Conference agreement set global targets for the protection of nature.

Conference agreement set global targets for the protection of nature.

Last month, government officials representing 195 countries met in Montreal, Canada for the 15th United Nations Biodiversity Conference (COP15). The City of Boulder was one of 15 local governments from the United States in attendance.

This once in a decade meeting comes at a critical time as more than a million plants, animals and other species are threatened with extinction. As species are lost, biodiversity dwindles. This leads to the breakdown of living systems that provide food, clean air and water, pest control, healthy soils and the regulation of our climate.

The goal of the conference was to agree on a roadmap to preserve and protect nature. Discussions led to a new set of targets aimed at halting and reversing biodiversity loss. These included protecting 30% of the planet by 2030, restoring damaged ecosystems, halving the risks associated with pesticides and doubling global funding to protect the natural world.

Pollinator garden with native plants

Pollinator garden

This was the first agreement to recognize the importance of empowering local governments to protect nature by giving them adequate resources and a seat at the table during global negotiations. Two new platforms, Cities with Nature and Regions with Nature, were launched to help local governments better advocate for stronger national and international protections for biodiversity. Boulder is among the first cities to join Cities with Nature.

A Historic Moment for Local Governments

“This is a historic moment for local governments to shape federal and global policy, as they will have to deal with the full impacts of biodiversity collapse,” said Rella Abernathy, the city’s senior ecologist and representative at the conference.

“The real work happens at the local level, and this was an important opportunity to share what we and our partners are doing here in Boulder with leaders from across the world. Boulder has an important role in rallying other communities to engage in policy setting. Communities must learn together and share knowledge to stop the degradation of living systems.”

Mushrooms on a rotting stump

Fungi are important decomposers; they break down dead plants and animals, recycling nutrients back into the soil.

Nature-Based Climate Solutions

The city supports natural systems that absorb carbon emissions, hold water, cool neighborhoods, protect biodiversity and strengthen local climate resilience. This approach, called nature-based climate solutions, includes expanding tree canopies, building healthy soils, and creating networks of pollinator gardens.

At the forefront of this work is Cool Boulder, a long-term campaign to create partnerships between the city, local organizations and the people of Boulder to implement nature-based climate solutions. Learn more and get involved at