Urban Natural Assets for Africa: Rivers for Life

This cutting edge project is designed to support the daily challenges that local governments in Africa experience around protecting and revitalising their urban natural assets, in particular their river systems. It aims to integrate nature-based solutions into land use planning for increased resilience.

This project is funded by Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), through SwedBio at the Stockholm Resilience Centre.

UNA Rivers low res logo
Map updated

Oval 377 Created with Sketch Beta. Project cities

Oval 377 Created with Sketch Beta. Project details

UNA Rivers aims to:

Mainstream biodiversity and nature-based solutions into land use planning and decision-making processes

Increase awareness of ecosystem services through capacity building

Mobilise project activities through alignment with international policies and processes (such as the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Biodiversity Targets and the Sustainable Development Goals)

Improve co-ordination between key stakeholders to work together towards integrating biodiversity into land use planning

Connect local communities with nature to encourage appreciation, cultural activation and enhance human well-being

Implement community-based projects along urban river systems to improve river restoration and revitalisation, and improve human well-being and livelihood creation

All project activities intent to transform the city landscape. The project aims to play a role in the process of transformation by effectively challenging dynamics that created the challenges in the first place. This project places emphasis on ensuring effective processes for sustainable change as well as on producing tangible products.

Project expansion

Due to the positive responses received from the existing UNA Rivers cities, as well as the interest shown at regional and international events where the project has been showcased, it has been the project team’s intention to seek out ways to roll out the UNA Rivers methodology to further cities and countries in Africa. In 2017, we began this process by engaging with three more cities, in two new countries. The additional cities and countries are: Kampala (Uganda) and Entebbe (Uganda).

One of the many activities under this expansion is a focus on city-to-city learning, with both existing and new UNA Rivers cities sharing lessons learnt on how to better manage urban natural assets in African cities that are urbanising rapidly.

Oval 377 Created with Sketch Beta. Case study series

Mainstreaming biodiversity into African cities land use planning

The role of bats as biodiversity indicator species in sustainable, biodiversity-friendly urban planning

More case studies to follow.

Oval 377 Created with Sketch Beta. Outputs & activities

THRIVE is a mobile application that provides step-by-step guidance on how to implement 60 nature-based solutions for the protection and sustainable use of natural assets in sub-Saharan African city regions. The solutions can be used either by an individual or a community. The guidelines are divided into 6 themes:

  • Restoring soil
  • Saving water
  • Rehabilitating green spaces
  • Producing food gardens,
  • Sustainable cooking and energy
  • Preventing disease and disaster.

Project profiling at international and national events

  • Presentation on the UNA Rivers project during a parallel conference session.
  • Two events presenting the THRIVE mobile application and the UNA Rivers project were held in the Habitat III exhibition halls.

The lessons learnt and main achievements of the UNA Rivers project were presented in a parallel sub-plenary.

  • UNA Rivers and the THRIVE mobile application was profiled at the 5th Global Biodiversity Summit of Cities & Subnational Governments, in relation to how biodiversity can be mainstreamed into city planning.
  • A presentation on UNA Rivers and introduction to the THRIVE App was given at a side event to the Global Youth Biodiversity Network.
  • Profiled UNA Rivers at the event through presentations.
  • Facilitated the attendance of project cities for city-to-city learning as well as capacity building.
  • Organised a mini workshop session in order to co-design and co-produce the Sustainable River-Based Urban Planning Guideline Document.
  • Showcased UNA Rivers through running a core session during the colloquium.
  • Engaged with the Guidance for Resilience in the Anthropocene: Investments for development (GRAID) programme to explore synergies and opportunities for UNA Rivers.
  • Showcased UNA Rivers through running a core session during the symposium.
  • Facilitated the attendance of project cities for city-to-city learning as well as capacity building
  • Showcased UNA Rivers project to better align activities with TURP.
  • UNA Rivers promoted at these two international events via appropriate printed material, session inputs and one-on-one meetings.
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