UrbanByNature South Eastern Europe Hub Webinar #1 Recap

Slide from SEE Webinar featuring McKenna

Did you miss the first UrbanByNature South Eastern Europe webinar? Let’s briefly recap what happened:

The first UrbanNyNature (UbN) South Eastern Europe webinar addressed step 2 of the UbN programme, and focused on EXPLORING the local framework conditions for implementing nature-based solutions (NBS) and creating greener, more sustainable environments. 

Maja Jovanovic from the Secretariat of Environmental Protection of the City of Belgradeopened the session with a reflection on the outcomes of the UbN South Eastern Europe kick-off event. Jovanic explained how the launch of the hub was able to establish a connection with the European Forum on Urban Forestry (EFUF). Daniela Rizzi, Senior Officer for Nature Based Solutions, Green Infrastructures and Biodiversity at ICLEI Europe, highlighted the solid political commitment of the South Eastern Europe hub and some of the main outcomes of the kick-off event. During a working session, participants had discussed opportunities and challenges for the region when dealing with nature-based solutions, such as public health and safety in the context of climate change, green washing and lack of data.  The facilitator Rebecca Wessinghage, Transition Concepts Officer at ICLEI World Secretariat, also provided a recapitulation of the seven-step UrbanByNature methodology

Representing the CLEVER Cities project, McKenna Davis, Senior Fellow at the Ecologic Institute Berlin, gave the first thematic intervention of the day. She presented different approaches on how to improve local policy coordination and coherence for enhanced NBS delivery. She explained the European landscape on nature based solutions and how CLEVER Cities is connected to this framework. McKenna provided insights on how to overcome barriers in mainstreaming NBS across all levels of government, which includes achieving compatibility among policy arenas and prioritizing collective goals. In order to guarantee coherence, it is important to establish to brainstorm how the policy instrument suits the current political framework, as well as anticipate synergies and trade-offs that might occur when creating or implementing such policies, helping to increase the credibility when speaking to different decision-makers.

McKenna also highlighted the importance of coordinating different agencies and ministries who are in charge of executing the policies through shared information, clearly defined responsibilities and overarching goals. Besides, establishing an innovative narrative on NBS is key to a more effective implementation of such policies. Lastly, she summarized the European Commission’s guiding principles to integrate ecosystems approach into planning, which includes setting long-term objectives and plans, enabling stakeholders engagement and prioritizing measures that improve ecosystem conditions, among others. 

The second intervention came from Marija Vilhelm, Independent Expert Advisor from the city of Banja Luka, Bosnia and Herzegovina, sharing experiences on developing the city’s green belt. Marija Vilhelm explained how the city became known as a “green city” through the transformation of inherited structures into green areas and the importance of the forest belt for the survival of these green structures. 

After introducing the city’s context, Marija presented the spatial plan that the city carried out to increase green spaces. The guideline represents the basic framework for planning and is divided into 4 zones, according to different needs and priorities: the first covering all forest in the urban area; second encompassing suburban forests and the arrangements of non-urban parks and revitalization of primeval mountain oak; the third zone represents commercial forests with dominant recreation zones; the fourth includes all forests outside of the first three and focus on intensifying types of recreation. 


The city then developed regulatory plans for forests in these 4 zones without threatening natural values. Marija also focused on how the city employed different instruments to guarantee a better urban planning that considered Nature Based Solutions. Lastly, she informed about the recent declaration of protection of the Banja Luka Forest area, giving an update on the current stage of the process, which includes an expert evaluation of the space and the determination of boundaries for the future of the green initiative. 

In the discussion session, McKenna gave recommendations to Banja Luka on how to create synergies between different levels of policy makers. In order to guarantee political buy-in, it is important to be transparent about the objectives of NBS policies, as well as its limitations. Besides, Marija shared Banja Luka’s priorities for the future: raising awareness on the economic value of the green belt and developing regulatory plans to further inform decision-making processes on NBS. 

The webinar recording is available on the CitiesWithNature Youtube Channel. For more information on upcoming events and to receive our monthly UrbanByNature Digest, fill out the UrbanByNature registration form.

The next UrbanByNature Latin America webinar will take place on 06 September and focus on step 3 / PRIORITISE of the UbN methodology - stay tuned and thank you for joining us!

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The UrbanByNature programme is funded by the Horizon 2020 Framework Programme of the European Union under Grant Agreements No. 730222 and No. 776604. The sole responsibility for the content of this website lies within UrbanByNature and in no way reflects the views of the European Union.