Meet the Author:
Henk Ovink,  The Hague

Many voices. Greener cities. Better cities.
Henk Ovink

Henk Ovink

Henk Ovink was recently appointed by the Dutch Cabinet as the first Special Envoy for International Water Affairs for the Kingdom of the Netherlands. “Worldwide, water is the connecting issue, the number one global risk and the opportunity for comprehensive cultural change.” Ovink is Principal of 'Rebuild by Design’ and was Senior Advisor to the former US Presidential Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task. He was both Acting Director General of Spatial Planning and Water Affairs and Director National Spatial Planning for the Netherlands. Ovink is member of the International Advisory Board for the City of Rotterdam. He was Curator for the 5th International Architecture Biennale Rotterdam 2012 ‘Making City’ and initiated the research program Design and Politics, the connecting chair at the TU Delft and initiated and is chief editor for the series of publications with nai010 Publishers, called ‘Design and Politics’.

May, 2022

18 May 2022

COVID-19 as an Accelerator to Rethink the City
Ana Faggi, Buenos Aires

Urban public space has been a subject of rethinking for decades regarding its role as a catalyst for revitalization and as a promoter of social interaction. Thus, most cities have experienced substantial improvements which positioned them in a better ranking of liveable cities, since the type and quality of urban...

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1 May 2022

Urban Form and Urban Nature After the COVID-19 Pandemic
Rob McDonald, Basel

The COVID-19 pandemic is slowly receding and, while it still is a fatally serious problem in some places, it is possible to imagine it at least receding into an endemic disease. It is perhaps, therefore, a good time to reflect on what COVID-19 has meant and will mean for urban...

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April, 2022

21 April 2022

A illustration of a park within a city
Translocal Adventures, Communities of Practice, and the TNOC Festival
Duncan Crowley, Lisbon Giorgia Silvestri, Rotterdam Sara Silva, Lisbon

UrbanA, ECOLISE, and Communities for Future joined forces to lead an experimental seed session on the first day of the amazing The Nature of Cities Festival (with online discussions on the #TNOCFestival hashtag). About 25 people turned up from different corners of the planet, on Monday 22nd of February 2021,...

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14 April 2022

Better Rankings for Better Cities: The Limitations and Prospects of City Rankings
Devansh Jain, Singapore Perrine Hamel, Singapore

So, what happens when a city reaches the top ranks? Have you ever noticed the kind of media attention the city gets? City rankings are indeed very popular and attract a lot of media attention across the globe. Each year, there are more than 40 city indices published globally. In...

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4 April 2022

A flooded street with cars and people
Developing a Successful Climate Action Plan for Mumbai
Samarth Das, Mumbai

Acknowledging local conditions and ensuring adherence across agencies and citizens will ensure achievements of its goals. With over 140 km of coastline and 480 land area, Mumbai is one of the most vulnerable cities to climate change induced hazards such as sea-level rise, storm surge, and urban flooding amongst...

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March, 2022

21 March 2022

Three pink tulip flowers attached to bulbs and roots on a white background, Sixteen Miles Out,
Can we enable better decision-making when it comes to urban plant selection and preparation? Does urban ecology and the horticulture industry need to be better engaged with each other?
María AragãoTimothy Blatch, Cape Town Amy Bowen, Lincoln Luis CamargoMartha Fajardo, Bogota Andrew Grant, Bath Richard HallettMark Hostetler, Gainesville Nikara Mahadeo, Cape Town Peter MassiniDarby McGrath, Lincoln Matthew Morrow, New York Max Piana, Amherst Ryan Plummer, St. Catharines Mohan Rao, Bangalore Keith Sacre, Cambridgeshire Georgia Silvera SeamansIan Shears, Melbourne Audrey Timm, Chilton Ernita van Wyk, Cape Town Mike Wells, Bath

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21 March 2022

A gathering of people at an outdoor table under an awning
Growing Food Together Is Healthy
Marthe Derkzen, Arnhem/Nijmegen Berber Bergstra, Wageningen

Nature and greenery are good for you; we all know that by now. But is it also possible to improve your health by actively seeking out greenery or by getting involved in greenery yourself? That is, can you improve your health simply by taking an action? This is something Wageningen...

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2 March 2022

A group of people posing for a photo in front of a statue
Moving toward Anti-Racism in the Environmental Field
Cindy Thomashow, Seattle

This article is a statement of gratitude for experiences that have moved me toward antiracist environmental education. The last 20 years of my life have been a story of reckoning and awakening to pervasive racism and its effect on the environmental field. I was never taught the history of enslavement,...

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February, 2022

25 February 2022

A scale made of leaves
This Changes Everything: New York’s Environmental Amendment
Rebecca Bratspies, New York City

In November 2021, New Yorkers overwhelmingly voted to add an environmental amendment to their state constitution. Section 19, which provides that “Each person shall have a right to clean air and water, and a healthful environment,” is now part of the New York Bill of Rights (the part of New...

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11 February 2022

A digital model of a street with real life pictures of vendors incorporated
The Ecology of a Soi: Bangkok’s Generic Architecture from Inside-out
Brian McGrath, New York Vineet Diwadkar, Bangkok

Sois, or lanes, are the capillaries of Bangkok, Thailand. Like rectangular blocks in New York City, or piazzas in Rome, they constitute the architecture or the DNA of the city. For anthropologist Erik Cohen, a Bangkok soi constitutes an overlooked “semi-autonomous ecological sub-system” which comprise the “interstitial hinterland” between the...

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January, 2022

20 January 2022

Highlights from The Nature of Cities 2021
David Maddox, New York

When we read unexpected and remarkable things, we smile, even laugh out loud, and think: yes, this makes sense; and I didn’t think of it before now. In this spirit, let us celebrate some of the highlights from TNOC writing in 2021. These contributions from around the world were some combination...

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18 January 2022

Embracing Diverse Concepts of Nature-based Solutions to Enact Transformational Change: A Perspective From the Early Career Working Group of the NATURA Network
Zbigniew Grabowski, Millbrook Ffion Atkins, Cape Town Lelani Mannetti, Atlanta Clair Cooper, Durham Danielle McCarthy, Belfast Robert Hobbins, Atlanta Matt Smit, University Park Yuliya Dzyuban, Singapore Charlyn Green, Atlanta Yeowon Kim, Ottawa Hopeland P, Tamil Nadu Pablo Cantis, New York Luis Ortiz, New York

Governments and communities around the world are embracing Nature-based Solutions (NbS) as a major climate adaptation strategy. Building off of pre-existing approaches to integrating ecological and built systems, NbS attempt to meet a wide array of social goals including improving urban quality of life, supporting transit and recreation, and mitigating...

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2 January 2022

Where Have All Our Gunda Thopes Gone? An Illustrated Story of Loss and Hope Around Peri-Urban Commons in Karnataka, India
Sahana Subramanian, Lund Neeharika Verma, Amherst Sukanya Basu, Göttingen Seema Mundoli, Bangalore Harini Nagendra, Bangalore

“Lakshmamma thought sadly of her grandchildren, growing up in the city, in a crowded slum with no thope to run around in or trees to climb.” This excerpt, from our bilingual book “Where have all our gunda thopes gone?”, is a story of loss and hope—loss of nature as a...

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December, 2021

6 December 2021

Planning is Power: How Planning Shaped Colonial Realities in Occupied Palestine
Huda Shaka, Jeddah

Urban planning often serves existing power structures to the detriment of the marginalized and as such has been used as a tool for racial segregation and discrimination in many contexts. As UCLA Professor Ananya Roy puts it: “Urban planning has repeatedly produced segregation and displacement”. Much has been written, for...

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November, 2021

29 November 2021

When “Good Commons” Create “Bad Commons”
Praneeta Mudaliar, Ithaca

Can practices that produce “good” commons also create “bad” commons? In some instances, practices of commoning spaces that are neither public, private, nor common can also degrade these spaces. Mornings in my neighborhood of Wanowrie in Pune city, in the western state of Maharashtra, India are a charming sight. An...

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18 November 2021

Dismantling Racism. Reimagining Richmond.
The Richmond Racial Equity Essays.

Ebony Walden, Richmond

The world is indeed a different place than it was when the idea for the Richmond Racial Equity Essays project was conceived in 2019. With the COVID-19 pandemic, the tragic murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests, activism and increased awareness of racial inequities and injustice, the need for...

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15 November 2021

The Wild Edges of Our Garden
Kirby Manià, Vancouver

One morning before school, my father hurriedly interrupted my sister and me at the breakfast table, with a look of mischief in his eye, and an instruction to follow him, quickly and quietly, into the garden.1 It was a relatively chilly morning, at least by the standards of generally sunny...

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October, 2021

29 October 2021

Joseph Rabie, Montreuil

In the end, Humankind reverse-engineered the heavens and the world. And while there had been some semblance of order before, Humankind turned it all inside out, night became muddled with day, and day with night. Humankind took the carbon lodged in the darkness of the earth and expelled it into...

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18 October 2021

La réinvention du parc Jean-Drapeau : un nouveau parc plus accessible, diversifié, public, et vert
Jonathan Cha, Montreal

To read this essay in another language, use Google Translate at the top of this page. Un grand parc contemporain modèle d’adaptation et d’innovation Le parc Jean-Drapeau, localisé en face de Montréal, sur le fleuve Saint-Laurent, fait partie de l’arrondissement de Ville-Marie et de l’archipel d’Hochelaga. Situé sur un territoire...

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September, 2021

28 September 2021

Green Infrastructure is Infrastructure: Future Opportunities for Nature in Cities
Will Allen, Chapel Hill

“Both [US political] parties agree: Trees are infrastructure. The bipartisan infrastructure deal moving through the Senate includes at least $5.75 billion for restoring, monitoring and researching forests, according to the legislative text and summary. Beyond money, the package also includes policies that could make it easier to prepare for wildfires....

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