The Davos Agenda, the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting to address the most pressing global challenges, took place over the last week. There, the BiodiverCities by 2030: Transforming Cities’ Relationship with Nature report was first released on Monday (17.01.2021).
BiodiverCities by 2030(1) is an initiative of the World Economic Forum and the Alexander von Humboldt Biological Resources Research Institute with the Government of Colombia. Together, the organizations gathered a large group of world-renowned experts and professionals from many sectors to use the latest research to improve and have a more inclusive nature-positive urban development. Although there has always been a dichotomy between cities and nature, it is now time to understand and apply nature-positive technologies to urban environments. World statistics show that, by 2030, 60% of the global population will be living in cities (2; 3). The consequences of increasing rural exodus can be positive and negative, ranging from improving lives to exacerbating inequalities and nature degradation. As the world still deals with the COVID-19 pandemic, and the triple planetary crisis of pollution, biodiversity loss, and climate change, it has become increasingly clear how unsustainable our ways of urbanization have been.
In this context, the BiodiverCities by 2030 report states that we must rethink and restructure our cities in a way that rescues nature’s value by bringing harmony and synergy to this dichotomy, and ensuring conservation, sustainability, and health as well as scientific and economic development. In fact, the report finds that investing in nature-based solutions could generate over 59 million jobs in cities around the world and achieve more than $1.5 trillion in annual business value by 2030. One of their key-findings was that the adoption of nature-based solutions is an opportunity that will lead to more resilient and competitive cities.
The report is structured in three main chapters. The first addresses cities’ relationship with nature, covering how the fast expansion of the urban environment has proven to be destructive for the natural environment. They also discuss the importance of cities for the global GDP and how cities’ impact on nature can also be a critical economic problem, before concluding with a brighter perspective of how the cities of tomorrow can bring healing through nature-positive infrastructure alternatives for urban development. The second covers the economic case for BiodiverCities, advocating further for nature-based urban transformation, showing examples of investment and job opportunities by sector, and how their relevance differs by region. And the third chapter discusses three fundamental systemic shifts towards a nature-positive urban development: urban governance, spatial (re)integration, and investment mobilization. In the end, they conclude with a call for multistakeholder action.
To bring nature forward, respect it, and live in harmony with it should be at the core of our lives and our cities. There, it can only have benefits and growth for the planet, for us, and for future generations. BiodiverCities by 2030 is an incredible initiative with ties to SDG11. Hopefully their message will spread to many nations, improving people’s health and the economy while recognizing planetary boundaries.
The BiodiverCities by 2030 report can be found clicking here. Something to note is that GCE Alumna María Mejía was involved with the BiodiverCities by 2030 Initiative at the National Research Institute of Biodiversity of Colombia. You can read her GCE Alumni interview here.