Many of us are aware of the frightening rates of global biodiversity decline, highlighted at the COP15 conference in Montreal last December. There, the parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity, including Canada, negotiated the Global Biodiversity Framework and established 23 targets to halt and reverse nature’s ongoing and accelerating decline by 2030.
You may be wondering how these targets translate locally. One answer is through the Montreal Pledge by which communities across the world, and in Ontario, are committing to be champions for biodiversity.
Temagami © John Hassell
What is the Montreal Pledge?
The Montreal Pledge, inspired by the Global Biodiversity Framework, is an opportunity for communities to declare their intention to contribute to the global initiative. It sets out 15 tangible actions to coordinate biodiversity conservation efforts locally and to inform collaborative and inclusive decision-making processes. These 15 actions are summarized in three broad categories:
Reduce threats to biodiversity;
Share benefits of biodiversity; and
Create solutions through cross-cultural governance, management and education.
Hine’s emerald dragonfly © Chris Evans
Leaders Endorsing the Pledge
So far, 47 cities around the world have endorsed the pledge, including five in Ontario: Mississauga, Toronto, Windsor, Hamilton and Ottawa. These leaders deserve our heartfelt appreciation and congratulations! Let’s hope that more will follow their example.
To endorse the pledge, the first step is to simply submit an official letter of interest on the Montreal Pledge website. Then it is up to each municipality to develop and implement plans, strategies and policies that support and align with actions outlined in the Montreal Pledge.
Endorsement of the pledge is, of course, purely voluntary, but how can cities demonstrate progress on the 15 actions?
Local governments are encouraged to track their biodiversity progress using CitiesWithNature, an international sharing-platform that harmonizes Montreal Pledge targets. Endorsed by ICLEI, the Nature Conservancy and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, it is the go-to place for tracking and celebrating the actions of biodiversity-friendly communities. Users of this platform aren’t required to sign the Montreal Pledge. Nor is it mandatory that those who sign the pledge use this platform. Regardless, over 300 participating cities are now accounting for their biodiversity contributions and “wins” on the site, helping to influence other municipalities to do the same.
With over half of the world’s population now residing in urban spaces, local leadership is more important than ever in the race to protect and restore biodiversity. Ontario Nature will continue to work with municipalities to encourage commitment to the Montreal Pledge and actions that advance the Global Biodiversity Framework targets.
To learn more about municipal achievements and Ontario Nature’s support, visit our blog.
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