Lecture 16: Cities and Biodiversity

by Amornchai Challcharoenwattana, Chulalongkorn University

Dr. Christopher Doll started his lecture by noting the impact of cities, which occupies 2% of the world’s land area, on biodiversity. The 10th Conference of the Parties on the Convention of Biological Diversity or COP 10 Decision X/22 referring to “Plan of Action on Subnational Governments, Cities and Other Local Authorities for Biodiversity” was created to abate the loss of biodiversity arisen from urban settlements. Nevertheless, those principles are still lacking of actual indexing and guideline. Hence, Local Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (LBSAP) were created as a tool to measure and benchmark the biodiversity situation in each city. It comprises 23 indicators for biodiversity, available resources and governance. The system requires data in terms of geographical information, economic activities, data of native biodiversity as well as in-city ecosystem.

LBSAP is used and tested, especially to index biodiversity situation in various cities around the world. Cities use this index as diagnostic tools to improve biodiversity situation in the town. It can also be used as a communication tool to advocate for local citizen support.

City and economic activities were also additional points raised in the lecture. As cities increase their environmental efficiency, there is a tendency of polluting more the environment, what is known as Jevon’s paradox. This problem is now realized and discussed in various city policies. For example, Kanazawa City has integrated incentives into policy planning, i.e. in-city farming or multi stakeholder partnership. Private sector is also participating in greening the city as well. Kyocera Co., Ltd. set up a “Green Curtain” by planting tree at the outer wall and rooftop of its facilities.

Overall, this lecture explained the way to systematically classify biodiversity situation in each city and the way to compare its performance using 23 indicators to identify deficiency and ways for improvement. The interconnectedness of urban structure and economy also prove the coexistence of biodiversity, urban lives, and economic activities.