CitiesWithNature and COVID-19

 

In the time of the COVID-19 global pandemic, our network of cities and regions is on the frontline of response. The pandemic is calling us to increasingly connect online. CitiesWithNature, as a unique, next-generation initiative, is supporting an online community of practice, enabling learning and action around integrating nature in cities and (re)connecting people with nature. As almost half of humankind have lesser or even no options to connect with nature outdoors in these trying times, many are realising anew just how essential our connection with nature is for our own health and wellbeing, and how deeply it is longed for, once we are separated from it.  We all need nature, even more so in these unprecedented times where the fast-changing daily dynamics of COVID-19 are consuming and fundamentally altering our lives.

CitiesWithNature provides cities, other subnational governments and partners the virtual means to  continue to connect in solidarity with each other and to share, learn & inspire each other around integrating nature into our urban lives and to (re)connect people and nature in new, innovative ways, even during the most tumultuous of times.  To this end, our team is working as fast as we can to activate a new dedicated space on the CitiesWithNature platform for all participating cities which will focus on ways and reasons to connect our urban communities with nature even while under lockdown orders. We will let you know as soon as this new feature is activated!

Building resilience will be even more critical as we move forward during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. All cities critically depend on healthy, interconnected ecosystems within and around them. Furthermore, nature provides a wide range of tangible and intangible benefits to people and remains essential to the health and wellbeing of entire communities. There is a growing urgency for collective action to protect biodiversity and respect nature in and around cities to prevent irreversible loss and damage to those very natural systems that protect and nurture us. The CitiesWithNature platform offers an opportunity to remain connected to our fast-growing global “urban nature community” in this time of great uncertainty, by engaging with the profiles and projects of other cities and regions.

Additionally, cities and regions can continue to access a range of tools and resources online, even from new home-based offices, simply by registering, logging in, and engaging with the Nature Pathway.  By building an online profile, cities and regions can also showcase their innovative solutions and make their valuable successes achieved and lessons learnt, available to others who may be needing such online resources now more than ever.

Join CitiesWithNature and connect with the growing online network of cities and regions who are taking action for and with nature. The time is now to unite for a better collective urban future – one where people and nature thrive in harmony, together.

 

Resources

Below are some resources from organisations and cities around the world that you may find useful at this time:

Useful Websites

Check out these dedicated webpages by leading organisations. Each webpage contains a wealth of resources you may be interested in.

ICLEI

ICLEI-Africa

City of Calgary

IUCN

Nature4All

World Resources Institute

C40

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)

United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

UN-Habitat

World Urban Parks

To discover the best ideas EU smart cities offer to better deal with the everyday challenges posed by the COVID19 pandemic, visit the Urban Green website

 

Statements by Leading Organisations

These leading organisations have

 

General Resources

With the outbreak of Coronavirus, cities are increasingly faced with many challenges. Even the simplest daily tasks have to be rethought to ensure social distancing and support to persons in need. To embrace this challenge, cities are developing and implementing new ideas which will make them more resilient, stronger and smarter and so improve everyone’s wellbeing. Read more

  • How Coronavirus Could Help Us Fight Climate Change: Lessons From The Pandemic (Forbes)
  • Ways to Enjoy Nature While Social Distancing – Park People
  • ‘Normal was a crisis’: Why the Green New Deal is the perfect response for the post-Covid-19 economy (Edie)
  • The corona crisis: A catalyst for climate action? (EURACTIV)
  • IUCN statement on the COVID-19 pandemic – IUCN
  • Coronavirus: what the lockdown could mean for urban wildlife (The Conversation)
  • Streets will open to pedestrians around the city to give coronavirus-cooped New Yorkers more open spaceDaily News
  • Longing for the Great Outdoors? Think Smaller – City Lab
  • ‘It Sort of Give You Hope’: One Place New Yorkers Go to Escape Their Homes – New York Times
  • You can still go for walks during the coronavirus pandemic, just avoid these places – Global News
  • The Pandemic Is Not a Natural Disaster: The coronavirus isn’t just a public-health crisis. It’s an ecological one – The New Yorker
  • Singapore ramps up rooftop farming plans as virus upends supply chains – Connecting Nature
  • Applying the hard lessons of coronavirus to the biodiversity crisis – UNDP
  • How cities can support informal workers: covd-19 and beyond – WIEGO
  • How our cities can reopen after the COVID-19 pandemic – The Avenue
  • Tackling Inequality in Cities is Essential for Fighting COVID-19 – WRI
  • The Coronavirus Pandemic Could Give Business Leaders a Broader Mandate for Sustainability – WRI
  • Combating the Coronavirus Without Clean Water – WRI
  • 7 Tips to Make Your Food Last While You #StayAtHome – WRI
  • The Post-Pandemic Urban Future Is Already Here – City Lab
  • Climate crisis: in coronavirus lockdown, nature bounces back – but for how long? – The Guardians
  • COVID-19 Stimulus Measures Must Save Lives, Protect Livelihoods, and Safeguard Nature to Reduce the Risk of Future Pandemics – IPBES
  • Decalogue for the post COVID-19 era – UCLG
  • Coronavirus and the environment: 7 changes to expect (Deutsche Welle)
  • What happens when natural disasters strike during a pandemic? (National Geographic)
  • Conservation careers negatively affected by Covid-19 pandemic (Eco-Business)
  • Why You Should Care About Earth Day During the Global Coronavirus Pandemic (Teen Vogue, Op-ed)
  • Enduring the Climate and Coronavirus Crises: What Will It Take to Get Through Both? (DeSmog)
  • Public want radical response to climate change with same urgency as coronavirus, poll finds (The Independent)
  • The Coronavirus pandemic has created a rare crack in the system – let’s use it to create a better world (Green Peace)
  • Think This Pandemic Is Bad? We Have Another Crisis Coming (NY Times)
  • The Green Read: How coronavirus could help us save our planet (Al Jazeera)
  • COVID-19 and nature are linked. So should be the recovery. (WEF)
  • ‘Coronavirus profiteers’ condemned as polluters gain bailout billions (The Guardian)
  • Minister Schulze: Global nature conservation can reduce risk of future epidemics – (BMU)
  • Shaping a new social contract through the pandemic: Mary Robinson, Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Phil Bloomer, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

 

Biodiversity-Related Resources

  • Biodiversity to the rescue (Telegraph India)
  • Coronavirus fuels calls to clamp down on EU wildlife trade (Politico)
  • The coronavirus likely came from China’s wet markets. They’re reopening anyway. (Vox)
  • How Starfish, Snails and Salmon Fight Pandemics (NY Times)
  • As coronavirus consumes world, Microsoft unveils biodiversity initiative to address challenges that will outlast COVID-19 (Green Wire)
  • Biodiversity, pandemics and the circle of life (GreenBiz)
  • What we’ve got wrong about China’s ‘wet markets’ and their link to COVID-19 (WEF)
  • ‘Nature is enjoying itself without us’: coronavirus frees nature in Lebanon – video (The Guardian)

 

Resources on Health and well-being in our Cities

The theme for this year’s Parks Week (25 April-3 May) was #naturenevercloses. We are increasingly seeing the value of nature in our urban lives, and how important urban parks and green open spaces are for the health and wellbeing of urban citizens.

  1. Urban parks are critical resources to experience nature during the pandemic. Some simple guidelines for accessing nature can help keep you healthy. Remember to adhere to the rules set by your government.

Connecting with Nature While Social Distancing – The Exchange

Keep parks open. The benefits of fresh air outweigh the risks of infection. Read more

Ways to Enjoy Nature While Social Distancing – Park People

  1. As a result of the global outbreak of COVID-19, many are struggling to adjust to what has most certainly become our collective new normal: social distancing (or social solidarity), self-isolation, and in some cases quarantine and even complete lockdown. At this time, it is important to know that you are not alone. Read more

Managing mental health during coronavirus – experts around the world share insights – World Economic Forum

Cities create online hubs to connect citizens during coronavirus crisis – SmartCitiesWorld

Mental health tips for coping with COVID-19 fear – Iowa City Press

COVID-19 in Parks and Recreation: Supporting Community Health and Wellbeing During an Outbreak – OPENSpace

  1. Spending time in nature is vital for your mental health. But even 20 minutes of looking at nature (street trees, open fields, etc.) from your window will reduce your stress levels and relax your eye muscles! Read More

World Park Leaders Grow Here – In a time of crisis (COVID19) – World Urban Parks

Health benefits of green spaces in the living environment: A systematic review of epidemiological studies – ScienceDirect

The importance of connection people with nature in times of social isolation. Read more

You can still go for walks during the coronavirus pandemic, just avoid these places – Global News

Streets will open to pedestrians around the city to give coronavirus-cooped New Yorkers more open space – Daily News

‘It Sort of Give You Hope’: One Place New Yorkers Go to Escape Their Homes – New York Times

Urban parks and green spaces are essential for urban citizens at this time. Although regulations differ by city, and not all urban residents are able to access these spaces at the moment, our desire to connect with nature is a common reality. Can’t go outside today? Set up a world-watching window. Bring the outside in. Read more

Even Parks Are Going Online During the Pandemic – Next City

No gym? No park? No problem! Introducing our physical activity resources guide – Life & Culture

People Staying Home, Wildlife Occupying the Streets: Lessons from COVID-19 Lockdowns – the nature of cities

Example: London’s parks and green spaces are crucial for exercise and mental wellbeing. Read more

 

You can help prevent the spread of viruses, including coronavirus and other infectious illnesses with a few simple hygiene habits. Read more

Consumption, Production & Energy

  • The Coronavirus Reveals The ‘Invisible Inequalities’ In Our Food System (HuffPost)
  • Coronavirus: What could lifestyle changes mean for tackling climate change? (Carbon Brief)
  • Coronavirus: what are the chances we’ll change our behaviour in the aftermath? (The Conversation)
  • Green energy could drive Covid-19 recovery with $100tn boost (The Guardian)
  • Victoria Assigns Parks Staff To Start Growing Food For Residents – (HuffPost)
  • The Conversation.We analysed electricity demand and found coronavirus has turned weekdays into weekends.
  • Reuters. Coronavirus could trigger biggest fall in carbon emissions since World War Two.
  • The Guardian. Will the coronavirus kill the oil industry and help save the climate?

 

Policy

  • EU sees ‘Green Deal’ delays but keeps climate target plan: draft document (Reuters)
  • Can US stimulus funding help shift to clean energy? (Al Jazeera)
  • It’s time to fight for a green new world after coronavirus – here’s how (The Independent)
  • European Politicians, CEOs, Lawmakers Urge Green Coronavirus Recovery (NY Times)
  • South Korea Embraces EU-Style Green Deal For COVID-19 Recovery (Forbes)
  • From pandemics to poverty: hotspots of vulnerability in times of crisis.This brief outlines countries, sub-national areas and populations in or near poverty that need to be prioritised in the response to coronavirus.
  • GreenBook.In response to the current COVID-19 pandemic in South Africa, the GreenBook is providing access to information to assist with risk and vulnerability mapping and analysis. The GreenBook team created vulnerability indicators in support of identifying high-risk areas in our country (primarily in response to Climate Change), considering health susceptibility and transmission potential.
  • COVID-19-led ban on wild meat could take protein off the table for millions of forest dwellers.Lack of access to wild meat could result in hunger and malnutrition for local and Indigenous communities.
  • Governing Through Crisis.This five-part crisis management webinar series helps local and regional governments respond to COVID-19 – via 
  • Shaping a new social contract through the pandemic: Mary Robinson, Former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Phil Bloomer, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

 

Green Economy

As the economy and society continue to suffer from the impacts of the coronavirus, experts are already exploring how to stimulate a financial recovery. All roads could lead to a Green New Deal, but the green economy will need a clear and concise voice to push policy towards it. Read more

  • It’s time to fight for a green new world after coronavirus – here’s how – Independent
  • Want To Jump-Start The Economy? Include A Green New Deal In The Stimulus Package – Forbes
  • The corona crisis: A catalyst for climate action? (EURACTIV)

Finance

 

Urban planning

  • UNESCO Creative Cities Network. Cities Response to COVID-19.
  • The Post-Pandemic Urban Future Is Already Here.The coronavirus crisis stands to dramatically reshape cities around the world. But the biggest revolutions in urban space may have begun before the pandemic.
  • Pandemics Are Also an Urban Planning Problem.Will COVID-19 change how cities are designed? Michele Acuto of the Connected Cities Lab talks about density, urbanization and pandemic preparation.
  • Forbes. Sustainable Infrastructure In The Age Of Coronavirus: ‘Winners’ And Losers.
  • To Rebuild Our Towns and Cities, We Need to Design a Green Stimulus (Jacobin Magazine). The COVID-19 quarantine has exposed the importance of parks, sidewalks, and other public spaces to our collective well-being.

 

Webinars

https://youtu.be/lTEix3CCBSU

 

Podcasts

UCLGMetropolis, and UN-Habitat have launched a live learning experience with local and regional governments which, through solidarity and political will, are pushing more than ever to fulfil their critical role. They are working to carry out an affordable and fair service delivery, fostering the preservation of the commons, and promoting human rights.

Here some of the press releases published on the #BeyondTheOutbreak Live Learning Experience:

 

A webinar series on Building a Resilient Urban Africa during a Global Health Pandemic presented by CoM SSA and partners. City leaders will share their experiences, knowledge and good practices, and inspire new ways of building resilience at the local level in Africa, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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