Hyderabad, 15 October 2012 Cities hold key solutions for protecting biodiversity and ecosystems through improving its eco-efficiency and shifting towards more sustainable consumption and production patterns. This was the key message of the Urban Eco-Efficiency Lab, which concluded today. The workshop was organised by the WRF Secretatiat and the Secretariat of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, at the occasion of the eleventh meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 11).
The WRF background paper was presented by Rui Zhang, who showed how cities can contribute to preserving biodiversity, and protecting ecosystems, for instance by purifying freshwater, cleaning up pollution, reducing energy needs, and maintaining its citizen’s health.
The chair of the event was Dr Xaver Edelmann, President of World Resources Forum. He introduced the five speakers of the workshop:
- Rui Zhang, Program Associate of WRF
- Oliver Hillel, Programme Officer from SCBD
- Sophia Picarelli, Project Coordinator – ICLEI
- Sibylle Rock, WW Stakeholder Engagement Manager – HP
- Dr José Bernal, General Director of Zoos and Wildlife – Mexico City
Mr. Hillel invited the audience to be on the active side, to support sustainability with concrete steps. The first key message of the Cities and Biodiversity Outlook says: “Urbanization is challenge and opportunity to manage biodiversity”, this means we need city governments who accept this challenge and use the opportunity to bring back nature into cities, reduce our footprint and create food safety.
But what are the conditions for eco-efficiency to happen? Sophia Picarelli claimed that probably the most important is political commitment. The decision is in the hands of the policy makers, they are in the position to achieve concrete results. What about the barriers to resource efficiency? Ms. Picarelli mentioned short term policies, lack of recognition of ecosystem service values into decision-making, unstable regulatory frameworks, financial support, and streamlining local governments access to funds.
Ms. Rock introduced the Energy Sustainability Systems (ESM) software, which analyses, monitors and optimises energy consumption and carbon emissions. It provides solutions on integrated management and reporting of financial and sustainability key performance indicators. Using this software we could save up to 10% of the city’s costs. Explaining that energy is everywhere, even if it is not always visible, she asked whether we “understand and are able to control the energy impact of travel, commuting, and communication?”
Dr. José Bernal brought fauna and flora into the conversation. Mexico City hosts a wide range of animals: 83 species of mammals, 350 species of birds, 12 species of endemic amphibians and 31 reptiles. In order to conserve this wide diversity, Mexico City signed in October 2010 the Durban Agreement in Ischeon, Korea, formalising the collaboration and formal beginning of the Program of Local Action for Biodiversity for Mexico City. The first outcomes of this collaboration are the Mexico City Biodiversity Report and the Mexico City: Local Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, including a 10 years plan.
During the workshop many ideas for follow-up events emerged. The WRF/CBD/ICLEI Eco-Efficiency Lab should be used to promote innovative solutions and green urban technologies, and to identify, consolidate and disseminate best practices in sustainable consumption and production, focusing on preserving biodiversity and ecosystem services through mobilizing support from local and sub-national authorities and initiating local actions.
Xaver Edelmann reported the outcomes of the workshop to the plenary and announced that sustainable cities will be one of the focal areas at WRF 2013, to be held in Davos, October 6-9 October 2013.
As workshop coordinator Veronika Rekasi commented after the event: “For me COP 11 sounded to be a serious and tense event, which it was of course. I was really impressed by this very professional and important conference. But at the same time I also enjoyed the very pleasant atmosphere in a wonderful conference venue, with people with a smile on their face everywhere.”