to a formation of advisory committees of cities and of subnational governments which will provide input and support to the Plan.
In response to and in parallel to the development of the Plan of Action and of the Global Partnership on Local and Subnational Action on Biodiversity, recognition of the important contribution of subnational governments in the CBD has been increasing. At COP 10, on 22 October, a side-event on the role of subnational governments in the implementation of the Convention attracted 75 participants. The Governor of Uppsala and representatives from Aichi, Ishikawa and Hyogo Prefectures in Japan, the State of Paraná, and the United Nations University (UNU), took the opportunity of exchanging experiences of best practice related to biodiversity management at subnational level and success stories of collaboration between different levels of governments.
Also, international or regional networks of subnational governments are active in promoting sustainable development and environmental conservation and in advocating for increased recognition of subnational governments as a key player. The Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development, (nrg4SD),an international organization representing subnational governments at the global level and focusing in particular in the areas of biodiversity, climate change and water resources & sanitation, has agreed to set up, at its last General Assembly in 2011 in Quebec, Canada, a working group on supporting the CBD.Paragraph 8 of section E on Partnerships and coordination mechanism of decision X/22 specifies nrg4SD as a key partner for the Advisory Committee on Subnational Governments.
Also in June 2010, the Committee of the Regions (CoR), the European Union’s (EU) assembly of subnational and local representatives adopted its opinion on “EU and international biodiversity policy beyond 2010” which emphasizes that efforts at involving local and subnational governments need to be increased to halt biodiversity loss. Associations of subnational governments, such as the “Association of Regions of France” (ARF) are also willing to contribute, as is IUCN’s French Committee (supported by several regions)Considering the success of a similar mechanism set up for cities (the Advisory Committee on Cities and Biodiversity) and subnational governments’ critical, complementary and distinct role in the implementation of the Convention, this paper aims to stipulate the basic terms of reference on an advisory committee of subnational leaders mentioned in the Plan of Action on Subnational Governments, Cities and other Local Authorities for Biodiversity 2011-2020, for discussion at the upcoming meeting of Subnational Governments to be held in Curitiba, Brazil, from 24 to 27 April 2012, at the invitation of Governor Beto Richa of Parana State.
The Advisory Committee has the following objectives:
(a) Take leadership on developing Subnational Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (SNBSAPs) in line with their respective National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs) and Local Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (LBSAPs), in support ofthe implementation of the Strategic Plan by CBD Parties, and encourage other Subregional governments to follow suit
(b) Promote collaboration between different levels of governments and coordinate efforts by subnational governments in support of the CBD Plan of Action on Subnational, Cities and other Local Authorities for Biodiversity 2011-2020 by sharing information on the Global Partnership and its members.
(c) Advise Parties in its implementation through regular statements to the City Biodiversity Summits and the high-level segment of the Conference of the Parties.
The Advisory Committee will conduct the following activities to realize the objectives above:
(a) Support the implementation of the Strategic Plan on Biodiversity 2011-2020 and the CBD’s Aichi targets at subnational level and promote initiatives in order to exchange subnational practices and lessons learnt from action for local diversity, including through the organization of Biodiversity Summits of Subnational and Local Governments parallel to meetings of the Conference of the Parties.;
(b) Collaborate with international networks of subnational governments such as the Network of Regional Governments for Sustainable Development (nrg4SD), the EU Committee of the Regions (CoR) and others, including national associations, to promote the development of SNBSAPs in line with their respective NBSAPs and LBSAPs and the implementation of the Convention by subnational and local governments worldwide;
(c) Participate in relevant CBD meetings such as meetings of the COPs, SBSTTA, WGRI and other working groups, as appropriate, in support of their national delegations and reporting on the status and progress of subnational and regional biodiversity and its management;
(d) Convene a meeting of its members at least once a year, preferably along with the Global Partnership on Local and Subnational Action for Biodiversity, in coordination with the Advisory Committee on Cities and Biodiversity;
(e) Contribute to compilation and dissemination of relevant CBD communication tools such as any future editions of the Cities and Biodiversity Outlook, CBD newsletters and websites, and other materials.
The members of the Advisory Committee are (i) previous and/or current hosts, at the subnational level, of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention and of its Secretariat, (ii) subnational governments whose leadership and significant contribution to the implementation of the CBD has been recognized by the Committees’ previous members, and who have developed and implemented SNBSAPs, (iii) the Executive Secretary of the CBD and (iv) the Secretary General of nrg4SD. Equal geographic distribution will be observed through representatives for UN regions and sub-regions. Founding members will elect the first two co-chairs of the Advisory Committee to lead the Committee in realizing its objectives. The mandate of the chairs will cover a period of four years. The CBD Secretariat provides technical and logistical support to the cochairs and the Committee, as appropriate. ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, aworldwide network of local governments with more than 20 years of experience in this field will be an observer to ensure collaboration with the Advisory Committee of Cities of the Global Partnership.
For the first election of the Advisory Committee, and considering the criteria above, the following candidates are proposed: