CitiesWithNature offers the latest NbS tools & resources

Nature-based solutions (NbS) are all the rage, and rightly so. Working with nature makes sense. But urban systems and ecosystems are complex, so using NbS requires smart governance and technical know-how. Find what you need on the CitiesWithNature Tools & Resources Hub!

By Pieter Botha, CitiesWithNature Global Coordinator: Technical Development and Knowledge Management

Nature-based solutions are being used more and more by cities to boost their climate resilience and provide numerous other benefits for their citizens, both human and non-human. The field is developing rapidly, with many new studies and reports being published by global organisations like IUCN, ICLEI and WWF. How can cities stay up to speed and access the latest expert insights?

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.

Below are some appetisers. For the entire buffet, visit the CitiesWithNature Tools & Resources Hub.

  • Smart, Sustainable and Resilient Cities: the Power of Nature-based Solutions This working paper for the G20 investigates the potential of NbS to help build smart, sustainable and resilient cities. It covers best practices of NbS implementation in cities around the world and guiding principles for their implementation, with insights from global experts from ICLEI, UNEP, WWF and other leading organisations. Get it here.
  • Urban Nature Atlas: A Database of Nature-Based Solutions Across 100 European Cities This report from the Naturvation project gives an overview of the Urban Nature Atlas which gathers NbS projects and insights from across Europe. Get it here.
  • Nature-based Solutions to Climate Change Adaptation in Urban Areas This comprehensive book explores the dynamics, challenges, and breakthroughs in accelerating the uptake of NbS in cities. Get it here.
  • Urban Natural Assets for Africa Handbook Series How best to involve community members in planning and implementation of NbS? This handbook from ICLEI’s Urban Natural Assets project provides a collection of creative tools to encourage local participation and action in sub-Saharan Africa. Get it here.
Local and subnational governments that have signed up to CitiesWithNature have access to all functions of the Tools & Resources Hub, but anyone can browse, learn and be empowered to use NbS. In addition, the Hub also houses tools and resources on related topics such as ecosystem restoration and biodiversity conservation in urban contexts.

 

Medellín’s Green Corridors Project has created ecological continuity between several natural areas to support biodiversity and people’s well-being in Colombia’s second largest city. Medellín is one of the leading cities that have joined CitiesWithNature. Photo: GlobalCareerBook.com

Bishan-AMK Park is one of the largest urban parks in Singapore. A concrete storm drain that ran through the park has been naturalised into a 3 kilometer meandering river with lush, vegetated banks. Photo: Wikimedia

Wetlands are an important component of our global climate system, and crucial for water security and resilience. As the world meets on climate change in Glasgow, the Convention on Wetlands (also known as the Ramsar Convention) is hosting several events highlighting the multiple benefits of wetland conservation and restoration.

The Secretariat of the Convention on Wetlands is organizing three events during COP 26:

  • Financing Wetlands Conservation and Restoration for Climate Benefits – Challenges and Opportunities; 4 November, 10.00-12.00 UTC; Republic of Korea Pavilion; #COP26
  • Partners for Wetlands: Decade for Wetland Restoration; 8 November, 11:00-12:00 UTC; Peatlands Pavilion; #COP26
  • Leveraging MEA synergies: Peatland protection and restoration for climate outcomes; 10 November, 17:00-18:30 UTC; Peatlands Pavilion; #COP26

In addition, the Secretariat is also contributing to several other events.
See the overview here.

The Convention on Wetlands has also launched new publications on blue carbon ecosystems and peatlands These publications provide:

  • Policy recommendations for managing peatlands and blue carbon ecosystems to mitigate climate change.
  • Best practices on wise use and restoration of peatland ecosystems.
  • Information on extent and carbon storage capabilities of blue carbon ecosystems in Wetlands of International Importance.

The value of wetlands in and around cities is often still not fully appreciated. In recent years, Ramsar has awarded the status of “Wetland City” for the conservation and wise use of urban and peri-urban wetlands. So far, 18 cities in China, France, Hungary, South Korea, Madagascar and Sri Lanka have achieved this distinction. Read more about the Wetland City Accreditation scheme and how your city can get involved here.

Many partner organisations of CitiesWithNature are doing important work on wetlands. Examples include the following:

ICLEI, through its Cities Biodiversity Centre, is working with the City of Johannesburg in South Africa, inter alia, to map urban natural assets such as wetlands, enhance water catchment management and to better manage invasive alien plant species (a critical threat to wetlands). Wetland Management Guidelines for Building Capacity and Supporting Effective Management of Wetlands within South African Municipalities have also been developed. Read the guidelines here.

The UN Environment Programme works on protecting peatlands for people and planet, as part of the Global Peatlands Initiative. Read more here. Ecosystems like wetlands and mangroves, also in and around cities, are a priority for the UN Decade on Ecosystem RestorationRead more here. 

Wetlands is also one of the important practice areas for WWF. Read more about their work here and here.  

Anzali Lagoon in Iran is Ramsar-recognised and used to be an important fishery, but siltation, urban development, pollution and invasive alien plants threaten the ecosystem and the benefits it provides to people.

The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) launched their new handbook on 3 November at COP26 in Glasgow. The handbook provides detailed guidance to help the world’s cities address warming, which is occurring at twice the global average rate in urban areas.

Beating the Heat: A Sustainable Cooling Handbook for Cities, prepared with RMI, states that by the end of this century, many cities could warm as much as 4 °C if GHG emissions continue at high levels. Even at 1.5°C of warming, 2.3 billion people could be vulnerable to severe heat waves.

 The UpLink BiodiverCities Challenge is live!

The BiodiverCities Challenge is a global call for innovative solutions that are enabling cities to become nature-positive and fulfil their potential as engines of equitable and sustainable development, resilience, and well-being.

This challenge aims to identify, select, and showcase innovative solutions that have been successfully implemented and contribute to advancing the global transition to BiodiverCities by 2030, and help connect them to opportunities that can scale and accelerate their impact.

The best 10-20 submissions will be selected as part of the winning cohort, recognised as UpLink Top Innovators. They will join the UpLink Innovator Network and participate in a one-year Top Innovator Programme, designed to accelerate impact and scale their venture by leveraging the World Economic Forum’s and partner’s broad range of opportunities and networks. Submissions are open from 28 October to 1 December 2021.

CitiesWithNature and its partner organisations are at COP26 in Glasgow making the case for climate and nature goals to be pursued together in the urban context. They are hosting various in person, hybrid and virtual events in and around COP26, starting 31 October and running until 12 November.

Read on for a summary of important urban nature and climate events you can attend (document attached below).

 

Nature-based Solutions and Cities | Geneva NbS Dialogues

We are facing a triple planetary crisis – climate change, nature loss and pollution. In this context, Nature-based Solutions (NbS) are a powerful ally to address a societal and environmental challenges. As per IUCN definition, NbS are actions to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits.

NbS are a powerful tool to facilitate and catalyse the engagement of cross-sectoral stakeholders to join forces towards the implementation of an ambitious Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) and move towards achieving the CBD 2050 Vision of ‘Living in harmony with nature’.  NbS also offer a pathway for synergies among several multilateral environmental agreements, including for biological diversity (CBD), climate change (UNFCCC), disaster risk reduction (Sendai Framework), desertification (UNCCD) and the wider Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – and for mainstreaming nature conservation into sectoral decision-making processes.

In the lead-up to a critical year for nature and society, NbS offer an opportunity to address a wide range of urgent societal challenges. The year 2021 and the major upcoming negotiations should indeed mark a turning point towards a resilient world for future generations.

Join the Geneva Environment Network and the International Union for Conservation of Nature in a one-year journey, where experts from all over the world and different sectors will discuss throughout the year  how NbS are relevant to various debates ongoing in Geneva.

More information about the dialogues

 

 

On 20 October, an expert panel convened by ICLEI and the Humboldt National Research Institute of Biodiversity in Colombia is discussing “Cities Working With Nature to Improve Resilience and Urban Life”. This exciting event forms part of the World Bank’s webinar series Bringing Nature to Cities: Integrated Urban Solutions to Biodiversity Loss and Climate Change”. The 20 October session is illustrating how cities around the world are restoring nature back into the city to improve livability, health, sustainability, climate resilience, and overall well-being. The event is showcasing two global programs supported by international organizations, BiodiverCities by 2030 and CitiesWithNature — RegionsWithNature, followed by a presentation of best practices. Examples will demonstrate how cities around the world are working with nature to deal with everyday urban challenges, making nature a central part of the urban landscape and helping urban communities live in harmony with the environment. These presentations will focus on urban biodiversity and sustainable economy, citizen science, climate resilience and human health and well-being (focusing on inequality and social cohesion).

MODERATOR 

Jennifer Lenhart, Global Lead, WWF Cities

SPEAKERS

Hernando García, General Director, The National Research Institute of Biodiversity “Alexander von Humboldt”, Colombia, Kobie Brand, Deputy Secretary General, ICLEI, Felipe García, Head of the Biodiversity Sciences Program. The National Research Institute of Biodiversity “Alexander von Humboldt”, Colombia, Ingrid Coetzee, Director Biodiversity, Nature and Health, ICLEI, Dora Almassy, Researcher, Central European University

Register for this event here: https://www.thegpsc.org/events/gpsc-webinar-series-bringing-nature-cities-cities-working-nature-improve-resilience-and-urban

Co-hosted by the Global Platform for Sustainable Cities (GPSC) and the Global Program on Nature-Based Solutions for Climate Resilience, the World Bank series of thematic events provides an online knowledge exchange platform connecting policymakers, practitioners, and experts to further mainstream biodiversity considerations into cities and development projects. See past and future events in this series here: https://www.thegpsc.org/blogs/join-gpsc%E2%80%99s-new-webinar-series-bringing-nature-cities 

Enhancing urban nature via indigenous land management in Australian cities

Urban nature areas can benefit from indigenous land management practices such as cultural burns. The Australian city councils of Adelaide, Cairns and Yarra shared how they are partnering with Traditional Owners to achieve this at a recent webinar hosted by ICLEI Oceania.

The speakers explored how councils can work together more effectively with Traditional Owners to protect and restore nature in and around urban areas. The session was introduced by Councillor Amanda Stone from the City of Yarra, who is also Chair of ICLEI’s Regional Executive Committee. She highlighted the importance of recognising the owners of the land. “We have entered the UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, yet we have been causing enormous damage to our planet, we have been dismissing nature and using more resources. We need to bring nature back. Here in Australia, we are lucky to live in a land with thousands of years of transmitted knowledge through Traditional Owners about how to live in harmony with nature, how to respect the land. Learning from Traditional Owners is a gift but it is also a door to the future of more respectful relations with nature and the ancient land. So that we all have a future”.

Three stories were then shared about how the Councils of Cairns, Adelaide and the Yarra Ranges are working with traditional owners, their approach and protocols, and how these are being applied to biodiversity and NbS initiatives.

In the Cairns Regional Council, Sophie Barrett, Advisor Strategy & Sustainability, shared how the Council aims to develop a set of inclusive and culturally appropriate guidelines for Council staff, elected members and consultants to inform engagement and remuneration of Aboriginal Traditional Owner groups across the Cairns LGA.

From the City of Adelaide, Chris Butcher, Senior Sustainability Advisor (Biodiversity), and Marty Reeve, Kaurna Liaison Officer, shared their insights from work on the Adelaide Park Lands, where the Council is working with and empowering Kaurna and other First Nations People to restore historic land management practices as business as usual for native vegetation.

From the Yarra Ranges, Gary Detez, Indigenous Development Coordinator, shared how the indigenous knowledge of culture and country, skills and experience in both cultural burns and contemporary fire management practices, present a unique opportunity to reinvigorate Australia’s cultural fire knowledge to heal the land across Australia. The Firesticks Alliance is an Indigenous-led organisation that works with communities, land and fire agencies and organisations across Australia. The words from a fire stick practitioner resonated strongly: “Knowledge is the most important and safest thing you can use for building your culture back. Aboriginal peoples’ knowledge has been there for thousands of years”.

Overall, the webinar aimed to acknowledge Australia’s First Peoples as Traditional Owners and Custodians of the Land and to give respect to the Elders, past, present and emerging, and through them to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders People.

Watch the recording of the webinar here: https://www.icleioceania.org/icleioceanianews/2021/7/21/citieswithnature-australia-webinar-series-kaxjy-nbe6k

ICLEI Oceania manages the Oceania chapter of the CitiesWithNature initiative. Towns and cities in the Pacific, New Zealand and Australia are invited to join the initiative and explore how to enhance greening and biodiversity in their urban areas. CitiesWithNature offers a platform for sharing and interacting with other like-minded councils – to access events, resources, case studies, best practice models and knowledge promoting the benefits of nature-based solutions in cities.

Announcing RegionsWithNature: a new platform that boosts nature action by regional governments

An exciting new initiative dedicated to regional governments and their nature work is being launched today at Daring Cities 2021, the global virtual forum for urban leaders taking on the climate emergency. RegionsWithNature will be a dynamic online space where regional governments and their partners can connect, demonstrate their commitment to biodiversity goals, and access resources to enhance their landscape and territorial actions for nature. RegionsWithNature is building on the success of CitiesWithNature – which has grown to 190 cities and 17 partner organisations since its launch in 2018 – and will follow a similar model.

This partnership initiative is being developed by founding partners ICLEI, Regions4, IUCN, the Group of Leading Subnational Governments toward Aichi Biodiversity Targets (GoLS) and others. Founding regional governments that have already thrown their weight behind RegionsWithNature include Yucatan State in Mexico, São Paulo State and Pernambuco State in Brazil, Goa State in India, the Comunidad de Madrid in Spain and the Western Cape Province in South Africa. RegionsWithNature is being championed by Governor Mauricio Vila Dosal from the State of Yucatan, who is also a Member of ICLEI’s Global Executive Committee where he leads the Biodiversity Portfolio.

Watch the announcement event on 8 October at 16:30 CEST – or the replay – by registering for free at https://daringcities.org/2021-registration . Hear from speakers from ICLEI, Regions4, Yucatan State, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity and other leading organisations in this plenary session of the 2030 Visions Day of the Daring Cities forum.

Get a glimpse of what is to come by visiting the new website regionswithnature.org  and follow @Regionswnature on Twitter to stay up to date about developments. If you would like to find out more about RegionsWithNature or are from a regional government or partner organisation who would like to join and help build RegionsWithNature, get in touch by emailing info@regionswithnature.org

 

The need for RegionsWithNature

Many of the actions that we need to take to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises are needed at the territorial and landscape scale. Regional governments such as provinces and states have different mandates from cities and have unique and vital contributions to make. Regional governments are best positioned to work at the larger scale of landscapes and to implement solutions that span from urban to rural areas. For example, to achieve resilient water catchments and sustainable food systems we must work at these scales. Regional governments also play an essential role in supporting and enabling the local governments within their jurisdictions. The IPBES Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services emphasises that successful transformations towards sustainability, require governance approaches that are integrative, inclusive, informed and adaptive. 

To support the nature ambitions of regional governments and to ensure that multi-level governance opportunities for action are maximised, regional governments require a dedicated space. RegionsWithNature is being developed at the request of regions to have a space to make their voices heard, to share their experiences, and to showcase their commitments towards achieving national and global biodiversity targets. 

RegionsWithNature will serve regional governments from around the world, such as provinces, states, prefectures, and larger territories. The online platform will provide essential resources, tools and services and enable regions to mobilise political will and funding to achieve their ambitions for nature-positive development.

For media enquiries contact pieter.botha@iclei.org

 

The 2021 Learning Event #2

Biodiversity management practitioners from local and national government in South Africa will be sharing their experiences at a virtual forum on 22 September 2021. This learning event is hosted by the Local Government Biodiversity Learning Network, an initiative of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE), the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI) and ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability.

The event will provide an opportunity for municipal peer learning exchanges on biodiversity management for ecosystem restoration and discuss opportunities for funding and technical support. The theme of the event is ‘The Decade on Ecosystem Restoration’, in line with the global 10-year ecosystem restoration programme launched by the United Nations in 2021 with the aim of restoring ecosystems following the COVID-19 pandemic and supporting the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Municipalities play an integral role in the implementation of the SDGs, and should consequently be further empowered to restore and preserve ecosystems.

This event will be of particular interest to environmental practitioners in Metropolitan, District and Local municipalities; Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment local government support personnel; District Development Hub personnel in District and Metropolitan municipalities; Spatial planning and land use management personnel in Metropolitan, District and Local municipalities; Provincial environmental affairs departments and their conservation agencies; National Government Departments and Non-governmental organisations working on biodiversity management and research.

RSVP by 20th September 2021 with Ms Khaya Gumede (kgumede@salga.org.za) to attend.

Objectives of the learning event:

  • To engage with the community of practice of biodiversity professionals to enable them to share lessons about the implementation of biodiversity related projects.
  • To capture implementation challenges and solutions, particularly with the intention of “Making the Case” for biodiversity funding models and allocations.
  • To engage on strategies to enhance investment in ecological infrastructure and promote nature-based solutions in land use management practices.
  • To foster relationships and partnerships between municipalities for ongoing exchanges and shared services.
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