Biodiverse cities understand that a diverse natural world is the foundation of human existence, as it is necessary for both survival and quality of life.

Our Programs

With the support of ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center, our regional secretariats and offices, ICLEI strengthens the role cities and local governments play in the pursuit of greater sustainability through the collaborative design and implementation of integrated urban development and effective biodiversity management through our suite of progressive BiodiverCities programs and related tools.



INTERACT-Bio is a four-year project designed for improving the utilization and management of nature within fast-growing cities and the regions surrounding them. It aims to provide expanding urban communities in the Global South with nature-based solutions and associated long-term benefits.

The project will enable governments at all levels – from local to national – to integrate their efforts for mainstreaming biodiversity and ecosystem services into core subnational government functions such as spatial planning, land-use management, local economic development and infrastructure design.

The project will support city-regions to understand and unlock, within their specific local context, the potential of nature to provide essential services and new or enhanced economic opportunities, while simultaneously protecting and enhancing the biodiversity and ecosystems on which these services and opportunities depend. In doing so, these actions will place the participating city-regions on a more resilient and sustainable development path.

INTERACT-Bio is being implemented in Brazil, India and Tanzania.


BiodiverCity Hotspots Programme

A ten-year global initiative launched in 2012 with our global partners IUCN, UN Habitat, NRG4SD, Conservation International and the CBD, the program seeks to provide a network and global monitoring and reporting mechanism for 250 selected cities with identified biodiversity hotspots to enhance their management of natural resources.


BiodiverCity Special Focus Projects

Covering the areas of climate change, food security, agriculture, CEPA (communication, education and public awareness), coastal zone management and city-region planning, this thematically-focused project series addresses biodiversity and ecosystem management in specific geographical contexts.


Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF)

GBIF is the world's largest multilateral initiative for enabling free and open access to biodiversity data over the Internet. It constitutes a voluntary network of national, regional and thematic Biodiversity Information Facilities (BIFs) in different countries and regions worldwide, providing the means to access credible scientific data about animal, plant and other species. Together with the South African National Biodiversity Institute, ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center works to strengthen collaboration and expedite the expansion of GBIF to local governments.


Local Action for Biodiversity (LAB)

LAB is ICLEI's flagship biodiversity program coordinated in partnership with IUCN. Action-oriented and customized for local and regional authorities and their partners, the program aims to improve biodiversity management at the local level. LAB is a key component of, and contributor to, the CBD's Global Partnership on Local and Subnational Action for Biodiversity. Started in 2006 with a select group of 21 pioneering local and regional authorities worldwide - representing 54 million citizens, the initiative has since expanded to include many more cities and has branched into thematic streams, including LAB Pioneers, Climate Change and Biodiversity and Biodiversity and CEPA.

The program focuses on implementation, and is comprised of a three-year, five-step peer learning process, a local biodiversity and ecosystem services assessment report, workshops, forums, a knowledge bank, networks and various strategic projects that address specific local and national needs.


URBES− Urban Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services

Coordinated by Stockholm Resilience Center and funded by BiodivERsA, URBES is a major European focused project seeking to address scientific knowledge gaps on the contribution of urban biodiversity and ecosystem services to human well-being. It aims to support European cities to adapt to climate change and reduce their ecological footprints. The study entails reviewing and expanding upon research on functional diversity, urban ecosystem services, institutions, economics and resilience science with a view to developing interdisciplinary and holistic principles, policies, tools and designs for application in cities.


URBIS– Urban Biosphere Initiative

Hosted by ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center and coordinated by the Stockholm Resilience Center, URBIS is a global network connecting acclaimed scientific researchers, foresighted policy-makers, visionary planners and environmental practitioners from across the world with local governments to share, develop and implement ideas for creating more resilient and equitable urban regions. Other partners include Cornell University, IUCN, UN University, the New School in New York and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation. Local governments can join the initiative for free by sharing at least good practice case study and signing the Durban Commitment, a political recognition of the value of biodiversity and a pledge to protect it.


Our Tools and Services

Biodiversity is not only about conservation, but also about ensuring that cities are able to provide for more of their resource needs by being able to produce more of what they consume. ICLEI offers locally tried and tested tools and services for improving urban ecosystem services. 



City Biodiversity Index (CBI)
Developed and maintained by the Singapore National Parks Department with support from ICLEI, the CBD and others, CBI is the only biodiversity index designed specifically for monitoring and evaluating biodiversity in cities.

Communication, Education and Public Awareness (CEPA) Evaluation Toolkit
Developed by ICLEI and LAB Pioneer Cities, the tool enables cities to evaluate, track and measure the effectiveness and impact of their communication, education and public awareness campaigns on local natural resource management.

An environmental management system developed by ICLEI Europe based on the logic of municipal budgets to help local governments manage natural resources.

Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) Local Government Manual
Developed by ICLEI and GBIF, the Manual allows local governments to share their local biodiversity data with the global database to improve monitoring and collection process towards improved research, policy and decision-making.

Local Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plan (LBSAP) Guidelines
The LBSAP is the local-level version of National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plans (NBSAPs), the principle instrument used by national governments for implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity. The Local Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (LBSAP) Guidelines is a document that guides local governments in detailing a broad strategy, as well as specific actions to implement in order to protect and enhance local biodiversity. ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center, the United Nations University – Institute for Advance Studies and the CBD Secretariat have co-authored the Guidelines.

Local Government Biodiversity Management Guidebook 
Produced jointly with IUCN and CBD, the book provides practitioners with comprehensive guidelines on various aspects of biodiversity management at the local level.

The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) Manual for Cities
Developed by ICLEI and Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ) with support from UNEP, the Manual provides cities with a practical way to appraise the value of their ecosystems and associated services to local communities.

Urban Protected Areas (UPA) Toolkit
Developed by ICLEI and the City of Cape Town, the toolkit shares the latest innovation and mechanisms to better management and promotion of urban protected areas.


Our Networks

ICLEI helps cities to restructure themselves to become less harmful to local biodiversity and ensure greater effectiveness and efficiency in policy choices by connecting leaders from across the world through our urban biodiversity networks.



Biennial global BiodiverCities technical workshops for LAB Pioneers in partnership with Host Cities.

City Summits
Biennial meetings held in the occasion of CBD COPs organized with partners.

Urban Nature forum
A triennial forum associated with the ICLEI World Congress, this platform brings cities, science, practitioners, experts and other local government stakeholders and leaders together to connect and to share innovation and tools.

Thematic workshops
A number of needs-based thematic workshops and technical events for urban biodiversity and ecosystem management are held at the local, national and international levels.



Our Advocacy

ICLEI advocates for the sustainable management of biodiversity resources at the local level and for increased collaboration between different government levels. Through various and projects and initiatives, the Cities Biodiversity Center provides a platform for local governments to voice their concerns and aspirations to the international community. The Center has partnered with the Secretariat of the CBD and hosts to organize major local government events and smaller side events in parallel to COPs.

Find our more about our Partners.


Our Commitments

Signed by participants of BiodiverCity Network and the LAB Program, the Durban Commitment is a commitment by local government and the communities to protect and enhance biodiversity at the local level.


The Cities Biodiversity Center, located in Cape Town, South Africa

offers tailor-made assistance and customized solutions to cities who prefer to engage in specific national contexts, as opposed to joining a global network.
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