By the year 2050, scientists project that the world’s population will reach 9 billion people, and two-thirds of that population will be city dwellers. As more people concentrate in cities, they will need access to fresh water, clean air, and safe coastlines, putting tremendous pressure on the natural resources that cities already use. The Nature Conservancy aims to address not only how those resources can be sustainably provided, but how they will be managed.
Our vision is to fundamentally change the relationship between cities and nature, so that both can thrive. To turn that vision into reality, we will work with communities, mayors, planners and developers to incorporate natural solutions into cities and make them more resilient, livable and truly flourishing places.
Here in Illinois, we have years of experience conserving and restoring urban nature that we can build upon to support this initiative. We’ve protected 22,000 acres of metropolitan Chicago land since 1958. The Volunteer Stewardship Network—which the Conservancy helped found in 1983 with the Illinois Nature Preserves Commission—works with 70 volunteer stewardship groups to protect and restore 264 natural areas in the Chicagoland area. We also helped found Chicago Wilderness in 1996, which now unites more than 300 organizations for the cause of urban conservation. This pre-existing framework will serve us well as we work with partners to tackle the following urban conservation priorities for Chicago.