Connecting cities and their natural area regional networks of greenspaces


URBIS Dialogue 12: Connecting cities and their natural area regional networks of greenspaces


MAY 12, 2016 4:00 PM CEST

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The benefits of protected areas for urban citizens – overcoming the “urban vs. nature” divide

Protected Areas in and around cities offer many benefits to citizens by providing vital ecosystem services,

such as supplying and storing clean water, reducing air pollution, and moderating the urban heat island

effect, fostering biodiversity and supporting the local economy with income from tourism.

Yet even though there are clear linkages between natural areas and human well-being, nature continues to

be treated as a separate entity rather than the foundation of our entire socio-economic system.

Greater collaboration between policy-makers, local communities, urban planners and other stakeholders is

needed in order to ensure the continued protection of natural areas, particularly in the face of growing

threats such as urban sprawl and pollution, for the benefit of citizens.

Investing in nature within and, particularly, beyond urban boundaries can offer a valuable economic return

for cities—a value that is often underestimated. Increasing the understanding of the benefits of healthy

natural systems and the services they provide, and subsequently integrating them into urban planning and

decision-making, can help to strengthen water, energy, and food security; can promote health and

wellbeing; can decrease disaster risk; and can reduce the impacts of climate change.

Looking into the potential of unconventional partnerships and innovative ways to connect cities and urban

dwellers to natural landscapes can provide significant benefits in their day-to- day lives. Protecting nature in

and around cities can help secure natural resources and turn our current economic challenges into

opportunities to achieve a sustainable and resilient urban future.


This webinar will give participants an opportunity to share their knowledge and experiences in relation to

the benefits of protected areas for urban areas, and will particularly focus on: 1) Showcasing how nature contributes to the well-being of urban citizens; 2) Sharing examples of successful multi-stakeholder initiatives for protected area management in and

around cities; 3) Demonstrate how to scale up the connection between healthy ecosystems and cities and to

promote economic opportunities related to the benefits of protected areas by placing the same

value in natural capital as in social and financial capital;




1.How can investing in urban parks and green infrastructure, and connecting these with surrounding

natural and protected areas, help to reduce air pollution, disaster risk and climate change impacts,

improve clean water supplies, and secure co-benefits for health?


2. What can cities and local governments do to promote cooperation across sectors, establish

intergenerational partnerships and mobilize communities for action on the ground to conserve

nature within and around cities?


3. What evidence on the economic benefits of nature for health, social cohesion, climate change,

water security and other urban challenges exists already and which gaps need to be addressed?


4. What does the business case for investment in natural solutions for urban challenges look like?


5. How can we create new alliances between public, private and community organizations for

protecting and restoring ecosystems to provide a range of services to urban citizens?


6. How to communicate the value of nature to an increasingly urban world population?


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Chantal van Ham EU Programme Manager Nature Based Solutions in the IUCN EU Representative Office, Brussels

Chantal is responsible for IUCNs activities on urban biodiversity and the cooperation with subnational governments in Europe. She develops and coordinates projects for biodiversity and ecosystems services conservation, restoration and valuation that help policy-makers, cities, local and regional governments find nature-based solutions for sustainable development, by mobilising IUCN knowledge and best practices. She represents IUCN in networks and fora at the European and global level to raise awareness of the value of nature-based solutions to improve quality of life, as well as economic prosperity. Before joining IUCN, Chantal worked as a Finance Specialist with Pricewater house Coopers in the Netherlands. She has a degree in International Business and an MSc in Forest and Nature Conservation Policy. Chantal is passionate about nature and perceives the exchange with people from different professional and cultural backgrounds as an enriching and inspiring starting point for sustainable change.

Daniel Raven-Ellison Guerrilla Geographer and Emerging Explorer

Daniel Raven-Ellison uses films, books, websites, and walks to take geography far beyond memorizing dots on a map, challenging children and adults to experience every aspect of the world around them in a more meaningful, surprising way. "The Internet makes us feel the world is becoming smaller and more available," he says, "but at the same time, many real, lived experiences are shrinking. For children, outdoor exploration improves mental and physical health, expands learning through risk taking, spurs innovative problem solving, and encourages empathy by meeting different people, yet too few children are allowed to play outdoors. As adults, although we share our cities with millions of other people, we're in many ways more disconnected than ever before, moving from the island of our home to the island of our car to the island of our office. Adventure has become something we watch on TV. In fact, there are amazing adventures to be had right outside our doors." For Raven-Ellison, the road to adventure is "guerrilla geography": daring people to challenge preconceptions about places; engage in social and environmental justice; and form deeper, more active community connections. His "Urban Earth" films demonstrate guerrilla geography in action. He created them by walking across Mumbai, Mexico City, London, and ten other U.K. and U.S. cities from one extreme edge to the other while photographing whatever lay directly in front of him every eight steps. All photos, edited together, become a film portrait of each city.

Pam Veinotte Rouge Urban National Park, Canada

Formerly responsible for Banff, Yoho, Kootenay and Fundy National Parks, as well as several national historic sites, Pam is now Rouge National Urban Park’s first Field Unit Superintendent. Throughout her Parks Canada career, Pam has demonstrated a collaborative spirit, forging numerous public, private and non-profit partnerships.

Sean Southey IUCN Commission on Education and Communication Steering Committee member and CEO of PCI Media Impact

Sean is deeply committed to community empowerment and using creative media to facilitate powerful social change. For over 25 years Sean has been in the conservation and development field. He has spent the last five years leading PCI Media Impact’s growing portfolio of Entertainment-Education programs that now spans over 35 countries. He believes his multi-sector background (twelve years with the United Nations Development Programme, five years with the Canadian government and three years working with other international non-government organizations such as ICLEI and Rare) has helped realize that everyone needs to work together for conservation. Partnerships simply work better! Sean is a dual Canadian and South African citizen and has lived, worked and travelled in over 80 countries. He holds a Masters of Science from the London School of Economics and has a Bachelors in Economics from the University of British Columbia.

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