Greening Cities: Biodiversity Solutions for Urban Challenges
    OverviewLondon, UKParis, FranceBerlin, Germany

    Greening Cities: Biodiversity Solutions for Urban Challenges

    In 2015, the United Nations announced Agenda 2030 with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to ensure peace and prosperity for people and the planet. Among these, SDG11 is the goal focusing on transforming cities into sustainable entities and ensure their coexistence with our ecosystems.

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    09/04/2024Of Navodi Kuruppu
    09/04/2024Of Navodi Kuruppu


    For centuries, cities have played a key role in all industries: tourism, entertainment, and so on. However, they also play a key role in the socio-environmental spectrum due to high population and anthropogenic activity. According to the UN, around 2.5 billion more people will be living in cities by 2050, meaning increasing demands on services such as housing and transportation, all of which lead to biodiversity loss. The WEF has also stated that cities are currently responsible for more than two thirds of GHG emissions. However, cities are also well equipped, with a wide range of resources to tackle the negative effects on the environment of their own activities.

    Construction site in Berlin

    London, UK

    London stands as an important city to explore within this subject. The British capital is well known for being a financial hub, but also for its diversity in wildlife and landscapes. In fact, more than 14 000 different species of plants, animals, and fungi have been recorded. The city’s renowned “Green Belt” surrounding the city is a key indicator of biodiversity’s vitality in the capital. Yet, London’s rapid growth is causing higher demand for housing and increasing prosumption levels. According to London Wildcare Trust, major green spaces like Hampstead Heath and Epping Forest are being re-developed, fragmented and degraded. To tackle this, the Mayor of London is working on a series of local initiatives. The “Local Nature Recovery Strategy” is aimed at identifying which green areas should be more accessible with the use of greening maps and tools. The plan also involves the use of the “Urban Greening Factor”, to assess the quality and quantity of urban greening in the city.

    Aerial view of London

    Paris, France

    Celebrated for its iconic landmarks like the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, Paris is also home to rich biodiversity. With 2 forests of regional importance and 14 biodiversity reserves, the French capital offers extended green spaces interconnected by ecological corridors such as the Seine, with its canals and banks, and the Foret linéaire, providing shelter to numerous species of animals and plants. However, Paris is also coping with the challenges of urbanisation, such as light pollution. A study has shown that the intensity of artificial lighting can disorient migratory birds, threaten nocturnal creatures and increase vulnerability for light-sensitive genotypes. Yet, Paris is well involved in climate mitigation acts, both internationally and locally. Last November, former Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne announced a plan to introduce €1 billion into funding biodiversity protection and restoration efforts this year, as part of a 40-part national biodiversity strategy.

    Aerial view of Paris

    Berlin, Germany

    Berlin hosts around 2500 public parks, such as the Grunewald and Karow Ponds. Collectively, these spaces constitute 40% of green and blue areas within the city’s boundaries. These areas create a connective radius across the city, forming a “green belt” like in London, providing protection against urban sprawl. Challenges to biodiversity in the German capital arise from plans to build 194 000 new buildings by 2030 to meet 27% of demand by 2020. Also, the construction of a car factory near Berlin poses a threat to nearby forests and water bodies. Various initiatives are underway to enhance biodiversity and green connectivity. Several programmes have been launched by the NBS, including “BENE”, which offers subsidies to those who improve green spaces, and “Green Moabit”, a project to adapt densely urbanised areas to climate change by setting targets for greening rooftops and transforming impermeable surfaces into green areas.

    Trams in Berlin

    Tokyo, Japan

    Shifting focus to an Asian city, Tokyo emerges as a large, urbanised city with ecosystems including urban, secondary forests, agriculture, and oceanic islands. With over 4 000 wild plants and around 51 mammal species, Japan’s capital contends with environmental issues similar to those faced by the cities previously discussed. Agricultural landscape management, pollution, and climate change are all driving the loss of biodiversity in Tokyo. In response to this, The Tokyo Metropolitan Government launched the Aichi Biodiversity Company Certification Programme in 2022. This initiative aims to certify companies in the Aichi Prefecture that have implemented successful sustainability schemes. The goal is to inspire other businesses and stakeholders to engage in biodiversity preservation efforts and play an effective role in improving the conditions of the city.

    An alleyway in Tokyo

    Sydney, Australia

    The largest city of Australia, Sydney, is highly relevant for discussing both green and water biodiversity. With over 5 million people, the city has one of the island’s most significant ports for shipping and trade. In the surrounding waters, around 580 species of fish and over 20 000 polychaetes, crustaceans, echinoderms, and molluscs have been recorded. However, Sydney’s growing population is putting pressure on these species and their maritime habitats, pushing the NSW to take proactive measures. This has taken shape in a community based participatory research, by involving workshops with NSW’s residents, including those from Sydney. The workshops involved discussions on biodiversity in the city, encompassing challenges and policies for improvement. The general consensus rested upon the various ideas: the importance of protecting local vulnerable species, strategic land use planning to promote green corridors, and programmes to enhance backyard ecology.

    Sydney harbour

    Who Has Got To Take Action?

    While cities can cause and worsen issues like biodiversity loss, water pollution, and land degradation, they also have the power to counterbalance their activities through new policies and strategies aimed at restoring green and blue spaces. However, governmental entities are not the only ones that can make a difference. As outlined in the UN 2030 Agenda, all stakeholders matter and must take action, and businesses are part of this. This is where 3Bee’s contribution to pollinating insects' protection and biodiversity conservation becomes invaluable in this arena.

    National Flags at the entrance in UN office at Geneva, Switzerland

    3Bee’s Biodiversity Action Plan

    3Bee’s technologies are designed to monitor and protect biodiversity, using honeybees as fundamental bioindicators. This follows the collection and interpretation of data through innovative proprietary systems to monitor bees’ health and pollinating insects within their ecosystems. To fulfil this, 3Bee has created a series of technologies such as Hive-Tech and Polly X. This summarised in three words: monitoring, regeneration, and dissemination. Additionally, 3Bee is leading the “Biodiversity Oases” initiative, aiming to create urban and agroforestry habitats in low biodiversity areas. The goal is to expand from 250 to 10 000 oases, to create Europe's largest ecological corridor for pollinators. Their holistic approach involves an alliance with a variety of stakeholders, from companies to researchers and academia. By driving tangible actions, 3Bee's work strongly aligns with ESG criteria for driving environmental action and contributing to the sustainable transformation of cities.

    A bee on the asteraceae of a flower
    09/04/2024Of Navodi Kuruppu
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