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NATURA All Hands Meeting 2024

Updated: Mar 21

A Convergence for Nature-based Solutions


by Franklin Kirimi



Greetings from the Lush Kampong Garden!


Nestled amidst Miami's towering skyscrapers and bustling harbours, I experienced the tranquil oasis of The Kampong Garden. A stone's throw from the vibrant Coconut Grove, this garden, once the Fairchild-Sweeney House, is now a testament to the botanical marvels that can thrive in urban spaces. Thanks to the stewardship of the National Tropical Botanical Garden and the generous gift from Catherine Sweeney, the Kampong, from its majestic banyan, serves as a beacon of green serenity and a living piece of history. This tranquil yet stimulating experience was courtesy of NATURA Network and New School who convened representatives of all regions of the NATURA member networks.





Purpose of the Meeting


The 2024 All Hands Meeting marked another milestone for the NATURA network, continuing its annual tradition since 2019. The objective; to foster a global community dedicated to Nature-based Solutions (NBS). By uniting practitioners, researchers, and advocates, the NATURA network project aims to expand collective knowledge, forge collaborative pathways, and inspire actionable change through a shared Global roadmap. KDI has been pleased to be a long term supporter and a partner of NATURA Network (Africa node) since 2022.


KDI's pathway to NBS


Through the r-u-NBS team, Kounkuey Design Initiative (KDI) proudly stands at the forefront of implementation, research, and learning on urban nature, especially in the most vulnerable urban areas, since 2006. Our collaborative ventures in Dar es Salaam with the Center for Community Initiative (CCI) under the r-u-NbS program exemplify our commitment to community-driven solutions and evidence-based advocacy. As a key player under NATURA's Africa node, KDI continues to leverage this network to enhance our methodologies, share insights, and identify synergies that advance NBS across African cities. We were pleased to be invited to share our experience under r-u-NbS and other previous and concurrent projects in which KDI co-designs, builds and monitors NbS to address water management issues and challenges related to Climate Change facing residents in informal settlements within Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.


Alongside other exchanges, Franklin, representing the r-u-NBS program team co-presentation on “Participatory Methods to plan and design NbS in the context of Urban Informality”. In this microtalk session, I shared on the tools in particular Minecraft by Block by Block in leveraging its potential strengthens and capacities,and learn from its limitations in participatory  visioning incorporation of NBS through co-design and implementation of a riverfront public space in Mukuru settlement in partnership with UN-HABITAT ;  referred to in Alannah Hofemeier’s NATURA Early Career Fellowship case study. Additionally, we both ran a roundtable workshop on action research and urban informality. These platforms allowed us to share our innovative work in informal settlements, demonstrating the tangible impacts of NBS on waste water management and disaster risk resilience.

Franklin Kirimi at the All hands meeting sharing KDI's and r u NbS experience, Miami 2024 (Source: NATURA Network, 2024)


Global NBS Trends and the African Perspective


Insights from NATURA team leads, Timon McPhearson, Nancy Grimm, and Loan Diep highlighted the burgeoning global interest in NBS research. However, a notable gap persists in contributions from the African continent. This disparity underscores the critical need for Africa to delve deeper into its rich ecosystems, advancing urban resilience and climate solutions through NBS. The call to action is clear: more collaborative efforts, documentation, and knowledge exchange are imperative to safeguard our natural heritage and propel sustainable urban developments.


Looking ahead


The journey doesn't end here. The r-u-NBS team, in collaboration with SwedBio and other partners, is poised to further the NBS dialogue through seeding initiatives like the Regional Community of Practice (RCoP). This hub will serve as a crucible for information exchange and collaborative opportunities in Eastern Africa, bolstering the mainstreaming of NBS in urban informal neighborhoods and beyond. We are keen to be on board the Urban Informality Working group to integrate perspectives from the Global South specifically our Eastern region.

As we reflect on the fruitful discussions and shared experiences of the 2024 All Hands Meeting, I was elated, re-energized and inspired by the momentum to nurture and implement nature-based solutions that resonate with our communities and ecosystems. 


For more insights and updates, learn more from our team through (http://www.r-u-nbs.info).




Early career Network team, Miami 2024  (Source: NATURA Network, 2024)

           


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