London recently became the world’s first National Park City and launched the NPC Universal Charter. ICLEI and CitiesWithNature endorsed this vital step to creating stronger human-nature connections in cities and welcomes London as it proceeds to join CitiesWithNature.

London mayor signs: Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, signs the National Park City Charter at the launch event in London.

Kobie Brand speech: Kobie Brand, Global Director of ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center, delivers her endorsement at the launch event.

On 22 July 2019 London became the world’s first National Park City (NPC) when it launched the London National Park City Charter.

“A greener future is central to my vision for London and I’m proud we’re officially the world’s first National Park City,” said London Mayor, Sadiq Kahn.

All individuals and cities can become part of this movement toward a better life in our cities by signing the NPC Universal Charter, which was launched on the day preceding the event.

ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center (CBC) Global Director, Kobie Brand, gave some words of endorsement at the launch, on behalf of both ICLEI and the growing CitiesWithNature Partnership Initiative, both of which are partners of the NPC Foundation. In support of the initiative, CitiesWithNature showcases the Universal Charter to its growing community of practice as one of the ways we can collectively build CitiesWithNature, and encourages everyone, everywhere, to take action – no matter how small – toward this vision.

“As we fast approach the year 2020, arguably the most critical moment in the history of our planet where the global ‘New deal for Nature’ will be negotiated, cities are at the forefront of the action needed to see better connections between people and nature. And today, London is showing us that cities are ready to stand up. To stand FOR and WITH nature.”
– Kobie Brand, Global Director: ICLEI Cities Biodiversity Center

Playing outside: The launch of London as a National Park City coincided with the city’s National Park City Festival.

As cities continue to grow and our natural environment continues to diminish at alarming rates, the time is now to unite under a common vision in order to transform our cities into CitiesWithNature – healthier, greener places to live in harmony with nature. The Universal Charter for National Park Cities can help to bring this about, showing how collective local action can have global impact.

“A National Park City is a place, a vision and a city-wide community that is acting together to make life better for people, wildlife and nature,” reads the Charter. “It is a timely cultural choice, a commitment to a sense of place and a way of life that sustains people and nature in cities and beyond.”

Daniel Raven-Ellison, who started the campaign to make London a National Park City six years ago, said:
“London becoming a National Park City is something for us all to be proud of. Inspired by the aims and values of our precious rural national parks, the London National Park City is fundamentally about making life better.”

The Universal Charter was developed and refined at the Salzburg Global Seminar Parks for the Planet Forum in May 2019, which both Ingrid Coetzee and Timothy Blatch from ICLEI’s Cities Biodiversity Center attended, and provided input on.

By signing the Universal Charter, anyone, who wants to see cities become places where time outdoors, health, locally grown food, culture and playing are respected and improved, can declare that we collectively share this ambitious vision of co-creating CitiesWithNature.

London NPC map: The London National Park City official map guides city dwellers in finding its green treasures.

London to become pioneer CitiesWithNature city

The occasion of the NPC launch was made even more momentous by the announcement by Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, that London is in the process of joining the ground-breaking CitiesWithNature partnership initiative, founded by ICLEI, The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). London will join CitiesWithNature as a pioneer city, and the NPC is a key initiative characterizing this movement. A rapidly growing community of practice, CitiesWithNature provides a platform for cities to connect, share, learn, act and inspire each other around urban nature.

“We [as CitiesWithNature] seek to grow and nurture a network of cities, individuals, practitioners and researchers who are committed to planning, working and living with nature – in our Urban Century,” said Kobie Brand in her endorsement speech. “We encourage all cities, communities, leaders and individuals to join CitiesWithNature and be a part of this growing movement for global change.”

More than 70 cities from around the world have already joined the Registry. The Community Hub, where everyone can share experiences, photos, video clips and stories about nature in cities, will launch soon. CitiesWithNature is the ‘big tent’ providing a platform for other cities and individuals to sign the Charter and collectively support the NPC vision as one of the ways in which collective local action is able to contribute to global change.

“We hope to see many other cities embarking on the journey to become CitiesWithNature, and we are thrilled to endorse the National Park City Universal Charter as one of the tools that has the potential to see this global vision realized.”
– Timothy Blatch, CitiesWithNature Program Coordinator

A diverse array of Londoners attended this launch event, which ignited new enthusiasm for collective action to embrace nature in our everyday lives. Daniel Raven-Ellison reiterated the call to action when he said “It’s my hope that what the London National Park City will do, is it will excite and inspire people into taking actions in their lives for making our cities greener, healthier and wilder.”

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