Local action moves the world! This fact has been highlighted even more in the present scenario. Rapid urbanization has led to environmental degradation across the globe. Loss of biodiversity, particularly in the urban areas has several cascading and far reaching consequences. Biodiversity provides ecosystem goods and services and also has benefits such as Flood Control, Water Security, Food Security, Improved Human Health, Pollination, Climate Change Mitigation, Pollution Abatement, Livelihood Generation and Aesthetics. There is growing evidence that links loss of biodiversity and forests to zoonotic diseases, through a complex web of interactions. The origins of several such diseases, as well as that of the greatest risks acknowledged in the current Global Risks Report, are related to environmental degradation.
ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability has been the torchbearer of spreading awareness on various environmental issues and providing solutions to cities and regions around the globe. In our endeavor to continue doing the same, ICLEI South Asia- the regional arm of ICLEI in South Asia has adopted a novel method. A comic book has been developed to generate awareness about the nature based solutions. Through this mode of story telling, it is aimed that a wide array of stakeholders- ranging from students, NGOs, officials, city leaders can be reached out to.
The comic book ‘Hope in the City’ emphasises on the need to conserve urban biodiversity and significance of nature based solutions in the wake of climate change. . On this day, it is also the first time that ICLEI has taken to storytelling and narrative to create awareness with a message to the cities to protect its biodiversity before they miss the bus. Nature based Solutions, defined as “actions to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits” provide the answer to the larger issues of building a city’s resilience whether to climate challenges or pandemics.
The comic book, developed by ICLEI South Asia in association with Bee Ideas, has been developed under the INTERACT-Bio project which is supported by Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety, Germany (BMU).
The comic book showcases how nature based solutions like plantation of trees, restoration of wetlands, roof top farming can help cities to conserve biodiversity and build resilience. Examples of successful use of nature based solutions in several cities in India have also been provided in a separate section in the book.
The comic book highlights the need for cities to be in the forefront to combat climate change and biodiversity loss.
Cities will increasingly need to give importance to urban biodiversity and mainstreaming conservation of the same. Nature based solutions leading to increase in native biodiversity will need to be focused on. Planting native plants in parks, roadsides, gardens, vertical and rooftop gardens, and other such areas will diversify the environment to support native mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects. Creating small wetlands, such as ponds or marshes, will support the provision of a range of ecosystem services.
A major re-haul of the way cities treat their natural infrastructure is required. Biodiversity and natural resources management need to be strengthened through improved policy, governance and collective action. This will define the future course of our continued co-existence on the planet.