Ecocity Insights

Ecocity Standards and the Urban Nature Index

Written by Jennie Moore

by Jennie Moore,  Director, Institute Sustainability at British Columbia Institute of Technology and Director, Ecocity Centre of Excellence at BCIT.

Ecological Imperatives is the foundational pillar of the International Ecocity Standards. It comprises three standard conditions: Ecological Integrity, Earth’s Carrying Capacity, and Healthy Biodiversity. Together, these conditions require that:

  1. essential linkages within and between ecosystems are maintained,
  2. demands on ecosystems are within the Earth’s bio-capacity, and
  3. biodiversity of local, bioregional, and global ecosystems is sustained.

The Ecological Imperatives pillar of the Ecocity Standards therefore states:

The city is committed to sustaining and restoring biodiversity of local, regional and global ecosystems, including species diversity, ecosystem diversity, and genetic diversity. It keeps its demand on ecosystems within the limits of the Earth’s carrying capacity and supports ecological integrity by maintaining essential linkages within and between ecological corridors.

In September 2018, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in collaboration with the Scottish Wildlife Trust launched the Global Alliance for Greener Cities with an aim of raising awareness about the value of ecosystems in urban areas. An initiative coming out of this effort is the City Nature Index providing a standardized way for cities to measure the quality of their underlying stock of natural resources. The Index is envisioned to work across three scales providing a means for cities to measure:

  1. biodiversity within cities
  2. natural capital assets in and adjacent to cities
  3. cities impacts on remote natural habitats through demand for resources

As envisioned, the City Nature Index promises to be a useful tool, well aligned with the Ecocity Standards, particularly those comprising the Ecological Imperatives. It can help cities gauge their impacts and opportunities to steward natural resources in support of healthy biodiversity within the city, in the bioregion, and globally.

Three teams of global experts are working on developing the measures for each scale of the City Nature Index. Originally planned for public release at the World Conservation Congress to be held in Marsielle in June 2020, the event was postponed due to the Covid 19 global pandemic. It is rescheduled for January 7 to 15, 2021.

About the author

Jennie Moore

Dr. Jennie Moore is Director, Institute Sustainability at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Dr. Moore has extensive experience in the realm of ecological sustainability and urban systems including climate change and energy management, green buildings and eco-industrial networking. Prior to joining BCIT she worked for over a decade at Metro Vancouver as Manager of Strategic Initiatives. Her research explores the potential for Vancouver to achieve one-planet living. Jennie is a senior associate of the One Earth Initiative and a core advisor to the International Ecocity Framework and Standards.