City Biodiversity Index



The City Biodiversity Index, also known as the Singapore Index on Cities’ Biodiversity, measures biodiversity in cities, and highlights how biodiversity conservation efforts can be improved. The idea was proposed by then Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan at the Conference of Parties (COP) to the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) held in Bonn, Germany, in 2008.1 It was formulated by Singapore’s National Parks Board, in cooperation with the United Nations and a taskforce of international experts. The index was officially endorsed at the following COP in October 2010 as a self-assessment monitoring tool, and is the only index of its kind catering specifically to cities.2

Purpose
According to the UN, 50 percent of the world’s population was residing in cities in 2008, and the percentage is expected to rise to 70 percent by 2050.3 The City Biodiversity Index aims to serve as a self-assessment monitoring tool to promote better management of resources and conservation of biodiversity internationally. The index also serves as a platform through which cities can share solutions for conserving biodiversity and overcoming the problems of increased urbanisation, climate change and city planning and management.4


The index is regarded as the first tool of its kind designed specifically to gauge the biodiversity conservation efforts of cities. Other existing indices, such as the 2005 Environmental Sustainable Index and the 2008 Environmental Performance Index, are more suited for countries and not easily applicable to cities.5

Developments
Singapore is one of 193 countries that is party to the CBD, which was formed in 1993. The main goals of the CBD are to conserve biological diversity, ensure sustainable use of the components of biological diversity, and share the benefits of genetic resources.6 Initially held on an annual basis, the COP has met every two years since 1996 to discuss and make decisions in order to achieve the goals of the convention. At the COP in 2008, Mah proposed the idea of establishing a City Biodiversity Index under the guidance of the CBD.7


The effort to develop the index was a collaboration of Singapore’s National Parks Board (NParks), the United Nations (UN) and an international UN task force of experts on cities and biodiversity. The team was made up of 17 international experts from London, Germany, Stockholm, the UN, the CBD and Dr Lena Chan of NParks.8 From 2009, experiments were carried out as the index was developed. Over 30 cities around the world contributed towards its formulation and development by participating in various stages of tests. The results of these tests were subsequently used to further refine and improve the index.9

In October 2010, Mah presented the City Biodiversity Index at the COP in Nagoya, Japan. The index was formally adopted and implemented as part of the plan of action.10

Features
The Singapore Index has a total of 23 indicators that look at three main components: “Native Biodiversity in the City”, “Ecosystem Services Provided by Biodiversity”, and “Governance and Management of Biodiversity”.11


Native biodiversity consists of 10 indicators, including natural and semi-natural areas, the diversity of ecosystems, fragmentation and five different native species, among others. Plants, birds and butterflies are set categories among the five different native species, leaving individual cities to identify another two native species most applicable to them.12

The ecosystem services index has four indicators: “Regulation of Quantity of Water”, “Climate Regulation: Carbon Storage and Cooling Effect of Vegetation”, “Recreation and Education: Area of Parks with Natural Areas; and “Recreation and Education: Number of Formal Education Visits per Child Below 16 Years to Parks with Natural Areas per Year”.13

The governance and management index refers to the policies and plans made with regard to biodiversity. There are nine indicators under governance, including outreach programmes, budget set aside for biodiversity projects, education, and collaboration with companies and charities.14 


Singapore attained a score of 80 out of 100 in a preliminary test of the City Biodiversity Index, indicating that it fared well in terms of governance, but could improve in the area of ecosystem services. Freshwater supplies were also highlighted as an area for improvement.15

The index is intended as a positive indication of the biodiversity conservation efforts of cities, and aims to highlight areas in which these efforts can be improved. Cities are not ranked based on the results of the index.16

Timeline
May 2008: Then Minister for National Development Mah Bow Tan proposes the idea of the City Biodiversity Index at the 9th Conference of Parties in Germany.17
Feb 2009: NParks and the secretariat of the CBD hold the first expert workshop on the development of the index.18
Jun 2009: The index is presented at an international forum for the first time.
Nov 2009: The user’s manual on the index is posted on the CBD website.
Jan 2010: Mah Bow Tan promotes the index at the 2nd Curitiba Meeting on Cities and Biodiversity.19
Mar 2010: The index is introduced at the East Asia Summit High Level Seminar on Environmentally Sustainable Cities meeting.20
Apr 2010: The ASEAN workshop on City Biodiversity Index is held.21
May 2010: The Urban Biodiversity and Design 2010 conference is held in Nagoya, Japan.22
Jun 2010: The World Cities Summit 2010 is held in Singapore.23
Jul 2010: The 2nd Expert Workshop is held on the development of the City Biodiversity Index.24
Oct 2010: The City Biodiversity Index is endorsed at the COP in Nagoya, Japan.25



Author

Cherylyn Tok



References
1. 
Tay, S. (2008, May 30). Bringing wildlife back to the city: S’pore’s idea. Today, p. 10; Vaughan, V. (2010, July 3). Cities to get biodiversity index. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2.
Chan, J. (2010, November 2). S’pore leads green wave with biodiversity index. Today, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3.
Vaughan, V. (2010, July 3). Cities to get biodiversity index. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4.
Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. (2012). Cities and biodiversity outlook: Action and policy (p. 53). Retrieved 2017, June 6 from Convention on Biological Diversity website: https://www.cbd.int/doc/health/cbo-action-policy-en.pdf
5.
Rodricks, S. (2010, November). Singapore City Biodiversity Index (pp.1, 3). Retrieved 2017, August 20 from The Economics of Ecosystems & Biodiversity website: http://www.teebweb.org/wp-content/uploads/CaseStudies/Singapore%20City%20Biodiversity%20Index.pdf
6.
Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. (n.d.). List of parties. Retrieved 2017, June 6 from Convention on Biological Diversity Website: https://www.cbd.int/intro/default.shtml
7.
Chua, G. (2009, May 1). S'pore to develop biodiversity index. The Straits Times, p. 47. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8.
National Parks Board. (2008, May 29). The Singapore Index on Cities’ Biodiversity – Roadmap. Retrieved 2017, June 6 from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
9. Rodricks, S. (2010, November). Singapore City Biodiversity Index (p. 4). Retrieved 2017, August 20 from The Economics of Ecosystems & Biodiversity website: http://www.teebweb.org/wp-content/uploads/CaseStudies/Singapore%20City%20Biodiversity%20Index.pdf
10.
National Parks Board. (2010, October 27). Singapore Index to be endorsed in Nagoya. Retrieved 2017, August 22 from National Parks website: https://www.nparks.gov.sg/news/2010/10/singapore-index-to-be-endorsed-in-nagoya
11.
National Parks Board. (2015, September 23). Singapore Index on Cities’ Biodiversity. Retrieved 2017, August 22 from National Parks website: https://www.nparks.gov.sg/biodiversity/urban-biodiversity/the-singapore-index-on-cities-biodiversity; Vaughan, V. (2010, July 3). Cities to get biodiversity index. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
12.
Chan, L., et al. (2014, July). User’s manual on the Singapore Index on Cities’ Biodiversity (Also known as the City Biodiviertiy Index) (p. 4). Retrieved 2017, August 22 from National Parks website: https://www.nparks.gov.sg/~/media/nparks-real-content/biodiversity/singapore-index/users-manual-on-the-singapore-index-on-cities-biodiversity.pdf?la=en; Vaughan, V. (2010, July 3). Cities to get biodiversity index. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
13.
Chan, L., et al. (2014, July). User’s manual on the Singapore Index on Cities’ Biodiversity (Also known as the City Biodiviertiy Index) (p. 4). Retrieved 2017, August 14 from National Parks Board website: https://www.nparks.gov.sg/~/media/nparks-real-content/biodiversity/singapore-index/users-manual-on-the-singapore-index-on-cities-biodiversity.pdf?la=en
14.
Chan, L., et al. (2014, July). User’s manual on the Singapore Index on Cities’ Biodiversity (Also known as the City Biodiviertiy Index) (p. 4). Retrieved 2017, August 14 from National Parks Board website: https://www.nparks.gov.sg/~/media/nparks-real-content/biodiversity/singapore-index/users-manual-on-the-singapore-index-on-cities-biodiversity.pdf?la=en
15.
Vaughan, V. (2010, July 3). Cities to get biodiversity index. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16.
Vaughan, V. (2010, July 3). Cities to get biodiversity index. The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
17.
Singapore proposes establishment of City Biodiversity Index. (2008, May 29). Channel NewsAsia. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
18. Chan, L., et al. (2014, July). User’s manual on the Singapore Index on Cities’ Biodiversity (Also known as the City Biodiviertiy Index) (p. 35). Retrieved 2017, August 14 from National Parks Board website:
https://www.nparks.gov.sg/~/media/nparks-real-content/biodiversity/singapore-index/users-manual-on-the-singapore-index-on-cities-biodiversity.pdf?la=en
19.
Chay, F. (2010, January 8). Share solutions, Mah urges world’s cities. The Business Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
20.
Institute for Global Environmental Strategies. (2010). The City Biodiversity Index: High Level Seminar on Environmentally Sustainable Cities under the East Asia Summit Environment Ministers Meeting, 2­­–4 March 2010, Jakarta, Indonesia. Retrieved 2017, June 6 from Institute for Global Environmental Strategies website: http://hls-esc.org/documents/1hlsesc/CP5.pdf
21.
Institute for Global Environmental Strategies. (2010). The CBI - Roadmap to COP-10, Nagoya. Retrieved 2017, August 15 from Institute for Global Environmental Strategies website: http://hls-esc.org/documents/1hlsesc/CP5.pdf
22.
Institute for Global Environmental Strategies. (2010). The CBI - Roadmap to COP-10, Nagoya. Retrieved 2017, August 15 from Institute for Global Environmental Strategies website: http://hls-esc.org/documents/1hlsesc/CP5.pdf
23.
Institute for Global Environmental Strategies. (2010). The CBI - Roadmap to COP-10, Nagoya. Retrieved 2017, August 15 from Institute for Global Environmental Strategies website: http://hls-esc.org/documents/1hlsesc/CP5.pdf
24.
Chan, L., et al. (2014, July). User’s manual on the Singapore Index on Cities’ Biodiversity (Also known as the City Biodiviertiy Index) (p. 31). Retrieved 2017, August 14 from National Parks Board website: https://www.nparks.gov.sg/~/media/nparks-real-content/biodiversity/singapore-index/users-manual-on-the-singapore-index-on-cities-biodiversity.pdf?la=en
25.
Chua, G. (2010, October 28). UN to adopt S’pore nature ‘report card’ for cities. The Straits Times, p. 28. Retrieved from NewspaperSG



The information in this article is valid as at 2011 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Biodiversity--Monitoring--Singapore
Science and technology>>Biology>>Biodiversity
Nature conservation
Biodiversity conservation--Singapore
Nature>>Nature Conservation