15 December 2022
Events Highlight Role of Nature-positive Infrastructure in Achieving SDGs
Photo Credit: Chris Barbalis on Unsplash
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During an event on nature-positive infrastructure, Kate Newman, WWF-US, called for more attention to infrastructure planning and development, lamenting its removal from the draft post-2020 global biodiversity framework.

The ILO, IUCN, and UNEP launched a report on ‘Decent Work in Nature-based Solutions’.

Infrastructure is the fundamental human enterprise that we must get right or risk undermining biodiversity and the SDGs for decades to come, according to speakers at a side event held during the UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal, Canada. Panelists discussed how to generate a nature-positive transition through practical strategies for mainstreaming biodiversity safeguards in infrastructure development.

Leading off the 8 December event themed, ‘Nature-Positive Infrastructure: Connecting Communities – Safeguarding the Planet,’ Kate Newman, WWF-US, called for more attention to infrastructure planning and development, lamenting its removal from the draft post-2020 global biodiversity framework (GBF).

In a keynote address, Amy Fraenkel, Executive Secretary, Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS), expressed alarm that infrastructure is not addressed in the GBF, noting that developments in road, rail, and energy are set to grow exponentially by 2050. She urged including migratory species experts in infrastructure planning processes.

Han Meng, China Officer, UN Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC), spoke about a new report titled, ‘Mapping Environmental Risks and Socio-economic Benefits of Planned Transport Infrastructure.’ Calling attention to an infrastructure project that is part of the Global Environment Facility (GEF)-UNEP initiative on integrating sustainability into national infrastructure planning, she said it focuses on the ecological and socioeconomic impacts of large-scale infrastructure projects and developments. She also mentioned the Global Infrastructure Impact Viewer, saying it will be used as a scoping tool to inform national planning projects.

Deb Davidson, Center for Large Landscape Conservation, spoke on why connectivity and linear infrastructure must be addressed in tandem, underlining that connectivity is “the safety net of nature.” She highlighted a forthcoming report on ‘Ecological Connectivity in the Development of Roads, Railways, and Canals.’ 

Kamal Gounder, Ministry of Finance and National Planning, Fiji, highlighted the Climate Relocation and Displaced Peoples Trust, Fiji’s sovereign green bond, and a new blue bond for financing nature-based solutions (NbS) to address climate-related challenges. He noted that NbS seawall projects help build resilience to the impacts of storm surges and coastal flooding, mentioning the development of natural seawalls using vetiver grass and mangroves.

Mark Zimsky, GEF, said infrastructure is a cross-cutting integrated programme in the GEF-8 replenishment, and the GEF provides grant funding for infrastructure projects. 

The event was organized by WWF-US.

An 8 December event saw the launch of the first report in a joint global biennial report series that aims to fill knowledge and advocacy gaps on how transitions to a green economy will affect the world of work, and highlighted the role that NbS can and do play in creating employment, especially for the poorest and most vulnerable people.

The report titled, ‘Decent Work in Nature-based Solutions,’ was produced and published by the International Labour Organization (ILO), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and UNEP. It develops a framework for assessing employment in NbS, including the first empirical evaluation of current and potential future global employment in NbS.

Gilbert Houngbo, Director-General, ILO, said we must consider the positive effects on work and income of tripling investments in NbS, which could create an additional 20 million jobs.

Another 8 December event addressed sustainable use and values assessments by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). IPBES officially launched the publications, with the reports’ authors presenting key findings and their implications for the new GBF. 

The Earth Negotiations Bulletin (ENB) is covering selected side events at the UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal, Canada, which runs through 19 December 2022. 

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