A person watering a tree

Nature creates living and breathing cities

#Nature

In sustainable and just cities, nature-based planning is central. Rewilding initiatives, permaculture, biodiversity and continuously productive urban landscapes intersect with social and economic initiatives. They are designed with and around blue and green infrastructure, and aim for enhanced resilience. Urban nature provides shelter to flora and fauna, which, in turn, people use and enjoy. Natural infrastructure helps reduce hazards like urban heat islands, and this infrastructure is implemented and maintained in a way that supports the most vulnerable neighbourhoods. Harmful and polluting industries are scaled down and the use of cars is significantly reduced in order to allow human and non-human life to thrive.

Related keys: #Adaptation  #Accessibility  #Regional 

Several approaches activate this key to opening possibilities for more sustainable and just cities. To unlock the true power of nature we need to reconceptualize urban justice and sustainability, rethink governance for urban climate mitigation and adaptation, rely on nature-based solutions and nurture a culture of empowerment. Each of these approaches provides orientations, pathways and tools for invigorating, expanding and appreciating nature. They also help to conceptualise nature as inseparable from culture, environmental governance, problem-solving and comprehensive understandings of urban sustainability and justice. 

Nature’s vitality and potential in urban settings are stimulated through various means: comprehensive visions of change that are broad, integrated, and work from the bottom up; commitment to a meaningful participation process that can assure that the visioning process is well informed by community aspirations and localized placemaking potential; and building bridges between separate stakeholder groups to understand what is possible and makes the most sense in a given socio-ecological context. Developing resilient and self-sufficient financing arrangements is also needed to assure the capacity to implement the vision.

If integrated in an inclusive way, #Nature can help cities to overcome differentiations in access to the benefits of sustainability infrastructure and uneven and exclusionary urban intensification and regeneration. Urban #Nature is also crucial in dealing with uneven environmental health and pollution patterns, particularly in the context of unquestioned neoliberal growth and austerity urbanism.

Read about Nature-based Solutions (NBS), and their relationship to the UrbanA themes: Cities, sustainability, and justice on the Wiki on Sustainable Just Cities.

Inspirational example

Preventing floods with a stormwater park, Malmö (Sweden)

Inaugurated in 2020, the Dagvattenparken (Stormwater Park) in the Hyllie district of Southern Malmö combines green and blue infrastructure in a rapidly growing city. 

The park provides a stormwater reservoir for more than 6,600 m3 of water, which is much needed due to heavier rainfalls in the last few years. The scenic park, with its pedestrian and bicycle paths, a bridge to look over the treetops and meadow also serve as an oasis for the local habitants. The surrounding city is characterized by its young, diverse, multicultural and growing population, but also by its increasing densification. The rainwater park is an effort to simultaneously incorporate more nature into an urban area, manage the impacts of climate change and address equal access to nature in a dense city.

The chairman of the technical committee, Andreas Schönström (S) and project manager Edit Stormwalther, inaugurating Dagvattenparken.

Avenues for action

You might be wondering, what everyday actions can I take to put all this theory into practice? Take a look at the avenues for action, below, for some practical guidance.

Get inspired!

Bike hanging on a pole

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City square

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Environmental racism

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Urban Nature Atlas logo - a green atlas

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NATURVATION: cities • nature • innovation

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