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The Nature of Cities Festival 2024

Promotional graphic for a skills session at The Nature of Cities Festival 2024 titled "Developing policies that work for nature and for people." The session is in-person in Berlin on 4 June 2024 at 16:00, featuring Natalia Burgos, McKenna Davis, and Ewa Iwaszuk.

© The Nature of Cities Festival 2024


The Nature of Cities Festival 2024

Ecologic's Spotlight: Greening Urban Futures

15-26 April (virtual) and 3 -7 June (Berlin)
virtual and Berlin, Germany

The Nature of Cities Festival 2024 was an extraordinary three-week hybrid event that brought together almost 400 researchers, artists, activists, and enthusiasts from around the world to celebrate the importance and beauty of urban nature. As a proud event partner, the Ecologic Institute's nature-based solutions (NbS) team led two sessions during the in-person week of the Festival, taking place in Berlin, Germany from 3 to 7 June 2024.

Developing policies that work for nature and people

On 4 June 2024, Ewa Iwaszuk, McKenna Davis, and Natalia Burgos led a dynamic session titled "Developing Policies That Work for Nature and for People". The session aimed to equip participants with the skills to develop effective policies benefiting both nature and people. It began with a presentation of the INTERLACE Urban Governance Atlas (UGA), showcasing 250 proven policy approaches and highlighting various policy instruments. The presentation emphasized the need for a holistic policy mix to support Nature-based Solutions and offered insights into good practice policy instruments that promote urban nature and societal benefits, with a focus on inclusivity.

Interaction was at the heart of the session, as participants engaged in lively discussions about various scenarios based on challenges encountered in INTERLACE cities. To spark imagination and place participants in the shoes of decision-makers, the organizers created fictional city scenarios, each presenting unique urban challenges.

Participants explored which types of policies could address these issues and used the UGA to search for solutions. These exercises emphasized the importance of designing effective policy instruments and creating comprehensive policy mixes. 

By imagining themselves as urban planners and policymakers, participants were able to think creatively and collaboratively about real-world applications and strategies for fostering nature-based solutions in diverse urban settings. 

Acting for Justice in Nature-Based Solutions

The Nature of Cities Festival 2024 was a vibrant gathering that transformed Berlin's Atelier Gardens into a hub of innovation, creativity, and environmental advocacy. Over three weeks, the festival attracted a diverse group of researchers, artists, activists, and nature enthusiasts from around the globe, all passionate about integrating nature into urban life.

One of the standout sessions, titled "Acting for Justice in Nature-Based Solutions," was led by Natalia Burgos Cuevas from the Ecologic Institute alongside Dr. Sara Maestre Andrés from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) and the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA). This session aimed to reflect on unjust co-creation processes, critical challenges, successful strategies, and lessons learned in promoting just co-creation processes to engage actors who have been traditionally marginalized or excluded.

The session kicked off with a reflection on justice and co-creation and how they can be developed within the context of NbS implementation. Key aspects of justice were highlighted, including distributional justice, which addresses how access to green, nature-based amenities is shared in society, and procedural justice, ensuring civil participation in decision-making processes. Recognitional justice was also emphasized, acknowledging the diverse needs, values, and preferences regarding green space and nature.

To engage participants practically, the session employed the Theatre of the Oppressed methodology, developed by Augusto Boal and inspired by Paulo Freire's pedagogy. This interactive performance methodology promotes social and political change by empowering participants to explore, analyze, and transform their realities through theatrical expression, emphasizing dialogue and critical consciousness.

In a creative exercise, participants prepared and performed short films depicting scenarios of injustice in NbS implementation and their potential solutions. One group represented a protest defending nature amidst tensions around new infrastructure developments, while another portrayed a meeting between various stakeholders discussing gentrification and relocation issues in a master plan. These performances sparked fun and insightful reflections, providing a powerful medium for exploring complex issues.
The session concluded with a reflective dialogue on how personal engagement can help reconnect individuals with nature. This dialogue emphasized the importance of empathy and personal connection in fostering just and inclusive nature-based solutions.

The "Acting for Justice in Nature-Based Solutions" session demonstrated the power of creativity, dialogue, and inclusive practices in addressing urban environmental challenges, showcasing how justice and NbS can go hand in hand for a more equitable future.

Nature of Cities Festival 2024: A platform for sustainable urban nature


More content from this project

15-26 April (virtual) and 3 -7 June (Berlin)
virtual and Berlin, Germany
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