By 2050, an additional three billion people will inhabit cities and urban land expansion will cover an area the size of Mongolia. The question is: how will the most rapid period of urbanisation in all of human history affect biodiversity and the ecosystem services upon which the world's people depend?
A new assessment presented by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and Stockholm Resilience Centre analyses both the impacts of urbanisation on biodiversity and ecosystems as well as the many benefits that come from including these aspects in urban planning.
The assessment, entitled Cities and Biodiversity Outlook (CBO), is the first comprehensive global analysis of how urbanisation and urban growth impact biodiversity and ecosystem dynamics in terrestrial, freshwater and marine systems.
The Outlook provides policy makers and city planners with specific guidelines on the conservation and the sustainable use of natural resources in an urban context.
Demonstrating the enormous potential that cities have in contributing to sustainable development, the Outlook includes a variety of case studies from cities, local authorities and sub-national governments on how to incorporate biodiversity and ecosystem services in urban development.
Extensive scientific work
The assessment is underpinned by an extensive body of scientific work that documents conditions and trends, scenarios and opportunities, as well as policy options and responses. By its completion, several hundred scientists and experts worldwide will have contributed to the Outlook.
"The Outlook provides an overview and response to knowledge gaps in how we understand processes behind urban social-ecological systems and how urbanization is shaping land use," Stockholm Resilience Centre researcher and CBO editor Thomas Elmqvist says.
Time and place for pre-launch
The complete version of the Outlook will be released at CBD COP 11 in Hyderabad, India, in October 2012 but an advance preview of key messages will be presented at the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development. The event will be held 14:30-15:30 on Monday, 18 June, 2012 at the Rio+20 Global Town Hall. The comprehensive scientific work that underpins the CBO will be published separately in 2013.
The session will provide an opportunity to meet key people involved in the production of the CBO, including the CBD Executive Secretary, the CBO editor Thomas Elmqvist, and authors of the assessment. Executive Director of ICLEI South Asia, regional and city government representatives will also speak about the applications of the CBO in local governments. A panel discussion and questions from the audience will follow the presentation.
See video with Thomas Elmqvist explaining the many links between urbanization, biodiversity and ecosystem services: