Urban Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (URBES)


In Europe, around 75% of the population lives in urban areas. In some countries this figure is estimated to grow to 80% by 2020. With increasing population densities and mounting development pressures, large tracks of land in the immediate surroundings of urban areas are undergoing a process of urbanization. The URBES (Urban Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services) research project aims to bridge the knowledge gap on urbanization processes and the ecosystem services sustaining them.

Coordinated by Stockholm Resilience Center and funded by BiodivERsA, URBES is a major European focused project seeking to address scientific knowledge gaps on the contribution of urban biodiversity and ecosystem services to human well-being. It aims to support European cities to adapt to climate change and reduce their ecological footprints.

The study entails reviewing and expanding upon research on functional diversity, urban ecosystem services, institutions, economics and resilience science with a view to developing interdisciplinary and holistic principles, policies, tools and designs for application in cities. By pioneering the development of The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity-approach (TEEB), URBES is advancing techniques for valuing ecosystem services in the urban context, exploring governance implications and developing guidelines for local governments.

The URBES team will develop a toolkit to better equip local governments in the management of biodiversity and ecosystem services. Empirical studies are being conducted in four European cities, namely, Berlin, Stockholm, Rotterdam and Salzburg. ICLEI and IUCN are closely collaborating to communicate and disseminate the research results and train local governments accordingly.

The URBES partners are also seeking to ensure linkages and contribute to international policy mechanisms and global partnerships like the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), TEEB, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), as well as to the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy and the EU Thematic Strategy on the Urban Environment.

Duration of the project
URBES ran from January 2012 to August2014.

URBES is funded under the BiodivERsA 2010-2011 joint call.

Partners / Team
Stockholm Resilience Centre, Sweden (coordinator);
Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics, Sweden;
Erasmus University Rotterdam, The Netherlands;
Humboldt-University, Germany;
Kiel Institute for the World Economy;
Mistra Urban Futures, Sweden;
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain;
University of Kiel, Germany;
University of Salzburg, Austria;
The New School New York, United States (self-financed);
University of Helsinki, Finland (self-financed).

Niki Frantzeskaki