Nature matters in the climate emergency, says Kobie Brand

Today marks the halfway point of COP26, and conversations on the ground and online are already referring to this year’s UN Climate Summit as a ‘Finance COP’. Today is also Nature Day at the summit and I would like to remind us of nature’s central role in the global climate response.

This week, figures reaching well into the billions have been quoted as the gaps between the climate finance currently available and what is needed to create a climate-positive world at peace with nature. 

Very few of these are aggregated to the city, town or regional level – the places where the agreements made both at this Climate COP and the Biodiversity COP (CBD COP15) in Kunming in 2022 are ultimately implemented, through projects championed by local and regional government leaders and officials. 

How accessible are all the funds really for scaled local action during this decade, which many hail as our last opportunity to achieve real transformation and avoid permanent damage to our planet? 

This is especially critical for our cities in the Global South, cities that are not adequately represented at COP26 due to travel and connectivity limitations. 

We are proud to be part of the LGMA Constituency, which represents reputable organisations and networks of local and regional governments, and we see great opportunity in working together to find these answers.

Today the Multilevel Action Pavilion will shine light on how nature could – and should – be used to not only address the climate emergency, but also to create urban spaces and communities that are inclusive, equitable, safe and healthy; to create CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature where our communities can live and thrive sustainably, in harmony with nature.

But this work goes beyond annual international summits. The challenge of addressing both the climate emergency and the biodiversity crisis at the same time calls us to reinforce our commitments to work together and strengthen our partnerships. We’ve been advocating for cities for more than 30 years and we represent thousands of cities, towns and regions across the globe. Let’s continue to put our local and regional governments at the centre of a new global framework for nature and climate. 

Kobie Brand
Deputy Secretary General: ICLEI
Director: ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Centre