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U.S. Representatives Champion Nature-Based Solutions at COP15

United States cities, counties, and states are calling for nature to have its “Paris Agreement moment” this month when they take part in an unprecedented show of leadership by local governments at the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity’s (CBD) 15th Conference of the Parties (COP15). For the first time at the “nature COP”, a dedicated Pavilion will focus on subnational governments and city actions for preserving the planet’s biodiversity. More than 15 U.S. local-leader delegates are registered to take part in COP15 between December 8 – 18, with a key moment occurring during the 7th Summit for Subnational Governments & Cities, an official COP15 side event on December 11 – 12.

As the focal organization to the CBD for cities and regions, ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability (ICLEI) is facilitating participation by U.S. and global mayors, governors, councilors and local leaders at COP15. ICLEI hosts the 7th Summit for Subnational Governments & Cities with the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD) and Regions4, along with the host Government of Québec and the City of Montréal.

COP15 follows on the heels of last month’s United Nations climate conference, COP27, in Egypt, to draw the inextricable links between the biodiversity and climate crisis. From deploying nature-based solutions to ensuring nation’s meet their land and ocean conservation commitments, local governments are key actors for preserving nature’s estimated average of $33 trillion per year value in ecosystem services. Nature is essential to community health, including for ensuring air quality, water security, mental well-being, as well as drawing down planet-heating greenhouse gas emissions.

Although the United States is not a party to the CBD, in 2021, the Biden-Harris Administration released the “America the Beautiful” Initiative with an overarching goal to conserve 30% of US lands and waters by 2030. This year at the COP27, the Biden-Harris Administration released the Nature-Based Solutions Roadmap to support conservation and scale up NbS in the U.S. U.S. states, including California, have issued complementary commitments. U.S. cities and counties are critical to the Biden Administration meeting its America the Beautiful pledges. Over the past several years, these communities have joined international peers in signing the Edinburgh Declaration, calling for a stepped-up global agreement on nature that can halt the loss of nature while directing resources and funding to local governments to meet conservation targets. With facilitation by ICLEI USA, local government delegates at COP15 will urge nations to adopt a high-ambition treaty for nature, known as the Post2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF).

Building on its 30-year history turning global agreements into on-the-ground action in communities, ICLEI USA will support its local government members and the wider network of United States communities to bring the GBF and COP15 outcomes home through its Nature Pathway.  Many U.S. subnational and local governments uphold the CBD through participation in the CitiesWithNature (CWN) and RegionsWithNature (RWN) Platforms. In the CWN & RWN platforms, communities make commitments, take actions and find resources to advance biodiversity, conservation and nature based solutions. Utilizing the CWN & RWN platforms provides U.S. governments with a direct connection to the CBD and biodiversity targets.

“The climate crisis demands immediate action, protecting biodiversity while bringing greater equity to all. Oakland is thrilled to join CitiesWithNature and work with global leaders and local governments to bring nature-based solutions to life,” said Mayor Libby Schaaf, Oakland, CA.

Any U.S. City, County, Region or State can sign on to CWN or RWN to join the movement today.

ICLEI USA’s COP15 Delegation 

ICLEI USA announced today its COP15 delegation of 15 local leaders representing U.S. cities, towns, and counties dedicated to utilizing nature-based solutions and increasing biodiversity.

“Nature heals. Nature protects. We’re excited to introduce our COP15 delegation of state and local leaders who are committed to act to heal and protect nature,” said Angie Fyfe,  ICLEI USA Executive Director.

  • Atha Louise Phillips, Senior Policy Advisor, City of Austin
  • Jennifer Eckerle, Acting Deputy Secretary for Oceans and Coastal Policy, California
  • Jennifer Neale, PhD, Director of Research & Conservation, Denver Botanic Gardens
  • Dr. Jennifer Norris, Deputy Secretary, Biodiversity and Habitat, California
  • Katherine England, Director of Green Infrastructure, City of Boston
  • Kelly King, Councilmember, Maui County, HI
  • Leslie Pool, Councilmember, City of Austin, Texas
  • Louisa Brinsmade, Chief of Staff, City of Austin
  • Michael Esgro, Senior Biodiversity Program Manager & Tribal Liaison, California Natural Resources Agency
  • Michelle Barton, Environmental Supervisor, LA Sanitation and Environment, Los Angeles, CA
  • Peter Brastow, Senior Biodiversity Specialist, San Francisco Environment Department
  • Phillip Douglas, Director of Horticulture and the Center for Global Initiatives, Denver Botanic Gardens
  • Robert Werner, Chair, Concord Energy and Environment Advisory Committee City of Concord, New Hampshire
  • Rella Abernathy, PhD, Senior Ecologist, Ecosystems Management, City of Boulder, CO
  • Wade Crowfoot, Secretary, California’s Natural Resources

ICLEI USA Network’s Accelerating History Taking Action for Nature

  • In 2020 and 2022, ICLEI USA hosted a Forestry Cohort, taking communities through the process of using the LEARN tool and incorporating the results into their Community GHG inventories.
  • In 2022, ICLEI USA conducted its first Biodiversity Bootcamp to introduce nature based solutions, conservation and the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity to US communities. This Bootcamp provided insight into the global goals for biodiversity and showcased some ways US communities are leading the way.
  • To further support local action, ICLEI USA will host a 2023 Biodiversity Cohort. This structured technical assistance program will guide local governments through the steps to develop a Local Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (LBSAP)—or integrate action for nature in a climate, sustainability or other type of plan. If your community is interested in participating in the 2023 Biodiversity Cohort, please submit your interest here.