Protected areas at local government level: Support for cities and local authorities in Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru in conserving biodiversity (BMU)
Title: Protected areas and other site-based conservation mechanisms at local authority level
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (BMU)
Countries: Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru
Lead executing agency: Environment ministries in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru
Overall term: 2016 to 2020
The biological diversity found in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru is of global significance. That there is a clear political will on the part of these four countries to preserve this diversity is evident in their ratification of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and in their designation and management of protected areas, mainly at national level. These countries have placed between 10 and 25 per cent of their respective national territories under protection.
As part of a comprehensive system, protected areas and other site-based conservation mechanisms at local government level help to preserve natural habitats on a sustainable basis.
Local governments in these four countries have already implemented site-based conservation mechanisms. However, the legal status of local protected areas varies from country to country. In Brazil and Ecuador, protected areas that are designated and managed by the local governments are generally recognised as part of the national protected area system. In Peru and Colombia, this is not yet the case.
The contribution made by cities and local authorities to biodiversity conservation is often not readily apparent. Financial resources for the conservation of biodiversity are limited. The initiatives are rarely integrated into planning processes or regional development strategies. There is also a lack of knowledge and awareness of the importance of protected areas and conservation mechanisms for local sustainable development. This is particularly true of the provision of key ecosystem services such as drinking water, recreation and protection against catastrophes arising from climate change.
Better conditions are in place for local governments in Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia and Peru to conserve biodiversity through the effective and equitable management of protected areas and other site-based conservation mechanisms.
GIZ is implementing the project in partnership with ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, a global network of cities, towns and communities committed to environmental protection and sustainable development, and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), an international non-governmental environmental network comprising numerous international government and civil society organisations. The environment ministries in the project countries are the lead executing agencies. The project is being implemented in close cooperation with the local governments and their associations and networks in the countries.
The measures build on the experience gained from existing initiatives and they entail a multilevel approach:
- Developing local government capacities: Lessons learned and existing management and funding instruments are being systematised and used as a basis for developing, adapting and applying appropriate training tools for local governments. In addition, these governments receive support in developing local biodiversity strategies and action plans for local protected areas.
- Embedding local governments’ role in biodiversity conservation more firmly in legal and institutional frameworks: Appropriate policy recommendations are prepared, based on an analysis of institutional frameworks.
- Communicating the challenges and benefits of local protected areas and other conservation mechanisms: The importance of the local governments’ conservation mechanisms is communicated to specific target groups. Lessons learned are disseminated at national and international events and key sector forums.
In São Paulo in May 2017, the first regional conference on the status of local protected areas in the four countries led to the creation of country-specific intervention strategies for the project, which were agreed with the respective environment ministries. In Brazil, the focus is on the integration of further regional protected areas into the national system of protected areas. Additional sub-national protected area systems are to be established in Ecuador. In Colombia, a bill is being drafted that provides for the recognition of complementary nature conservation strategies by local governments. In Peru, site-based conservation mechanisms are being systematised.
Local government representatives and their associations participate actively in the national working groups, giving them an opportunity to become involved in the planning and implementation of project measures. In Colombia, the municipalities were involved for the first time in the dialogue on the design of the Complementary Nature Conservation Strategy and the regional protected area systems. In Ecuador, the national working group supported the development of regulations on local protected areas and other site-based conservation mechanism in the new environmental legislation.