Cities and Biodiversity Outlook
Cities have a large potential to generate innovations and governance tools and therefore can--and must--take the lead in sustainable development

Fostering creativity, innovation, and learning is essential if the global challenge of preserving biodiversity in the face of unprecedented urbanization is to be met

There are potential barriers to cities assuming a stronger and more direct leadership role in promoting sustainable development. Working at the city scale involves coordinating many different voices; national political, administrative, and fiscal systems are not always designed to support innovations in cities; and corporate interests are generally not interested in the well-being and biodiversity of a city per se.

Conserving biodiversity, using it sustainably, and sharing its benefits equitably is the threefold challenge of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Human society everywhere must take a more active role in promoting solutions that take into account our profound connections with and impacts on the rest of the planet. Nowhere is this more critical than in cities. As centers of human innovation, and perhaps the most active frontier of our impact on the planet, cities offer enormous opportunities to reimagine and invent a different kind of future with room for humans and other species to thrive. Cities may well be the ground where we secure a globally sustainable future—one that establishes responsible environmental stewardship at the heart of human well-being.

AICHI TARGET 20: By 2020, at the latest, the mobilization of financial resources for effectively implementing the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 from all sources, and in accordance with the consolidated and agreed process in the Strategy for Resource Mobilization, should increase substantially from the current levels. This target will be subject to changes contingent to resource needs assessments to be developed and reported by Parties. Innovative financing is one of the solutions that will be found at provincial and municipal levels. Most Payment for Ecosystem Services mechanisms (for watersheds or temperature regulation, for example) and examples of tourism revenues accruing to park systems through concessions, for instance, come from sub-national or local governments.

The Way of the Future: Urban Eco-Areas
Some cities are starting to change their ways. They are taxing wastes, encouraging renewable energies, promoting car sharing, and optimising natural sources of light. The best examples are in urban eco-areas such as Copenhagen's Vesterbro (Denmark), London's Beddington Zero Energy Development (UK), Vauban in Freiburg im Breisgau (Germany), and the Eva Lanxmeer quarter in the City of Culemborg (The Netherlands). These areas are designed to be carbon neutral and to promote concepts of eco-citizenship, encouraging people to improve their own well-being by preserving the environment. "Cities of tomorrow" are also beginning to emerge—cities that are ecological and technological at the same time. For example, the energy-independent city of Gwanggyo in South Korea will be a verdant acropolis of organic "hill" structures, with eight buildings that mix housing, offices, entertainment areas, and other facilities, thereby reducing transportation needs while also building a strong sense of community. In the United Arab Emirates, the planned city of Masdar will rely entirely on solar energy and other renewable energy sources, with a zero-carbon, zero-waste ecology. Located just south of Abu Dhabi, this eco-city will eventually comprise 6.5 square kilometers and by 2020 be home to 90,000 inhabitants. Transport will be based only on citizen's feet, bikes, and for further distances, a rapid electric tramway.

Montreal's Urban Ecoterritories
In 2004, to halt the annual loss of 75 hectares of woodlands, the Canadian city of Montreal identified 10 areas larger than 15 hectares in which to prioritize the protection and enhancement of natural spaces. These "ecoterritories" comprise core zones (pockets of biodiversity), protective buffers, and ecological corridors (see map) and include a mix of existing protected areas and other natural spaces, in private as well as public hands. With public consultation and the cooperation of landowners, the city has engaged in several conservation initiatives in the ecoterritories. For example, in exchange for tax benefits, landowners can donate their land to the city, exchange it for publicly owned brownfields, or confer protected status on it for a period of 30 years. The ecoterritories concept has been seen as a win-win for everyone involved and is now recognized in several borough chapters of the Montreal Master Plan.

Green Urban Policies in Montpellier
Montpellier, France, provides an outstanding example of how green urban policies can attract investments in sustainable development and technologies. Montpellier has an extensive "green network" of protected areas that link the city's ecosystems. Investing in biodiversity has paid off for the city: in 2011, Montpellier was named the European and French Capital for Biodiversity. This image, in turn, has attracted green businesses and even international scientific organizations. Several research institutions, including Bioversity International, CIRAD-Agriculture for Development, the National Institute for Health and Medical Research, and the Institute for Research and Development, work in Montpellier through Agropolis International, a network of researchers in 13 institutions. The city also reaches out for scientific and technical cooperation. Cooperating with cities in the USA, Germany, Spain, China, Israel, Morocco, and Algeria, Montpellier took the lead in establishing MEDIVERCITIES, a network of cities focused on biodiversity around the Mediterranean Basin.

Image source: Trey Ratcliff

Montreal

Figure 1: Montreal
In 2004, to halt the annual loss of 75 hectares of woodlands, the Canadian city of Montreal identified 10 areas larger than 15 hectares in which to prioritize the protection and enhancement of natural spaces. These "ecoterritories" comprise core zones (pockets of biodiversity), protective buffers, and ecological corridors and include a mix of existing protected areas and other natural spaces, in private as well as public hands. With public consultation and the cooperation of landowners, the city has engaged in several conservation initiatives in the ecoterritories.
Source: Policy on the protection and enhancement of natural habitats

Masdar

Figure 2: Masdar
Photo of the master plan of the city of Masdar, United Arab Emirates. Some cities are starting to change their ways. They are taxing wastes, encouraging renewable energies, promoting car sharing, and optimising natural sources of light. The best examples are in urban eco-areas such as Copenhagen's Vesterbro (Denmark), London's Beddington Zero Energy Development (UK), Vauban in Freiburg im Breisgau (Germany), and the Eva Lanxmeer quarter in the City of Culemborg (The Netherlands). These areas are designed to be carbon neutral and to promote concepts of eco-citizenship, encouraging people to improve their own well-being by preserving the environment. "Cities of tomorrow" are also beginning to emerge—cities that are ecological and technological at the same time.
Source: Masdar Initiative