Cities seeking green investment at a time of increased economic pressure

This year draws to a close with the largest biodiversity conference in a decade which kicked-off in Montreal.

The 15th meeting of the United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15) was designed to create a global plan to protect the world’s biodiversity and with it enhance the ability of the world to limit global warming and the impact of climate change.

Two weeks of talking achieved very little earlier this year in Egypt at COP27, and this month’s meeting has seen mayors from 15 cities around the world call for increased direct financing to allow cities to implement ambitious greening and ecosystem restoration projects.

The mayors called on the finance community and national governments for reform of financial infrastructure and greater direct collaboration with the private sector. This would equip cities to fund nature-based solutions, such as forests, green belts, water streams, and parks in and around urban areas.

Up until now, funding for nature infrastructure solutions has gone to national governments, which then distributes it to cities and regions.

With the planet experiencing a decline in nature at rates unprecedented in human history, and the largest loss of animal and plant species since the dinosaurs, cities can play an important role to address biodiversity loss. However they are also facing a huge threat as ever larger parts of the population head for urban areas as the global economic downturn continues.

“Cities must be part of the solution to the biodiversity crisis,” said Sheila Aggarwal-Khan, director of UNEP’s Economy Division. “We hope mayors’ call for increased, direct investment will not fall on deaf ears so that they can unleash the power of nature in cities.”

Cities are on the front line of the socio-economic impacts of climate change and ecosystem loss, and already taking ambitious action to protect and restore nature.

Jaime Pumarejo Heins, mayor of Barranquilla, Colombia explained: “This week, we make a call for increased financing for cities to act on nature. Let’s work together, international community and local authorities, hand-in-hand, to take this message forward to Davos next month and unleash the power of nature in cities and meet global biodiversity and sustainability goals.”

According to UNEP’s 2022 State of Finance for Nature, current finance flows to nature-based solutions must double by 2025 and triple by 2030 to halt biodiversity loss, limit climate change to below 1.5 ˚C and achieve land degradation neutrality, and resilience to climate impacts such as heatwaves and flooding. These investments should support restoration efforts by sub-national governments.

It puts an added item, on the agenda at Davos in January when the world’s financial and governmental leaders will meet to plot a way out of the economic hole, we currently find ourselves in. This will be against the backdrop of the ongoing war in Ukraine and the supply chain and economic instability that continues.

The World Economic Forum will issue its global risks report in the run up to Davos and it will make interesting reading given that in January last year the world’s first major European land war since 1945 was barely in the horizon.

The issue will be with economic woes continuing how will business and government approach green finance and climate change when there are ore immediate threats to hand.

Jon Guy, Editor,

Emerging Risks