Urban Natural Assets for Africa

ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center together with project partners SwedBio, Stockholm Resilience Center, JRS-Foundation, Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), and the African Center for Cities, are designing a cutting edge program to support the local implementation of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, to conserve and protect nature in cities in sub-Saharan Africa. This program has been enabled through generous funding from the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) through SwedBio at Stockholm Resilience Centre.

The Urban Natural Assets (UNA) for Africa program supports knowledge exchange between important stakeholders in cities across the African continent, through capacity development with regards to biodiversity and ecosystem services.This capacity building is based on a thorough needs-assessment conducted in each of the participating cities. 

The aim of this capacity building program is to contribute to meeting the objectives of sustainable use of regional biodiversity and ecosystem services, and to improved human well-being, poverty alleviation and strengthening resilience amongst the urban poor. The UNA Africa program is being run in four countries in Sub-Saharan Africa: Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; Lilongwe, Malawi; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; and Cape Town, South Africa.



UNA Africa aims to:
i) Support the exchange and co-production of knowledge through dialogues between important stakeholders in each of the participating cities (e.g. experts, local government stakeholders, urban planners, researchers and civil society organizations);
ii) Educate and provide access to a wide variety of information resources and tools adapted to the African context;
iii) Increase local information and collaboration, including through potential associated postgraduate research projects; and
iv) Provide tailor-made training in relation to biodiversity, and how ecosystem services can contribute to improving human well-being in each participating city.


UNA Africa is conducted in phases:

Phase 1: Data-gathering consultations
A focus group of representatives from the cities, including decision-makers, planners, experts and representatives from different civil society organizations, are identified and contacted.
Following this, stakeholder workshops, which ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center has considerable experience with, are held in the cities. These workshops function as needs assessment consultations, where constraints and challenges are identified.
The findings of these workshops are used to create insights into how biodiversity and ecosystem services can assist in addressing city challenges, which feeds into the second phase of the project.

Phase 2: Course modules
Supporting knowledge transfer, exchange and co-production is achieved mainly through capacity-building workshops. ICLEI Africa’s (which coordinates the ICLEI Biodiversity Center) energy, adaptation, water and food work streams contribute to integrated training content within the respective themes. Themes could centre on the food-energy-water nexus that biodiversity underpins, and the links to livelihoods and human-well-being, as well as social-development and poverty alleviation. The number and subject content of the modules is determined during the consultation phase (Phase 1) and in conjunction with partners and city practitioners. These workshops/modules are practical, with a strong awareness-raising component, and offer some easily-applied tools or first steps, which local governments who have low capacity can implement.

Phase 3: Development of case studies
Emanating from the project implementation, case studies of on-the-ground interventions applicable to the African context will, in coming years, be created and disseminated, i.e. the program may contribute to science-practice exchange.

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