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Celebrating U.S. Cities’ and Regions’ Commitments to Nature

The end of this year marks a tremendous occasion for communities taking action for nature during the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15). To champion nature-based solutions, the 7th Summit for Subnational Governments & Cities, an official COP15 side event from December 11 – 12, celebrated global cities’ and regions’ commitments to nature through CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature.

Several U.S. leaders received recognition for their dedication to restoring and protecting nature within cities and regions. These leading cities and first-joining state bring the total U.S. CitiesWithNature to 29: 

  • State of California
  • Boston, MA
  • Concord, NH
  • Lake County, FL
  • Oakland, CA
  • Santa Monica, CA
  • Carbondale, IL
  • Boulder, CO

“California is the global leader in biodiversity and climate change. As the fourth largest economy in the world, we are demonstrating that we do not need to make a choice between a strong economy and protecting nature. We are proud to join RegionsWithNature today to be part of a subnational collaboration on how we are going to stem the crisis and protect biodiversity across the globe. We have a lot to share about the work we are doing to advance 30×30, to implement and protect our marine protected areas, to address plastic pollution, and to restore habitat both on land and in our coast, but we also have a lot to learn, especially on how we can do better in partnership with Indigenous communities and local communities. We are grateful to be here today and the partnership ahead.”

Jenn Eckerle,  Acting Deputy Secretary for Oceans and Coastal Policy at the California Natural Resources Agency and Acting Executive Director of the Ocean Protection Council 

From left to right: Peter Brastow, Senior Biodiversity Specialist, San Francisco Environment Department; Angie Fyfe, Executive Director, ICLEI USA; and Rella Abernathy, PhD, Senior Ecologist, Ecosystems Management, City of Boulder, CO.

The Summit marked an unprecedented global milestone by celebrating subnational governments and cities’ contributions to the new post-2020 global biodiversity framework. Governors, mayors, and other subnational government leaders from across the world gathered to collaborate with national leaders, key stakeholders, and partners to take action for biodiversity through three elements: Engage, Influence, and Act. 

Over the two days, the Summit had over a thousand registrants, 80+ high-level speakers, and 20+ global subnational and local government leaders involved in:  

  • Sharing biodiversity initiatives and solutions,
  • Celebrating subnational and local actions focused on protecting, restoring, and enhancing biodiversity,
  • Collaborating with national leaders, stakeholders, and partners for multilevel biodiversity action. 

The Summit concluded by celebrating 35 new cities and five new global partners joining CitiesWithNature, a platform where participants can report on their actions and voluntary commitments to the global biodiversity framework. In addition, ICLEI launched RegionsWithNature, a sister platform to CitiesWithNature, to focus on regions biodiversity efforts across urban-rural connections and give an opportunity for the state-level government to engage in this UN-endorsed space for regional collaborations supporting nature.

The session brought CitiesWithNature partners and local governments to share examples of their commitments to nature and showcase how the CitiesWithNature platform provides tools and resources and a collective space to share knowledge and inspire action.