Conferences, discussions and meetings with biologists, ecologists, architects, philosophers and sociologists … from 20 to 22 May in Rouen, Union Beoji The city of Rouen organizes “Naturally!” days. With one goal this first year: to explain and understand the importance of nature in the city.
Humans have dominated planet Earth for many centuries, without realizing that nature remains the mirror of the life expectancy of their existence. The IPCC reports follow and are similar to each other. The last of them, published on April 4, continues to alert us to the point of no return that humanity is about to cross. The fight for the climate appears to be the battle of the century, but it is closely related to nature. Climate, biodiversity, human societies and health, these concepts are all interconnected, and we will not solve the climate crisis without protecting our life space and nature.
The COVID-19 pandemic is revealing the consequences of biodiversity disruption on our health. Each of our simplest gestures can have very serious consequences for humanity. In cities, environmental awareness has turned into a daily struggle, observable from the smallest gestures, through the education of children, to the development of our urban planning documents. More than ever, let us celebrate nature for what it brings us, but above all for what it embodies: destroying its fragile ecosystem means harming quality of life and human health. Bringing nature back into our urban spaces is a priority.
Compatible with city and biodiversity
The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, published in 2005, highlighted the consequences of ecosystem change on human well-being and emphasized the intrinsic value of the nature that surrounds us. Ecosystem services in nature are manifold and cross-sectional. A great deal of research demonstrates that urban gardens can improve environmental quality (air pollution, heat regulation, noise reduction), enhance physical activity, enhance interaction and social cohesion, contribute to a better perception of security, and provide opportunities for spiritual well-being. City and biodiversity are more compatible than ever before, and must be conceived simultaneously.
The IPBES (Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) has developed a new conceptual framework that proposes an innovative and integrated approach to ecosystem services: “nature for nature”, “nature for culture” and “nature for society”.
At the city level, the application of nature-based solutions must be understood, and the actions defined since 2016 by the International Union for Conservation of Nature that “Depending on ecosystems to meet the challenges that global changes pose to our societies, such as combating climate change, managing natural hazards, health, water supply, and food security.”
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) repeats it every time its reports are published: 70% of mitigation and adaptation measures are supposed to be Implemented at the subnational level. French cities are responsible for 67% of greenhouse gas emissions, according to a 2018 report by the World Wide Fund for Nature. So if nature allows us to mitigate these troubling effects for the future of humanity, then efficiency, innovation and direct access to field knowledge and necessary resources (material, technical and human). ) Cities make the premium level re-nature. Being that citizens are the main actors of a just, supportive and inclusive transition, the proximity to municipal institutions once again underscores this need to develop “nature in the city”, a concept frequently used by the political class, but in fact so important that its meaning should not be underestimated.
To green the building, for example, it is necessary to make the residents the main actors in changing their place of life. As beneficiaries, only they are in a position to understand the benefits that such and such a project would bring thanks to participatory care and gardens, tree-planting proposal programmes, environmental education activities in partnership with local associations and schools…initiatives that demonstrate the interdisciplinary nature of nature-based solutions.
However, nature-based solutions lack investment on a global scale. By 2030, investments in nature must triple to effectively contribute to combating biodiversity decline, according to the United Nations.
We must redouble these efforts. Cities, as ambassadors for nature-based solutions, play a vital role in continuing to demonstrate the positive impact that an integrated approach to reintroducing nature can have to address the interconnected challenges of our societies, of which cities are key mirrors.