Durban Joins Cities of the World At The Cities For Life Summit: A Parallel Event To CBD COP 11
Durban was among the 500 participants, including approximately 220 local government representatives from 47 countries to attend the city and sub-national biodiversity summit, Cities for Life, held in parallel with the CBD/COP11 on 15 and 16 October in Hyderabad, India.
Participants included 60 city and sub-national leaders (governors, mayors, deputy mayors, and commissioners) as well as representatives of national, international and UN organizations, and experts in the field. The aim of the summit was to foster and unite local action for biodiversity. Some of the highlights of the summit include:


  • A strong and consolidated commitment by the various spheres of government and other organisations that attended to the implementation of biodiversity conservation and management, with particular reference to the Aichi Targets.
  • The launch of the Cities and Biodiversity Outlook (CBO).
  • Introduction to the Cities in Biodiversity Hotspots Programme, a ten-year global initiative seeking to provide over 250 cities located in and around the 35 biodiversity hotspots of the world with a platform to take action on biodiversity and aid city-to-city learning.
  • Drafting of the Hyderabad Declaration which among other things, reiterated the critical role that local governments play in preventing biodiversity loss. This was presented as the message from local and sub-national governments at the high level segment.

Councillor Zamazulu Ruth Sokhabase attended the Cities for Life Summit on behalf of His Worship Mayor Nxumalo and was applauded for Durban’s continuous dedication to biodiversity conservation and management as well as for innovation in this area. Acknowledgement was also made to the Durban Commitment which was first signed in 2008 at the international LAB (Local Action for Biodiversity) workshop held in Durban. By signing the Durban Commitment, local governments acknowledges accountability and responsibility for the health and well-being of its community through protecting, sustainably utilizing and managing biodiversity.

The Cities and Biodiversity Outlook - A Time of Challenges and Opportunities 
The Cities and Biodiversity Outlook (CBO) was launched at the Cities for Life Summit this year during the CBD/COP11 held in Hyderabad, India. This report is the first global assessment of the links between urban development, biodiversity and ecosystem services and draws on contributions from over 120 scientists and policy-maker from around the world. The most important message from the CBO is that more than 60 % of the area projected to be urban by 2030 is yet to be built, a challenge to natural environments but also an opportunity for urban dwellers to foster sustainable stewardship of the planet’s living resources.
Other key messages from the CBO are as follows:
  1. Rich biodiversity can and does exist in cities.
  2. Biodiversity and ecosystem services are critical natural capital.
  3. Maintaining functioning urban ecosystems can significantly improve human health and well-being.
  4. Urban EGS and biodiversity contributes to climate-change mitigation and adaptation.
  5. Increasing the biodiversity of urban food systems can enhance food and nutrition security.
  6. EGS must be integrated in urban policy and planning.
  7. Successful management of biodiversity and EGS must be based on multi-scale, multi-sectoral, and multi-stakeholder involvement.
  8. Cities offer unique opportunities for learning about a resilient and sustainable future.
  9. Cities have a large potential to generate innovations and governance tools and therefore can—and must—take the lead in sustainable development.

The UKZN Sandstone Sourveld Research Programme: Research Collaboration between the University Of KwaZulu-Natal and EThekwini Municipality 
​The UKZN Sandstone Sourveld Research Programme recently celebrated the completion of the first year since its inception, following the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement for a joint Research Programme between the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s School of Life Sciences and eThekwini Municipality’s Environmental Planning and Climate Protection Department. The Programme focusses on environmental management, specifically biodiversity conservation within KZN Sandstone Sourveld, in the face of global changes that include the impacts of a changing climate. Sandstone Sourveld.jpg
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KZN Sandstone Sourveld is currently classified as critically endangered and endangered by EKZNW and SANBI, respectively. Its distribution is entirely within KZN extending from Kranskop near the uMvoti River in the north to the Mtwalume River in the south. In the EMA, this ecosystem is found in isolated localities between iNanda Mountain and uMbumbulu.
Scientists estimate that within the eThekwini Municipality approximately 73% of this vegetation has already been lost through transformation for agriculture and development, with only 0.2% being under formal protection within the province of KwaZulu-Natal. This veld type has high species richness, especially forbs and high rates of endemism (e.g. Berkheya umbellate, a forb species endemic to KZN) coupled with vital ecosystem services (e.g. a source of medicinal plants, ground water recharge and storm water attenuation). 

Ecological FootPrinting
One of the requirements of the Host Country Agreement with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the calculation and mitigation of the event's local carbon footprint. However, the carbon footprint of an event does not take into consideration the impacts of the increased consumption of other natural resources such as water, food and energy.
Neither does it consider the impact on ecosystem services that are needed to supply these resources and take up the waste outputs. Such ecosystem services include water supply, energy production, food production, waste assimilation and dilution. As part of the COP17/CMP7 Greening Programme, the eThekwini Municipality will develop and test a methodology for calculating the ecological footprint of COP17/CMP7.
An ecological footprint provides an indication of the quantities of resources consumed or waste generated, as well as the demand that this consumption places on natural assets. A methodology to develop an ecological footprinting that is specific to the local context has been created. This will provide an opportunity for eThekwini Municipality to (1) pioneer the use of a new tool within the context of the COP17/CMP7 Greening Programme so that this can be used in future events; (2) raise awareness of the full environmental impact of COP17/CMP7 and the types of interventions that would be needed to offset this, specifically in relation to biodiversity and (3) use the outputs of the ecological footprint calculation to prompt changes in behaviour from delegates at future events. It is anticipated that this methodology will have legacy value beyond the COP and that it can be used in future by other event host cities as part of their greening programmes.
To learn about the possible ecological footprint for COP 17/CMP 7 Click here
Invasive Alien Plants: Their Nature, Management, and Links to Climate Change
The Nature of Invasive Alien Plants
Invasive Alien Plants (IAPs) are plants that have arrived in a new location, usually as a result of human activities, be they accidental or intentional. In the case of South Africa, most of the invasive alien plant species that have proved most problematic as invaders, in fynbos and other biomes arrived between 1825 and 1860 along with inward waves of human migration.