« How would you define the city of the future? 53% of the French answer: “A city where Nature plays a central role”

A recent notice by CESE provides several recommendations for building resilient, livable, and sustainable cities. It emphasized the role of urban nature, and suggests that biodiversity should be a central element of urban development policies (spatial planning, housing transportation, health, agriculture, etc.) To this end, the Council calls for more cooperation between scientists, urban planners, non-profit organizations and elected officials.

Paris © Corinne Legenne, IAU îdF

In this context, IDEFESE proposes to analyze the territory through the lens of society and nature interactions. One way to describe these interactions is through the concept of ecosystem services.

Ecosystem services are material and immaterial benefits that nature provides to society, such as water or air quality regulation, or provisioning of raw materials.

Currently, there are both a knowledge gap and implementation gap on urban ES, such that the benefits of greenspaces are poorly taken into account in urban planning. Although greenspaces are generally part of development plans, their functions and the benefits they provide to citizens aren’t clearly articulated. However, the concept of nature-based solutions is currently gaining traction globally, reflecting the urgency to address increasing urban risks (e.g. flooding, heat waves, etc.) This adds to a growing social demand for urban nature (see the articles in La Tribune, Le Monde,  or Up).

Zurich © Burckhardt+Partner AG/Raderschall AG

IDEFESE addresses three main objectives by leveraging academic knowledge (ecology, economics, climate sciences), and involving a broad range of stakeholders (urban planners, non-profits, water agencies, Chamber of Agriculture, etc.)

The kick-off meeting took place on September 26th, 2018, and aimed to collect feedback and information needs from key stakeholders involved in regional planning and urban nature projects. Stakeholders brainstormed on future scenarios reflecting spatial and political decisions that will be studied within the project.


The group identified 10 priority services (e.g. urban cooling, agricultural production), and a first discussion on future scenarios to be developped has been held.

A second meeting took place in May 28 2019, and aimed at discussing the different indicators/models developped in IDEFESE, discussing ongoing results, and co-develop prospective scenariis to be analysed.