What is the Urban Biosphere Initiative?

The concept of urban biosphere (URBIS) emerged amidst increasing awareness that cities are not discrete, self-contained entities, but rather are dynamic nodes of activity, absorbing vast quantities of natural resources, producing massive amounts of waste, interacting profoundly with their encompassing bioregions, and substantially altering both near and distant ecosystems. At the same time, modern cities offer unprecedented and often untapped opportunities for innovation, efficiency-gains, leadership and social organization.

The imperative for action to harness such opportunities and render extractive cities more ecologically restorative spurred the birth of an international initiative to address the design and governance of urban regions and surrounding ecosystems. 

Who is involved?

URBIS

The Cities Biodiversity Center of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability hosts the URBIS Secretariat, a role which is executed in close partnership with the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) as Scientific Coordinator and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD) as a facilitator between local, sub-national and national governments.

Partners include local and sub-national governments, ministries, international organisations, non-governmental organisations, research institutions and individuals.

 

URBIS partners.jpg

 

Feeding Time

This weeks featured project!

Saium-Castanheiras Wildlife Refuge

We are pleased to announce that this weeks featured project is the Saium-Castanheiras Wildlife Refuge. The "Sauim-Castanheiras" was created in 1982 by the former President of Brazil, Joso Figueiredo, as an ecological reserve on land under the control of the Superintendence of the Manaus Free Trade Zone - SUFRAMA. Its main objective would be to protect an area planted of "castanha-do-brazil" (bertholetia excels) trees and the endogenous primate population of saium de manaus (Sanguinus bicolor) monkeys.

The program's contribution to the respective CBD Aichi Targets

Strategic Goal A: Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society.
Target 1: By 2020, at the latest, people are aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably.
Strategic Goal C: To improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity.
Target 12: By 2020 the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline, has been improved and sustained.
Aesthetic Biocontrol                 Carbon                      Climate                    
Erosion Food Fresh Water Genetic
Habitat Material Medicinal Moderation
Pollination Recreation Spiritual Tourism
Water Purification 

Click here for more information

Icons designed by Jan Sasse for TEEB

TEEB Ecosystem Services

 URBIS- A quest to engender cities with greater socio-ecological resilience in the face of environmental change.

URBIS designation process.jpgThe URBIS Designation Process

Open for feedback and comment: 

Steps and criteria to becoming an URBIS city of distinction.

Find out more

HERE

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We want your case studies!
Send pictures, news and case studies to:
urbis@iclei.org
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The URBIS initiative comprises a global alliance of partners aspiring to reconcile urban development with the conservation of biodiversity and the sustainable use of natural resources – a quest to engender cities with greater social-ecological resilience in the context of global environmental change.


The concept of urban biosphere (URBIS) emerged amidst increasing awareness that cities are not discrete, self-contained entities, but rather are dynamic nodes of activity, absorbing vast quantities of natural resources, producing massive amounts of waste, interacting profoundly with their encompassing bioregions, and substantially altering both near and distant ecosystems. At the same time, modern cities offer unprecedented and often untapped opportunities for innovation, efficiency-gains, leadership and social organization. 

The imperative for action to harness such opportunities and render extractive cities more ecologically restorative spurred the birth of an international initiative to address the design and governance of urban regions and surrounding ecosystems.  The initiative aligns with broader international efforts to implement the ecosystem approach and build inclusive green urban economies. 

Who is involved?

What binds URBIS partners?

What do URBIS partners do?

Want to join?

 


 Who is involved?

At the 10th Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD COP10), in Nagoya, Japan, 2010, at which a Plan of Action was adopted for the engagement of local authorities in the Convention, a number of partners formalised their support for the URBIS initiative by way of a declaration. 

The Cities Biodiversity Center of ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability hosts the URBIS Secretariat, a role which is executed in close partnership with the Stockholm Resilience Centre (SRC) as Scientific Coordinator and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (SCBD) as a facilitator between local, sub-national and national governments. Partners include local and sub-national governments, ministries, international organisations, non-governmental organisations, research institutions and individuals. In addition to ICLEI, SCBD and SRC, the signatories include Cornell University, the United Nations University (UNU), the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation as well as a number of founding cities. More recently, The New School of New York has become an active URBIS partner and several cities including Jerusalem, Sao Paulo, Montreal and Stockholm, have taken a leading role in developing and promoting the initiative.

What binds URBIS partners?

All are concerned with the loss of biodiversity, the plight of natural capital and the degradation of ecosystem services that underpin human wellbeing; all share a common recognition of the pivotal role that cities play in the pursuit of a greener, safer and more prosperous future; and all are committed to paving pathways to that future through the collaborative design and implementation of participatory, integrated and sustainable urban development solutions, diverging from historical extractive approaches that undervalue ecosystem goods and services.

What do URBIS partners do?

The URBIS initiative enables partners to address the challenges and opportunities entailed with governing and managing urban biospheres, in a concerted, synergistic manner. It connects acclaimed scientific researchers, foresighted policy-makers, visionary planners and environmental practitioners from across the world. It transcends the science-policy interface; accelerates the exchange of knowledge, ideas, and good practices; galvanises collaborative action; and ultimately forges harmony between cities and the ecosystems of which they are part. The URBIS initiative comprises several components:

i. Learning Community.

An online resource hub provides access to guidelines, publications, and tools, as well as case studies and research papers prepared by the URBIS partners. A dedicated newsletter showcasing partners’ achievements is issued on a biannual basis.

ii. URBIS Dialogues.

The partners meet periodically at international conferences, dedicated workshops and in webinars. At these gatherings, known as the URBIS Dialogues, partners share experiences, address specific urban challenges, consider new developments, explore collaborative opportunities and strategise on ways forward, with a special focus on city-regions. URBIS Dialogues are facilitated in a highly interactive and participatory manner conducive to constructive discourse and candid debate. Activities undertaken include long-term visioning exercises, ecosystem service mapping and appraisal, needs assessments, strategic regional planning, and the development of demand-driven project proposals. The URBIS Dialogues also present an opportunity for cities to engage in the CBD, in coordination with their national governments.

iii. Recognition Process.

The international partners of URBIS will formally recognise and promote the achievements of local and sub-national governments that follow a stepwise procedure entailing participatory, inclusive and comprehensive approaches to planning for urban sustainability. The recognition process is designed to: consolidate political commitment to sustainable development and in particular, the ecosystem approach to planning; improve understanding of local ecosystems through assessment and ongoing monitoring and evaluation; and essentially enhance the governance and management of cities as urban biospheres. Through this process, good practices will be developed and catalogued for sharing amongst the learning community. The process can also support the establishment and maintenance of Biosphere Reserves under the auspices of the UNESCO Man and Biosphere (MAB) Programme.

iv. Aperture to Excellence.

The URBIS initiative is a gateway to numerous other programmes, projects and networks to which ambitious partners can additionally subscribe. These include ICLEI’s flagship biodiversity initiative, Local Action for Biodiversity (LAB) Pioneer Project, which elevates local governments to become international leaders in the field of biodiversity and ecosystem management. The initiative also facilitates access and contributions to groundbreaking research undertaken by leading universities.


  Want to join? 

The principle of inclusiveness is embedded in the URBIS initiative and all actors interested in the governance and management of cities as urban biospheres are invited to participate. Local and sub-national governments are especially welcome. To become an URBIS partner, applicants must undertake to:

i. Submit at least one case study demonstrating good practice in the urban biosphere;

ii. Endeavour to participate in, and provide technical contributions to, the periodic URBIS Dialogues; and

iii. Consent to being profiled on the dedicated URBIS website.

Join HERE!

 

URBIS Map

URBIS Map

Abu Dhabi
AMA Pangea Brazil
Bergrivier Municipality
Brussels Capital Region
Cape Winelands District Municipality, South Africa
City of Amsterdam
City of Aukland, New Zealand
City of Barcelona, Spain
City of Bonn, Germany
City of Cape Town, South Africa
City of Cascais, Portugal
City of Curitiba
City of Edmonton, Canada
City of Helsingborg, Sweden
City of Jerusalem, Israel
City of Johannesburg
City of Joondalup, Australia
City of Leicester
City of Liverpool, Australia
City of Manaus, Brazil
City of Mandurah, Australia
City of Montreal, Canada
City of Nagoya, Japan
City of Nioro du Rip, Senegal
City of São Paulo, Brazil
City of Tilburg, Netherlands
City of Tshwane, South Africa
City of Waitakere, New Zealand
City of Zagreb
Cornell University
Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
Dutch Research Institute For Transitions
Ekurhuleni Municipality, South Africa
eThekwini Municipality (Durban), South Africa
Fortaleza, Brazil
Grande-Synthe, France
Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, India
Île de France
Instituto Sustentar, Belo Horizonte, Brazil
International Political Science Association
Inverde (Research Institute for Green Infrastructure and Urban Ecology), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Kaohsiung, Taiwan
King County, Washington
Lake Victoria Regional Local Authorities Cooperation (Entebbe), Uganda
Lilongwe City, Malawi
Mexico City
Montpellier, France
Nelson Mandela Municipality, South Africa
New York Sea Grant, USA
Petaling Jaya City Council, Malaysia
Seoul Metropolitan Government, South Korea
Sol Plaatje Municipality, South Africa
Swedish Society for Nature Conservation, Stockholm, Sweden
The City of Calgary
The Nature of Cities, Sound Science LLC, New York, USA
Tishman Environment & Design Center, The New School, NY
University of Tunku Abdhul Rahman, Malaysia
Vacoas Phoenix, Mauritius
Walvis Bay, Namibia
Windhoek, Namibia
Xtremas.Org, Costa Rica
Abu Dhabi Case Study- Mangroves in the City
Case Study: Assessing the natural assets of Cape Town, South Africa
City of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
City of Barcelona Case Study 1- School Agenda 21
City of Barcelona Case Study 2- Planning for a green urban corridor
City of Barcelona Case Study 3- Protecting urban birds
City of Bonn Case Study 1-Meadow Programme
City of Bonn Case Study 2- Stadtwald municipal forest
City of Curitiba, Case Study 2- Reintroduction of ornamental indigenous plant species
City of Curitiba, Cast Study 1- BioCity Programe
City of Edmonton, Case Study-Edmonton's ecological network
City of eThekwini, Durban, South Africa
City of Joondalup's Public Participation Policy
Combating invasive alien species in Dublin's waterways
Edmonton, Canada - Valuing Trees in Edmonton, Canada
eThekwini, Case Study 2- Economic value of Durban’s biodiversity
eThekwkini, Case Study 1- Durban Metropolitan Open Space System
Inverde Case Study- Mainstreaming Urban Nature in Rio
Manaus Case Study 1- Saium-Castanheiras Wildlife Refuge
Manaus Case Study 2- Urban afforestation
New Place
The Green Wedges of Greater Stockholm
uKhahlamba Drakensberg Park, South Africa
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What does this map do?

This interactive map is designed to allow you to search for biodiversity case studies from around the world by,

  1. Local government;
  2. Specific project;
  3. Ecosystem service; or
  4. Aichi Target.

Your search results will become highlighted dots on the map. Each variable you choose will narrow your search for a particular case study.

What are the icons in the top blue bar?

These are the symbols for Aichi Targets and for ecosystem services as taken from The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity. You will find detailed explanations of each TEEB ecosystem service and Aichi Target by clicking the 'Key' on the right hand panel of the map. To return to the map, click the 'Go back' button.

How do I search for a particular case study

- To search for a particular case study or set of case studies, by Aichi Target or ecosystem service, simply click on the symbol ( or multiple symbols) in the top bar of the map. You will notice that the Aichi Targets or ecosystem services that you click on become displayed on the left hand panel. You can remove these searches by clicking on the small x. Each symbol you click will narrow your search.

- If you are looking for case studies from a particular project (i.e. LAB), then simply click on the particular project you are looking for under the Projects title.

Note: You can also have multiple layered searches for very particular case studies by clicking on the particular elements you are searching for.

E.g. You are looking for an URBIS case studies that deals with the ecosystem service of carbon sequestration and addresses Aichi Target 3.

  1. Click on the Carbon TEEB icon in the top blue bar
  2. Click on URBIS project under URBIS
  3. Click on Aichi Target 3

You will see the relevant case study appear: e.g. Saium-Castanheiras Wildlife Refuge

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Aesthetic

Language, knowledge and the natural environment have been intimately related throughout human history. Biodiversity, ecosystems and natural landscapes have been the source of inspiration for much of our art, culture and increasingly for science.

Biocontrol

Ecosystems are important for regulating pests and vector borne diseases that attack plants, animals and people. Ecosystems regulate pests and diseases through the activities of predators and parasites. Birds, bats, flies, wasps, frogs and fungi all act as natural controls.

Carbon

Ecosystems regulate the global climate by storing and sequestering greenhouse gases. As trees and plants grow, they remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and effectively lock it away in their tissues. In this way forest ecosystems are carbon stores. Biodiversity also plays an important role by improving the capacity of ecosystems to adapt to the effects of climate change.

Climate

Trees provide shade whilst forests influence rainfall and water availability both locally and regionally. Trees or other plants also play an important role in regulating air quality by removing pollutants from the atmosphere.

Erosion

Soil erosion is a key factor in the process of land degradation and desertification. Vegetation cover provides a vital regulating service by preventing soil erosion. Soil fertility is essential for plant growth and agriculture and well functioning ecosystems supply the soil with nutrients required to support plant growth.

Food

Ecosystems provide the conditions for growing food. Food comes principally from managed agro-ecosystems but marine and freshwater systems or forests also provide food for human consumption. Wild foods from forests are often underestimated.

Fresh Water

Ecosystems play a vital role in the global hydrological cycle, as they regulate the flow and purification of water. Vegetation and forests influence the quantity of water available locally.

Genetic

Genetic diversity is the variety of genes between and within species populations. Genetic diversity distinguishes different breeds or races from each other thus providing the basis for locally well-adapted cultivars and a gene pool for further developing commercial crops and livestock. Some habitats have an exceptionally high number of species which makes them more genetically diverse than others and are known as ?biodiversity hotspots?.

Habitat

Habitats provide everything that an individual plant or animal needs to survive: food; water; and shelter. Each ecosystem provides different habitats that can be essential for a species? lifecycle. Migratory species including birds, fish, mammals and insects all depend upon different ecosystems during their movements.

Material

Ecosystems provide a great diversity of materials for construction and fuel including wood, biofuels and plant oils that are directly derived from wild and cultivated plant species.

Medicinal

Ecosystems and biodiversity provide many plants used as traditional medicines as well as providing the raw materials for the pharmaceutical industry. All ecosystems are a potential source of medicinal resources.

Moderation

Extreme weather events or natural hazards include floods, storms, tsunamis, avalanches and landslides. Ecosystems and living organisms create buffers against natural disasters, thereby preventing possible damage. For example, wetlands can soak up flood water whilst trees can stabilize slopes. Coral reefs and mangroves help protect coastlines from storm damage.

Pollination

Insects and wind pollinate plants and trees which is essential for the development of fruits, vegetables and seeds. Animal pollination is an ecosystem service mainly provided by insects but also by some birds and bats. Some 87 out of the 115 leading global food crops depend upon animal pollination including important cash crops such as cocoa and coffee (Klein et al. 2007).

Recreation

Walking and playing sports in green space is not only a good form of physical exercise but also lets people relax. The role that green space plays in maintaining mental and physical health is increasingly being recognized, despite difficulties of measurement.

Spiritual

In many parts of the world natural features such as specific forests, caves or mountains are considered sacred or have a religious meaning. Nature is a common element of all major religions and traditional knowledge, and associated customs are important for creating a sense of belonging.

Tourism

Ecosystems and biodiversity play an important role for many kinds of tourism which in turn provides considerable economic benefits and is a vital source of income for many countries. In 2008 global earnings from tourism summed up to US$ 944 billion. Cultural and eco-tourism can also educate people about the importance of biological diversity.

Water Purification

Ecosystems such as wetlands filter both human and animal waste and act as a natural buffer to the surrounding environment. Through the biological activity of microorganisms in the soil, most waste is broken down. Thereby pathogens (disease causing microbes) are eliminated, and the level of nutrients and pollution is reduced.

Icons designed by Jan Sasse for TEEB
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Target 1

By 2020, at the latest, people are aware of the values of biodiversity and the steps they can take to conserve and use it sustainably.

Target 2

By 2020, at the latest, biodiversity values have been integrated into national and local development and poverty reduction strategies and planning processes and are being incorporated into national accounting, as appropriate, and reporting systems.

Target 3

By 2020, at the latest, incentives, including subsidies, harmful to biodiversity are eliminated, phased out or reformed in order to minimize or avoid negative impacts, and positive incentives for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity are developed and applied, consistent and in harmony with the Convention and other relevant international obligations, taking into account national socio economic conditions.

Target 4

By 2020, at the latest, Governments, business and stakeholders at all levels have taken steps to achieve or have implemented plans for sustainable production and consumption and have kept the impacts of use of natural resources well within safe ecological limits.

Target 5

By 2020, the rate of loss of all natural habitats, including forests, is at least halved and where feasible brought close to zero, and degradation and fragmentation is significantly reduced.

Target 6

By 2020 all fish and invertebrate stocks and aquatic plants are managed and harvested sustainably, legally and applying ecosystem based approaches, so that overfishing is avoided, recovery plans and measures are in place for all depleted species, fisheries have no significant adverse impacts on threatened species and vulnerable ecosystems and the impacts of fisheries on stocks, species and ecosystems are within safe ecological limits.

Target 7

By 2020 areas under agriculture, aquaculture and forestry are managed sustainably, ensuring conservation of biodiversity.

Target 8

By 2020, pollution, including from excess nutrients, has been brought to levels that are not detrimental to ecosystem function and biodiversity.

Target 9

By 2020, invasive alien species and pathways are identified and prioritized, priority species are controlled or eradicated, and measures are in place to manage pathways to prevent their introduction and establishment.

Target 10

By 2015, the multiple anthropogenic pressures on coral reefs, and other vulnerable ecosystems impacted by climate change or ocean acidification are minimized, so as to maintain their integrity and functioning.

Target 11

By 2020, at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water, and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, are conserved through effectively and equitably managed, ecologically representative and well connected systems of protected areas and other effective area-based conservation measures, and integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes.

Target 12

By 2020 the extinction of known threatened species has been prevented and their conservation status, particularly of those most in decline, has been improved and sustained.

Target 13

By 2020, the genetic diversity of cultivated plants and farmed and domesticated animals and of wild relatives, including other socio-economically as well as culturally valuable species, is maintained, and strategies have been developed and implemented for minimizing genetic erosion and safeguarding their genetic diversity.

Target 14

By 2020, ecosystems that provide essential services, including services related to water, and contribute to health, livelihoods and well-being, are restored and safeguarded, taking into account the needs of women, indigenous and local communities, and the poor and vulnerable.

Target 15

By 2020, ecosystem resilience and the contribution of biodiversity to carbon stocks has been enhanced, through conservation and restoration, including restoration of at least 15 per cent of degraded ecosystems, thereby contributing to climate change mitigation and adaptation and to combating desertification.

Target 16

By 2015, the Nagoya Protocol on Access to Genetic Resources and the Fair and Equitable Sharing of Benefits Arising from their Utilization is in force and operational, consistent with national legislation.

Target 17

By 2015 each Party has developed, adopted as a policy instrument, and has commenced implementing an effective, participatory and updated national biodiversity strategy and action plan.

Target 18

By 2020, the traditional knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities relevant for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, and their customary use of biological resources, are respected, subject to national legislation and relevant international obligations, and fully integrated and reflected in the implementation of the Convention with the full and effective participation of indigenous and local communities, at all relevant levels.

Target 19

By 2020, knowledge, the science base and technologies relating to biodiversity, its values, functioning, status and trends, and the consequences of its loss, are improved, widely shared and transferred, and applied.

Target 20

By 2020, at the latest, the mobilization of financial resources for effectively implementing the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 from all sources, and in accordance with the consolidated and agreed process in the Strategy for Resource Mobilization, should increase substantially from the current levels. This target will be subject to changes contingent to resource needs assessments to be developed and reported by Parties.

AICHI Target Icons Copyright BIP/SCBD
Case Studies from around the world
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Erosion
Food
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Target 1
Target 2
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