Urban Natural Assets
We support local governments in Africa to protect and revitalise their urban natural assets by integrating nature-based solutions into land use planning for increased resilience.

Nature provides an abundance of free services like raw materials, fresh water, food, and traditional plants. Trees and green spaces lower city temperatures and improve air quality. Especially in urban areas, these natural assets are crucial to the city’s economy and the health and wellbeing of its people.

The Urban Natural Assets for Africa (UNA) programme supports local governments in Africa who experience challenges around protecting and revitalising their urban natural assets. It aims to integrate nature-based solutions into city planning activities.

The UNA programme’s four flagship projects are Urban Natural Assets for Africa (UNA Africa), Urban Natural Assets: Rivers for Life (UNA Rivers), Urban Natural Assets: Coasts for Life (UNA Coasts) and Urban Natural Assets: Resilience and Restoration for Life (UNA Resilience). UNA is implemented by ICLEI’s Cities Biodiversity Center.

Building on the previous UNA programme work funded by SwedBio since 2014, the overarching impact of UNA Resilience – the newest, and fourth, project under the UNA programme (2021-2024) – is to transform development trajectories for African cities towards those that improve sustainable development of, and interconnectedness with, their surrounding natural systems along three interlinked urban pillars (governance, planning and finance), through building urban resilience, sufficient agency and momentum for an unfolding process of transformative change.

Project Location

Kisumu, Kenya | Addis Ababa, Ethiopia | Kampala & Entebbe, Uganda | Nacala & Quelimane, Mozambique | Dar es Salaam, Tanzania | Lilongwe, Malawi

Project Duration

2013 to 2024

UNA Brochure

Project Highlights

#pandemic, #placemaking, #planner, #PlanWithNature, #publicspaces, #realestate, #resilient, #responsibleinvesting #streetsasplaces, #sustainable, #sustainablefinance, #sustainablejobs #ULIGreenprint, #UNACoasts, #UNARivers, #walkability, #WalkBikePlaces, #webinar, #WorldWaterDay

"Natural hazards and climate change will have significant impact on urban investments. We prioritise proactive, adaptive planning to reduce and manage the potential for disasters and climate change."

We're proud to support Kisumu to build resilience through #UNARivers and SEMCCA

Uganda is take #ClimateAction4Africa by using nature to combat livelihood losses and improve food security for its most vulnerable.


READ: https://bit.ly/3neJOf7

We're proud to be founding partners of Source to Sea with @CityofCT, @SANParks & @WESSA_za.

The project will clean & rehabilitate some of Cape Town's urban rivers & create spaces for city residents to enjoy their beauty.

#ClimateAtion4Africa #UNARivers


NEW BOOK | Urban Ecology in the Global South

We're proud that lessons from #UNARivers & #UNACoasts feature in a chapter on #urbangovernance for green and blue infrastructure, providing critical examples of #Africancities taking #ClimateAction4Africa.


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Project aims

UNA is made up of multiple types of ongoing and interconnected activities, all with the purpose of contributing to the following change pathways:

  • Developing cutting-edge tools and methods for:
    • Gaining an in-depth understanding of urban decision contexts
    • Analysis of challenges, needs, opportunities and solutions for improving natural asset management in African cities
  • Enabling co-production and transdisciplinary processes, advancing mainstreaming in practice
  • Enabling institutional (cultural) transformation in 8 African cities
  • Building capacity of African stakeholders, complimented through providing appropriate natural asset information to decision-makers to harness nature for resilience
  • Localising three key international frameworks (Paris Agreement, Sendai Framework and Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020) in African cities, influencing these frameworks with on-the-ground knowledge and experience as well as ensuring alignment and synergies between these frameworks
  • Testing new concepts to assess local applicability, as well as influence the theoretical and practical development of new knowledge areas, e.g. urban tinkering
  • Up and out-scaling UNA developed methods and tools via:
    • ICLEI Africa and ICLEI’s Cities Biodiversity Center programmes and projects
    • Partnerships with UNHabitat, Robert Bosch Stiftung, WWF, UNDRR and others for alignment and expansion

For more on the specific aims and activities of the UNA Africa project please visit the project website.

For more on the specific aims and activities of the UNA Rivers project please visit the project website.

For more on the specific aims and activities of the UNA Coasts project please visit the project website.

For more on the specific aims and activities of the UNA Resilience project please visit the project website.



Partners Logos

Funded By

The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) through SwedBio at the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University

Latest news

It is imperative we build climate resilience through alternative planning at multiple governance levels. UNA Africa does just this through helping us create the enabling conditions for effective and sustainable action. It supports us in prioritising nature considerations into climate planning and development processes.
Mr. John Chome, Chief Executive Officer, Lilongwe City Council

Photo Gallery

Related Publications

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    Impact story: Mainstreaming in Practice

  • Thumbnail

    Impact story: Working with informality

  • Thumbnail

    Impact story: Practice Reform

Main Contact

Jessica Kavonic