storiesCities are both drivers of ecosystem degradation and vulnerable to it. 

Urban areas occupy less than 1 per cent of the Earth’s land surface but house more than half of its people. Despite their steel and concrete, crowds and traffic, cities and towns are still ecosystems whose condition profoundly marks the quality of our lives.  

Functioning urban ecosystems help clean our air and water, cool urban heat islands, and support our well-being by shielding us from hazards and providing opportunities for rest and play.  

However, through a process of rapid and unplanned urbanization, humans keep on transforming the natural world and create new realities. Left unchecked, urbanization has devastating impacts on natural ecosystems, which in turn negatively affect the wellbeing of urban populations.  

As cities grow, they take space from agricultural and industrial lands that then need to expand into other ecosystems. Adopting nature-based solutions at the urban level to protect, conserve and restore these degraded ecosystems, and mainstreaming the landscape scale in urban planning are key to reconnect cities with nature and mitigate the impact of climate change on urban communities. 

UNEP, through its Generation Restoration project (2023-25), aims to implement a package of measures to address selected political, technical, financial challenges to promote restoration at scale, particularly in urban areas, as a contribution to the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration and the Global Biodiversity Framework

The project focuses on two main components:  

  1. Encourage and advocate in favor of public and private investment in ecosystem restoration and decent work creation through nature-based solutions (NbS).   

  1. Empower city stakeholders (governments; private sector, CBOs/NGOs at all levels) across the globe to replicate and upscale ecosystem restoration initiatives. 

The project will also identify restoration opportunities in finance and job markets, by highlighting the benefits of investing in restoration for job creation, and by showing a pathway to closing the investment gap to meet global commitments on biodiversity and climate. 

As part of the implementation of this project, we are selecting:  

  • 8 Pilot Cities that will be selected for project funded catalytic grants to make the case, develop innovative policy approaches, and initiate implementation of NbS in their cities. 

  • 12 Role Model Cities that will help drive engagement and serve as champions of restoration. 

Stay tuned as we will soon announce the 20 Generation Restoration cities! 


This project is financed by the Federal German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and implemented by UNEP with the support of and in coordination with the UN Decade Secretariat and ICLEI’s Global Biodiversity Center. 

The UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030) is a rallying call for the protection and revival of ecosystems all around the world, for the benefit of people and nature.  

Co-led by UNEP and FAO, the Decade aims to halt the degradation of ecosystems and restore them to achieve global goals. It ends in 2030, the deadline for the SDGs and the timeline scientists identified as the last chance to prevent catastrophic climate change.