How to let nature-based solutions flourish

To implement nature-based solutions successfully in urban areas we need smart policies and effective ways of working together with many different stakeholders. The Urban Nature Atlas is a great place to learn from various nature-based solutions that cities have already implemented. Take a look at this database developed by CitiesWithNature partner organisation Naturvation below. 

But what policy instruments can we use in cities to encourage nature-based solutions such as ecosystem restoration or sustainable urban drainage systems? A new database, the Urban Governance Atlas, will provide proven policy instruments. They are inviting people to nominate policy instruments that could be included in the database until 30 June:

The Urban Governance Atlas (UGA) will be an interactive online database of around 250 good practice policy instruments that support the use of nature-based solutions (NBS) for urban ecosystem restoration and more inclusive green space planning. The first database of its kind, the UGA will allow users to explore a different kinds of policy instruments being applied across the world, especially those coming from countries in the EU and Latin America. By focusing on instruments that have been proven to work well, the UGA will support cities to become greener and more inclusive and serve as a resource for civil society, the scientific community, and wider audiences.

In addition to serving as a resource, the UGA provides an opportunity for you to share your knowledge and be part of a global community working on NBS. By helping us to fill in the UGA, your organization or project logo can also be featured on the website! Sound interesting?

  1. Nominate policy instruments for us to include in the database (email these to; and
  2. Fill out a short questionnaire per instrument (for more information, visit our informational page and watch our short introductory video)

For any questions, please contact Thank you for your support and we look forward to hearing from you!

Nominations and inputs are welcome until  30 June 2022.


What's in a name?

Speaking of nature-based solutions, what exactly are they? Definitions matter and there has been a fair amount of debate about how nature-based solutions should be defined. At the UN Environment Assembly earlier this year, the following definition was adopted:

Nature-based solutions are ‘actions to protect, conserve, restore, sustainably use and manage natural or modified terrestrial, freshwater, coastal and marine ecosystems, which address social, economic and environmental challenges effectively and adaptively, while simultaneously providing human well-being, ecosystem services and resilience and biodiversity benefits.’

Shinobazu Pond in Ueno Park in Tokyo, Japan. Photo by DLKR on Unsplash

CitiesWithNature offers the latest NbS tools & resources

The Tools & Resources Hub on the CitiesWithNature platform provides easy access to a wide range of reliable resources and cutting-edge tools on nature-based solutions. All in one place, and for free.

Montréal in Canada is leading the way by weaving nature into its urban fabric. The city, which hosts the Secretariat of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), works on various initiatives to protect ecosystems, promote nature in the city and encourage residents to take part in local initiatives, as part of the city’s ecological transition. 

Not only was Montréal among the pioneer cities to join CitiesWithNature, the CitiesWithNature initiative was launched in Montréal in 2018 at the ICLEI World Congress by the founding partners ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC).

Montréal’s city profile on CitiesWithNature, introduces the city’s considerable nature initiatives and key policies, plans and projects that they have shared on their Nature Pathway.

One of these initiatives is Montréal’s shiny new insectarium that aims to connect people with nature through an innovative approach. The insectarium is the first museum in North America that provides people the opportunity to get up close to living insects as they move around freely in immersive habitats. Montréal’s Mayor, Valerie Plante, recently opened the redesigned space.

One of the iconic insects featured at the insectarium is the monarch butterfly. This eye-catching species is renowned for its long-distance migration from Canada through the USA to Mexico. Given this migration pattern, the local actions of cities and citizens matter on a global level: protecting the monarch’s habitat and its food plants throughout North America is essential for the survival of this species.

Similarly, another leading CitiesWithNature city, San Antonio in Texas, planted the North American Friendship Garden in collaboration with counterparts from Mexico and Canada. This garden includes a pollinator garden to provide a sanctuary for monarch butterflies during their international migration. Read more about this inspiring initiative.

Photos by Joshua J. Cotten on Unsplash

Here on the CitiesWithNature platform, over 200 cities from around the world are connecting, sharing their experiences and actions, and benefiting from access to a range of partner organisations and practical tools.

CitiesWithNature enables local governments and their partners to:

Showcase their city’s actions and plans, understand how they contribute to global nature goals and easily track their achievements on the Action Platform

Integrate nature throughout their city’s plans, policies and operations via the Nature Pathway

Access cutting-edge tools and resources on nature-based solutions, ecosystem restoration and biodiversity conservation on the Tools & Resources Hub

Get practical guidance on key topics such as resilience and catchment management via the Guides

Connect with other cities and leading international partner organisations

Share their city’s nature work with a global audience

Not yet part of CitiesWithNature? It’s easy and free to join. Watch this tutorial to see how to register your city and activate your account on CitiesWithNature:

Your City Profile is where you can showcase your city’s nature work and where all your activities on the platform are gathered.  The basic information that cities can upload on their City Profiles is a photo of the mayor, a short overview of the city, its natural features and biodiversity work, relevant social media channels, and some photos of natural areas and biodiversity initiatives that the city is proud of.

In addition to this standard information, cities use the Nature Pathway to share key documents such as their Environmental Strategy, Local Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, etc., to showcase their work and inspire other cities.

On the Tools and Resources Hub, cities can also share specific tools or resources such as guidelines, handbooks or case studies.

Lastly, cities can also post news updates, photos, videos or weblinks on their City Profiles.

Check out the inspiring profiles of these cities: Barcelona, Cape Town, Montreal, San Antonio TXBaia Mare and West Torrens in Adelaide

The Tools & Resources Hub on the CitiesWithNature platform provides easy access to a wide range of reliable resources and cutting-edge tools on nature-based solutions. All in one place, and for free. See what tools and resources we have on nature-based solutions. 

What is the Nature Pathway?
The Nature Pathway is a comprehensive roadmap that helps you to integrate nature throughout your city’s plans, policies and operations. It is based on a tried-and-tested ICLEI methodology and provides step-by-step guidance and tools for mainstreaming biodiversity in your city. On the Nature Pathway you will find useful examples of policies, plans, projects and tools from other cities and leading international organizations. You can also showcase your city’s own work and inspire others by uploading relevant documents as you progress along the Nature Pathway.

The new-look Nature Pathway features an intuitive interface, easy navigation and new functions. Keep an eye out for the new tutorial on the site, which explains all the different parts of the Nature Pathway.

Sign up to our monthly newsletter!
The CitiesWithNature and RegionsWithNature Buzz Newsletter is a monthly roundup of important news, events and new insights about what local and regional governments – and their partners – are doing to boost nature and benefit people.

Visit our sister platform, RegionsWithNature
Regional governments like provinces and states are uniquely positioned to promote nature-positive development at the landscape scale and across urban-rural linkages. RegionsWithNature will support regional government officials and other stakeholders to enhance ecosystem restoration, biodiversity conservation and nature-based solutions in their regions. Read more here.

Photo by Krisztina Papp on Unsplash

Learn how participating cities can publish their nature and biodiversity commitments and progress on the CitiesWithNature Action Platform, share their journey with other cities, and use the Action Platform to generate reports and inform decision making in their own council and community.

Join leading Australian cities at this webinar hosted by ICLEI Oceania to learn more about their nature work and for a demonstration of the new CitiesWithNature Action Platform.

Wednesday 6 April at 4pm – 5:15pm AEST

Virtual Zoom Event

Register free here.


This webinar will demonstrate how to use the Platform and feature some updates from several cities in preparation for populating the Action Platform.

Speakers will include:
– Cr Amanda Stone, Councillor, Yarra City Council, Melbourne
– ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Centre
– Melbourne
– West Torrens
– Wollongong  

Sublime Point Lookout, Maddens Plains, near Wollongong, Australia. Image credit:

Momentum is growing for a strong new decision on the role of cities and subnational governments in the world's biodiversity plans and actions until 2030.

As the Geneva resumed meeting on the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is ongoing, ICLEI, a major city network involved closely in the negotiations, and the Geneva Cities Hub, a platform fostering local and regional governments and their networks’ participation in multilateral diplomacy, have organized an informal meeting today at the Villa Rigot to gain support for a proposed renewed decision of Decision X/22. This Decision adopted in 2010, made the CBD the only multilateral environmental agreement with a consistent 10-year plan of action for engaging subnational governments, cities and other local authorities. The Edinburgh Process, of which ICLEI was a key partner, resulted in the Edinburgh Declaration. This Declaration expresses the ambitions of subnational governments and cities and calls for a renewed decision and plan of action. UK has supported this call and submitted a draft decision text and renewed plan of action as main co-sponsor, which has resulted in a draft recommendation (CBD/SBI/3/CRP.8).

Read the draft Plan of Action on Subnational Governments, Cities and Other Local Authorities for Biodiversity (2021-2030) here. 

ICLEI and the Geneva Cities Hub call upon parties to support the adoption of CBD/SBI/3/CRP.8 as a result of this preparatory work. We need the active participation and contributions of local and subnational governments to support State Parties in achieving successful implementation of the global and national biodiversity targets, said Ingrid Coetzee, on behalf of ICLEI.

We’re glad that we provided space for relevant persons to meet (preferably in person!) and move things forward together. We hope that the draft decision will be adopted by CBD Parties so that local and regional governments may be fully involved in the global debate on biodiversity, said Kamelia Kemileva, Co-Director of the Geneva Cities Hub.

This news story was first published on 17 March on

Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash 

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