Urbis Designation Process

The international partners of URBIS formally recognised and promoted the achievements of local and sub-national governments that followed a stepwise procedure entailing participatory, inclusive and comprehensive approaches to planning for urban sustainability.

The designation process was designed to: consolidate political commitment to sustainable development and in particular, the ecosystem approach to planning; improve understanding of local ecosystems through assessment and ongoing monitoring and evaluation; and enhance the governance and management of cities as urban biospheres.

Through this process, good practices were developed and catalogued for sharing amongst the learning community. The process also supported the establishment and maintenance of Biosphere Reserves under the auspices of the UCESCO Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme.

Currently this process is undergoing review and development.

The Designation Process

In order to make this designation process as effective, as valuable, and as relevant as possible, ICLEI hosted an interactive webinar with over 50 stakeholders, including cities and local governments, to gain their input on the proposed designation criteria.



Urbis Designation Criteria

Evidence: This may take the form of a Local Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan (LBSAP) or indeed any other sustainable development strategy that duly considers biodiversity. It should:

  • Comprise a vision, principles, strategic goals and achievable actions;
  • Be approved by the City Council (or equivalent competent authority);
  • Be periodically updated in light of monitoring results and new knowledge;
  • Align with National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs – Principle instruments for implementing the CBD);
  • Engage all relevant local government line functions (i.e. departments other than environment department);
  • Be publicly accessible.

e.g. City Biodiversity Index – how many and what type indicators has the city implemented?

  • The City Biodiversity Index (CBI) has, on the initiative of the Gov. of
    Singapore, been developed by an international technical task force. The CBD comprises 23 biodiversity indicators tailored specifically
    towards the urban context. The Index is not intended to be used as a gauge for comparing the performance of cities, but rather constitutes a tool for self-assessment. Hence local
    governments are encouraged to modify the indicators to suit their specific contexts.
  • Other indicators may also be used, but the CBI is commonly regarded as international best practice

Engaging citizens in such processes (e.g. environmental decision making, citizen science initiatives, etc.) can help to:

  • foster public acceptance and support for environmental decisions made by local governments;
  • better inform such decisions;
  • heighten public environmental awareness;
  • inspire and augment environmental activities.
  • Integrating biodiversity across municipal sectors is critical for the success of nature conservation.
    Departments dealing with finance, economic development, spatial planning, housing, infrastructure and health are all stakeholders in biodiversity management and should be engaged accordingly.

This indicator is important because ecosystems and the flows of services they generate, do not recognize political boundaries. For example, cities may:

  • draw their water from surrounding watersheds managed by other
  • incur heightened flood risk when catchments are improperly
  • rely on adjacent wetlands for filtration of organic effluent;
  • contain fragments of important
    natural habitat containing species whose survival depends on the
    quality and accessibility of habitat in neighbouring municipal jurisdictions
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