Cities house the majority of people living on the planet today, and consume around 75% of natural resources. The UN predicts that by 2050 80% of the global population will live in urban areas, meaning that cities have a huge role to play in preserving the planet’s finite resources and providing services for people. If we are to reverse current environmental trends and embrace greater custodianship of nature, we must first LEARN about what we can do; SHARE that knowledge with our citizens on World Environment Day, and ACT on the things we need to change.
HOW CAN CITIES4FORESTS HELP?
Cities4Forests can help cities around the world to connect with and invest in inner forests (such as city trees and urban parks), nearby forests (such as green corridors and watersheds) and faraway forests (such as tropical and boreal forests). We encourage our cities to better conserve, manage, and restore these forests by providing technical assistance to align local policy, facilitating peer-to-peer learning, and supporting communication activities to help cities take climate action together. For more information, see Cities4Forests FAQs.
What cities can do:
- These UNEP Guidelines explore ways to harness climate and resource potential for health and well-being at the neighbourhood level.
- This UNEP report examines how cities can become sustainable and resource-efficient as urban populations grow.
- The UNEP GEO Cities Report provides local governments, scientists, policy-makers, and the general public with reliable and up-to-date information on improving urban environmental planning and management.
- This UNEP report shows how local governments and decision-makers can help improve the state of the global environment.
- The Cities and Biodiversity Outlook summarizes how urbanization affects biodiversity and examines 10 ways cities can strengthen conservation and use natural resources more sustainably.
- Consult these resources to learn how to protect the land from degradation (Report | Toolbox).
- The UN-Habitat Guidelines look at how to balance territorial development by enhancing urban-rural linkages.
- Cities4Forests helps cities to better connect, conserve, manage, and restore the forests around them.
- CitiesWithNature, an initiative hosted by ICLEI, IUCN and The Nature Conservancy, is a shared platform for cities and their partners to engage and connect.
- The Nature of Cities initiative curates conversations about urban solutions to environmental challenges.
How cities can share the message on World Environment Day:
- Participate in the global photo contest #ForestChallenge! The #ForestChallenge aims to raise awareness of the connection between people and nature, encouraging participants to share their favourite memories of time spent in forests, while contributing to a tree-planting project in Indonesia.
- Sign up to the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group.
- Announce a new “green area” to be created in your city.
- Use social media to highlight your city’s native biodiversity and species in danger of being lost unless measures are taken.
- Send citizens native plant seeds on World Environment Day that they can plant on their balconies or in their gardens to encourage biodiversity.
- Join the Climate and Clean Air Coalition.
- Join the Cool Coalition.
- Have your mayor host a virtual conversation with citizens about the environment in the city.
- Announce new targets related to nature and biodiversity.
How cities can act for nature:
- Adopt a “Whole-of-Government” approach, allowing a comprehensive vision towards sustainable urban development.
- Include nature-based solutions as part of your city’s climate strategy.
- Develop combined transport and ecosystem corridors, naturally shading pedestrians and cyclists while connecting vital green spaces in and around the city.
- Set targets to protect and create green spaces in the city, and introduce innovative policies such creating green spaces equivalent to the space eaten up by real estate development.
- Consider making living roofs and solar panels mandatory requirements in the specifications for tendering of affordable housing.
- Create urban gardening opportunities for communities.
- Produce a sustainable development report to be updated regularly.
Join Cities4Forests! We encourage our member cities to better conserve, manage, and restore their forests by providing technical assistance to align local policy, facilitating peer-to-peer learning, and carrying out communication activities to help cities take climate action together.
- Enlist urban planners to identify how more trees can be planted in residential neighbourhoods and close to schools and hospitals.
- If native watersheds have been damaged due to urban expansion, enlist planners to analyze whether they can be restored.
- Allocate funds for biodiversity restoration in your annual budget.
- In collaboration with scientists, identify activities to protect or restore your city’s ecosystems.
WHAT CAN INDIVIDUALS DO?
Each one of us has a role to play in ending biodiversity loss and preserving nature for human well-being. As individuals, we must rethink what we buy and use, and become conscious consumers. If we are to change our current course of destruction to one of custodianship of nature, we must first LEARN about what we can do; SHARE that knowledge with our family and friends on World Environment Day and beyond; and ACT on the things we need to change.
Join the #ForestChallenge - The photo contest to connect people and forests in cities:
CITIES4FORESTS has launched the Forest Challenge, a global photo contest. Join today and we will plant 1 tree for every photo!
Post a public photo on Instagram or Facebook of time spent in nature with friends, family, or colleagues, use the hashtag #ForestChallenge, and tag @cities4forests! You can also submit privately via our online form. Join the photo contest, reconnect with nature, and help us plant 2,000 trees in Indonesia! For more information click here.
LEARN how you can protect nature:
- Find out what your city and national government is doing to protect the environment.
- Join Earth School and take part in the 30 lessons on the environment hosted by TED-Ed and curated by some of the best nature teachers in the world.
- Learn about how you can help face climate change through the United Nations’ Act Now campaign.
- Learn about plastic pollution and how it affects marine species through UNEP’s Clean Seas campaign.
- Find out about the endangered species that are trafficked in the illegal wildlife trade.
- Look into the Anatomy of Action, which maps out actions individuals can take to reduce their carbon footprint.
- Sign-up to iNaturalist, an online community of naturalists, where you can record your observations of plants and animals, meet other nature-lovers, and explore the natural world.
- Learn about the emissions-gap left for countries to limit global temperatures to 1.5°C.
- The Nature Conservancy is a global non-profit working to create a world where people and nature can thrive.
- Read these reports on land use, land rights, and related impacts on the environment. (Global Land Outlook | Land Degradation Neutrality | Science Policy Interface )
- Learn more about the International Plant Protection Convention here, see this guide for tips on how to communicate about this topic, and use this resource for social media assets.
- Find out if your cosmetic products contain harmful microbeads through the Beat the Microbead app.
- IUCN’s #NatureforAll Discovery Zone offers a range of creative tools – from videos to lesson plans and comic books – to help you learn about nature.
How you can SHARE the message on World Environment Day:
- Head to UNEP’s social media feeds from 28 May-5 June and share with the world why action for nature is so important. Be sure to use the hashtags #ForNature and #WorldEnvironmentDay.
- Tag a couple of people/organizations/companies in your reply and ask them to join the conversation!
- Be accurate in the information you share by ensuring you use reputable sources to counter misinformation.
How you can ACT for nature:
- Adapt your diet to include more environmentally friendly foods, especially your primary protein sources.
- Travel less – limit your travel after the COVID19 lockdown.
- If you have a garden or balcony, leave some wild green areas where pollinators and ground-dwelling insects can thrive.
- Let your city and national governments know that they must meet environmental targets they’ve committed to.
- Avoid buying single-use plastics. Plastic waste that ends up in nature is often mistaken for food by animals both on land and at sea. For many species, it can cause severe injury or death.
- Recycle as much as you can.
- Plant an urban garden on your balcony or backyard, or get involved in a community urban-garden with native flowering plants.
- Minimize the use of household chemicals that can have toxic effects on soil and groundwater. Instead, experiment with natural products such as vinegar, baking soda and plain natural soap and water.
- Create a compost heap in your garden or windowsill and grow some of your own produce with it.
- Try to buy local products and food.