Cities are at the frontlines of many of the challenges facing our world, and often bear the brunt of the impacts of climate change, pandemics, natural disasters, pollution and the loss of biodiversity. While urban areas occupy less than 1 % of the Earth’s land surface, more than 50% of the world’s population now live in cities. According to scientists, urbanization and high densities affect spatial patterns of land use and one of the key indirect drivers of biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation.  Currently we build the equivalent of ‘one Paris per week’ in new structures globally to meet our infrastructure needs. While cities can be hotspots of vulnerability, they are also hubs of innovation, solutions and creativity, in part due to the concentration and diversity of institutions of learning, science and technology, businesses and entrepreneurs, citizen organizations and NGOs based in cities. The Global Biodiversity Outlook 5 identifies sustainable cities and infrastructure as being one of the key transitions to living in harmony with nature.
In his State of the Planet address, Antonio Guterres he warned that “Humanity is waging war on nature. This is suicidal. Nature always strikes back – and it is already doing so with growing force and fury. Biodiversity is collapsing. One million species are at risk of extinction. Ecosystems are disappearing before our eyes … Human activities are at the root of our descent toward chaos. But that means human action can help to solve it.” With this landmark speech he said that “making peace with nature” is the “defining task of the 21st century.
Responding to this urgent call to make ‘peace with nature’ and to contribute to the global movement to ‘heal our planet’, ICLEI, as one of the global partners of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, is inviting cities and regions to tell the world what they are doing to prevent, halt and reverse ecosystem degradation within cities, landscapes and across urban-rural linkages. The purpose of gathering and sharing the stories about solutions and practices applied in the cities and regions, is to encourage scaling out of local and regional actions across the world; and to provide tangible evidence of the impact of such actions on restoring nature, human wellbeing and the health of our planet. We are looking for stories and examples involving a wide range and scale of ecosystem restoration projects, from greening public spaces, to green and/or blue infrastructure, urban farming, urban forestry, the restoration and/or creation of specific ecosystems, and more; including projects that focus on advance issues of justice, equity, gender, access (for example to natural resources /green spaces), livelihoods and job creation, awareness raising and education, consumption and production, creativity, health and well-being etc. These stories will be published in a ‘virtual storybook’ that will be shared on platforms such as the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration website, Action Agenda for Nature and People and CitiesWIthNature and RegionsWithNature. ICLEI further plans to recognize the efforts of cities and regions through an award system and will make an announcement on the award system later this year.
This call, which is being launched at the onset of the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration, will be made regularly throughout the Decade, to maintain momentum and scale out local and regional actions and initiatives.
Register your interest in submitting your city’s inspiring story and we’ll get in touch once the call is open!
 Inger Andersen – Sustainable Infrastructure supporting the SDGs, 7 April 2020 – https://www.eci.ox.ac.uk/news/2020/0407-ECI-UN-sustainable-infrastructure.html
 Delivered virtually at Colombia University on 2 December 2020