Cities and Partners Gather in Chemnitz to Explore Potential Areas for Ecosystem Restoration and Climate Adaptation


Between May 11-12 over 100 participants from local governments, research institutions and other organizations gathered in Chemnitz, Germany to unlock the potential of underutilised urban areas for the implementation of nature-based solutions contributing to ecosystem restoration, climate adaptation and the ecological transition we need for the future of our planet. 


From the renaturalization of an old industrial railroad, recovering the natural banks of the river for flood protection and creating a park with accessible playground and cycle lanes, to a seed garden run by an NGO working with vulnerable populations and children, and a green roof in a restored factory complex which now functions a cultural venue and office space for multiple local business, participants were able to discover multiple local initiatives supported by the city either through direct intervention, incentives for private companies, or collaboration with civil society organizations.


The technical visits to these sites were part of the third Cities Talk Nature conference organized in the framework of the INTERLACE Horizon 2020 project. which brings together multiple research organizations, practitioners, city networks and knowledge brokers to accompany and share findings of urban ecosystem restoration processes in 6 cities (three in Europe: Chemnitz, Granollers and Krawovia Metropolia; and three in Latin America: Portoviejo, Envigado, and CBIMA).


The conference was also an opportunity to present some of the key products being developed in the project. It marked the launch of the Urban Governance Atlas, an online database showcasing more than 250 policy instruments from 41 countries supporting nature-based solutions and ecosystem restoration. Organised into four categories (legislative, regulatory and strategic instruments; economic and fiscal instruments; agreement-based or cooperative instruments; and knowledge, communication and innovation instruments), the Atlas invites policymakers, urban planners, researchers, civil society organizations, and others to explore and learn more about what made the instruments successful, key lessons from their design and implementation, and their approaches to governance.


Local governments and organizations joining the Cities Talk Nature community of practice were also invited to pitch their project, with 7 participants stepping up for the occasion. Among diverse projects from cities and institutions in Colombia, Germany, Italy, Poland, and Spain, the participants voted for Lleida’s “Nature goes back to school” project as the most inspiring. The project aims to bring back endemic nature to usually bare school patios, providing more welcoming spaces for biodiversity and environmental education opportunities for children. It is part of the city’s wider URBAN-NAT strategy for climate adaptation and biodiversity restoration, supported by a Next-Generation EU Grant.


The conference also included an insightful panel discussions with keynote speakers from the City of Chemnitz, the European Federation of Green Roof & Green Wall Associations, and the Regionalverband Ruhr (RVR) corporation, as well as interactive workshops looking at tools for ecosystem service assessment, the potential of turning parking spaces into parks, the need to for cross-sectoral collaboration to make the most out of nature-based solutions, and our own connections to and with urban nature.


Continuing until 2025, with the active engagement of FLACMA, UNGL and UCLG, the INTERLACE project and its Cities Talk Nature community will continue to provide opportunities for cities and practitioners to exchange ideas and learn from each other through webinars, in-person meetings, and city pairings.