Funded under Horizon 2020, the UrbanByNature programme harnesses the expertise of over 60 partners involved in the CONNECTING Nature and CLEVER Cities projects. As depicted on the CONNECTING Nature website, regional hubs have already been implemented in Brazil, Korea and the Caucasus. These developments mark the first phase of UrbanByNature. Launched in 2019, it is focused on building bridges with local nature-based solutions communities and bringing in local and subnational authorities and related stakeholders to take the programme forward.
Expanding the programme’s reach
In keeping with the goals of the first phase, UrbanByNature has now added a fourth hub, an EU-China cooperation stream. The launch took place on the occasion of the 4th High-Level International Forum on Sustainable Urban Development, held in Chengdu, China, on 16-17 November 2020. The dedicated event was organised by ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability. A partner in both the CONNECTING Nature and CLEVER Cities projects, ICLEI connects in a global network over 1 750 local and regional governments that are committed to sustainable urban development. Referring to the latest launched hub, an ICLEI news item notes that the EU-China “stream will convene a multi-stakeholder cooperation between Chinese organisations and EU-funded projects.” Various cities in China have already indicated their interest in being a part of UrbanByNature. “In China, the programme will introduce nature-based solutions (NBS) as a new approach to improve urban sustainability, and connect European and Chinese cities in NBS innovation and implementation via good practice sharing and interactive discussions on policy development,” the news item elaborates. Holger Robrecht, ICLEI Europe Deputy Regional Director for Sustainable Resources, Climate and Resilience, in commenting on the development also made the link with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. An article featured on ‘Innovators’ quotes Robrecht as saying: “Cities and towns are bearing the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has made the links between human and planetary health clearer than ever. By creating a space for in-depth reflection on the relationship between humans and the environment, and for sharing solutions to restore nature while addressing critical urban challenges, UrbanByNature will allow Chinese and European urban practitioners to cooperate in building spaces that value nature as the central source of human well-being.” For his part, Regional Director at ICLEI East Asia Shu Zhu further underlined the need to integrate nature into daily life. “The ICLEI East Asia Secretariat is excited to facilitate the knowledge and expertise change between China and Europe, through UrbanByNature, in mainstreaming nature-based solutions into urban development,” Zhu said.
On the pathway to cities with nature
UrbanByNature, besides being coordinated by ICLEI, is hosted by CitiesWithNature. Its conceptual framework aligns with the latter’s Nature Pathway approach that provides 27 prompts to help cities mainstream urban nature in their planning and development processes and become CitiesWithNature. The dedicated web page distinguishes between the activities of the two projects: “While the Connecting Nature project focuses on leveraging nature-based solutions for urban water and climate resilience, the CLEVER Cities project uses nature-based solutions as a means for inclusive urban regeneration, enhancing social cohesion and increasing economic opportunities.” The CONNECTING Nature (COproductioN with NaturE for City Transitioning, INnovation and Governance) project comes to a close end-May 2022. The CLEVER Cities (CLEVER Cities - Co-designing Locally tailored Ecological solutions for Value added, socially inclusivE Regeneration in Cities) project will end in May 2023. For more information, please see: CONNECTING Nature project website CLEVER Cities project website
CONNECTING Nature, CLEVER Cities, UrbanByNature, China, nature-based solutions