Local Action for Biodiversity (LAB) is a global urban biodiversity programme coordinated by ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability. The LAB Pioneer WorkNet began in 2006 with a select group of local and regional authorities from around the world, representing over 54 million citizens. Referred to as the ‘LAB Pioneers’, these local authorities are currently international leaders in managing and conserving biodiversity at the local level.
The LAB Programme is an accessible and enabling platform for committed, leading local governments from around the world. This is achieved by profiling and promoting the importance of urban biodiversity and the role of local governments in its management, as well as by sharing the experiences, successes and challenges of urban biodiversity management in the participating cities and local authorities. Furthermore, technical support, networking opportunities, and advocacy are provided.
Under the auspices of the global LAB programme, the Local Action for Biodiversity: Wetlands South Africa (LAB: Wetlands SA) project is currently being implemented in 11 municipalities throughout South Africa. The aim of the project is to protect priority natural wetland resources, thus enabling the supply of ecosystem services and promoting resilient communities under a changing climate within South Africa.
Through the project, ICLEI aims to improve local government knowledge and understanding of the value of wetlands, initiate the process of integrating wetlands and ecosystem services into local government planning and decision making and to implement and pilot on the ground wetland projects within the participating municipalities.
During the course of 2015, the LAB: Wetlands SA team held an Inception Meeting with each of the 11 participating municipalities to introduce the project as well as establish relationships with the municipal officials. The team also facilitated 8 Wetland Awareness Raising Workshops which highlighted the value of wetlands to decision makers and land use planners. 3 more awareness raising workshops are scheduled to be completed before August 2016.
Additionally, the LAB: Wetlands SA team are now also compiling a Wetland Report for each of the municipalities participating in the project. The Wetland Report will not only act as an information database for municipal land use planners and environmental officers but will also act as a gap analysis which will inform the project approach within each of the participating municipalities going forward. The Wetland Reports are scheduled to be completed at the end of June.