“Cities and biodiversity” selected as hot article

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  • 2011•09•19     Yokohama

    An article about cutting-edge research on cities, biodiversity and governance, by a team from the UNU Institute of Advanced Studies (UNU-IAS), has received international recognition and a ranking in Biological Conservation’s “Top 25 Hottest Articles” list for April to June 2011.

    The journal article, “Cities and biodiversity: Perspectives and governance challenges for implementing the convention on biological diversity (CBD) at the city level,” is an academic version of a policy report produced by the UNU-IAS Sustainable Urban Futures Programme for the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP-10) held in Nagoya, Japan, in October 2010.

    “We were very pleased [by the Biological Conservation Top 25 listing] because the research was a collective effort, involving seven authors and carried out over many months”, said report and article co-author Jose Antonio Puppim de Oliveira, Assistant Director of UNU-IAS. “We received very good feedback on the policy paper at CBD COP-10, as well as positive feedback from reviewers on our recommendations and policy discussions. But we did not expect such a high level of interest.”

    Puppim de Oliveira co-wrote the report with UNU-IAS colleagues Osman Balaban, Christopher Doll, Raquel Moreno-Penaranda, Alexandros Gasparatos, Deljana Iossifova and Aki Suwa. The research analyses the relationship between cities, local governance and biodiversity by examining the role that cities play in both biodiversity loss and conservation.

    “Our article is a conceptual paper reviewing the main debates on cities and biodiversity,” Puppim de Oliveira explained. “We were able to integrate many issues and ideas that were loose in the existing literature, and put forward a framework to think about the role of cities in implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity. We also pointed out the main under-researched areas and the implications for governance, such as by highlighting the role of cities in biodiversity beyond the city boundary or city footprint.”

    The paper also analyses the main urban processes and governance mechanisms that can be improved to make cities more effective in CBD implementation. The researchers thus hope it can provide a useful tool for city biodiversity planning, policy and management.

    “This paper was the starting point of our research on cities and biodiversity. We are working in the Global Partnership on Cities and Biodiversity, where we have the opportunity to input a lot of our work into global and local processes, as many cities attend participate in these meetings,” Puppim de Oliveira said.

    Looking ahead, “the main challenge is to make cities more ‘biodiversity friendly’, both with and beyond the cities’ boundaries. We need to create governance mechanisms at the city level to help enhance global governance, and vice-versa. We also need to look at what we call ‘biodiversity based urban infrastructure’, which utilizes natural ecosystems instead of ‘concrete’-based structures to build urban infrastructure.”

    Biological Conservation (Elsevier) is one of the most prestigious academic journals in the area of biodiversity. This recent ranking of the “Cities and biodiversity” article indicates increasing interest among researchers and policy makers in the area of urban and city biodiversity, particularly when linked to implementation of the CBD.

    Read more about the role of cities in promoting biodiversity and implementing international environmental agreements in the “Cities, biodiversity and governance” article on this website.