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Revitalizing River Cities: Connecting Biodiversity and Justice

11 - 15 September 2023, Lorentz Center@Snellius, Leiden (the Netherlands)

Detailed information & registration: Lorentz Center

Rivers and waterways provide the world’s ecosystems with critical freshwater resources that sustain a higher biodiversity than almost any other ecosystem (source: International Rivers). Yet, the fragmentation, diversion and pollution of these water bodies endangers the food security, livelihoods, and cultural traditions of millions. The effects of climate change exacerbate river degradation, which is worsened by man-made interventions, especially in urbanized areas, where the health of river ecosystems competes for attention with many other policy priorities.  

The River Cities Network (RCN) was set up in 2022 to address these complex problems, by contributing action research on the river-city nexus in different parts of the world, though case studies of urban river/waterway disruption and degradation. The river-city nexus provides a lens through which to critically analyze relationships between human settlements and rivers over time, as well as a platform to engage in collective action to revitalize local river ecosystems and the communities adjacent to these rivers.

This workshop seeks to identify a theoretical framework, backed up by practical tools, to bring together the two pillars of the RCN alliance, i.e., transformational resilience (“justice”) and biodiversity restoration in the case of urban rivers and waterways. The workshop will be guided by two main questions:  1) How can the biosciences and social science/humanities perspectives speak to each other when it comes to urban rivers and waterways? 2) What are the tools and methods needed in a mixed approach combining a focus on biodiversity and justice, to achieve revitalization of these waterbodies?

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