4.6 Article

A transformative mission for prioritising nature in Australian cities


Volume 51, Issue 6, Pages 1433-1445


DOI: 10.1007/s13280-022-01725-z


Indigenous knowledge; Metropolitan; Nature-based solutions; Planning; Policy; Urban


  1. US National Science Foundation (NSF) project NATURA
  2. ARC Linkage Grant [LP160100324]
  3. Ian Potter Foundation
  4. Australian Research Council [LP160100324] Funding Source: Australian Research Council

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Australia is facing pressures related to urbanization, biodiversity loss, and climate change. Cities in Australia can play a leading role in finding solutions to address these emergencies. This perspective piece proposes three interconnected pathways to transform Australian cities into nature-positive places of the future: evidence-based planning for nature, collaborative planning, and empowering communities to innovate with nature. The lessons and pathways discussed have global applicability and can contribute to science-policy debates on biodiversity and climate change.
Australia is experiencing mounting pressures related to processes of urbanisation, biodiversity loss and climate change felt at large in cities. At the same time, it is cities that can take the leading role in pioneering approaches and solutions to respond to those coupling emergencies. In this perspective piece we respond to the following question: What are the required transformations for prioritising, valuing, maintaining and embracing nature in cities in Australia? We adopt the mission framework as an organising framework to present proposed pathways to transform Australian cities as nature-positive places of the future. We propose three interconnected pathways as starting actions to steer urban planning, policy and governance in Australian cities: First, cities need to establish evidence-based planning for nature in cities and mainstream new planning tools that safeguard and foreground urban nature. Second, collaborative planning needs to become a standard practice in cities and inclusive governance for nature in cities needs to prioritise Aboriginal knowledge systems and practices as well as look beyond what local governments can do. Third, for progressing to nature-positive cities, it is paramount to empower communities to innovate with nature across Australian cities. Whilst we focus on Australian cities, the lessons and pathways are broadly applicably globally and can inspire science-policy debates for the post COP15 biodiversity and COP26 climate change implementation processes.


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