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SAVE THE DATE: Habitat Day 2022: Urban Rivers – Connecting People, Cities and Rivers

URBAN RIVERS | Connecting People, Cities and River​​​s

Date and Time: 3 October 2022, 16.00-18.00 (CEST, UTC+2)

Type: WORLD HABITAT DAY, Hybrid event

Venue: Polytechnical Association of Norway, Rosenkrantz’ gate 7, Oslo (3rd floor)


Throughout history, rivers have been a central feature in the development of human societies – many of our towns and cities are associated with rivers. This relationship has developed because of their social and recreational value to communities as well as for the opportunities they present for economic development. Rivers provide important natural refuges and corridors between adjacent green spaces, for both people and wildlife. River corridors are not only critical for maintaining the diversity and abundance of urban wildlife populations, but they also provide a place for people to connect with nature and escape from the urban environment. Rivers are naturally dynamic systems, continually moving and interacting with their floodplain. This has, unfortunately, placed them in direct conflict with the process of urbanization.

Cities are grappling with the challenges of unsustainable urbanization, degradation of urban ecosystems, lack of resilience to climate change and non-inclusive urban planning. In the pursuit for economic development cities have exploited rivers indiscriminately. Today many of our rivers are extensively becoming dumping grounds for waste and wastewater discharge and are in a highly vulnerable condition.

As the local governments struggle to keep up with the high levels of urbanization, this over-dependence of cities on their rivers is posing a serious threat to the naturally existing ecosystems. To further deteriorate the situation, the significant value of rivers has been ignored by the policy makers and development experts. It is clearly understood that cities need to bring their rivers to the heart of urban planning. The challenge is to incorporate river management strategies within the core of planning agenda for cities.

This calls for local authorities to act swiftly, providing citizens with healthy and liveable conditions through sustainable development and regeneration, to mainstream and promote nature-based solutions as a tool to create sustainable, resilient and liveable cities.

Fortunately, there is an increasing understanding that ecological restoration is often a possibility, especially when considered along a spectrum of solutions, dependent on the available space, degree of alteration and, naturally, budget. These solutions range from simply providing more urban trees and shade along riverbanks, to recreating stepped terraces doubling as narrow flood plains, to eventually restoring natural floodplains among others.

Helping our rivers to return, in parts, to nature will provide a real opportunity for city dwellers to re-establish a lost relationship with the natural world, improve the quality of their lives and transform cities into liveable, healthy and attractive places for investment. It presents communities and mayors with the opportunity to reframe themselves in a fast-globalizing world.

Event objectives

  1. To discuss the opportunities for river restoration in times of climate crisis

  2. To bring inspiring case studies on river regeneration globally and the applied tools and approaches.

  3. To establish a community of practice on river regeneration and restoration



Host: Erik Berg, Chair. Habitat Norge Moderator: Peter Gotsch, Professor, NTNU

Opening: 16.00 - 16.20
  1. Marianne Borgen, Mayor of Oslo

  2. Maimounah M. Sharif, UN-Habitat - Executive Director

  3. Sigbjørn Gjelsvik, Minister of Local Government

  4. Marianne Skjulhaug, Dean, Faculty for Architecture and Design, NTNU

Keynote: 16.20 - 16.40

Urban rivers through history - present and future challenges of politics, economy, ecology, equity and culture. The role of the international community, Professor Terje Tvedt, University of Bergen

Inspiring Practices: 16.45 - 17.45

16.45 – 16.55

How is Oslo doing it – a global model?

Ms. Ellen de Vibe, former Chief City Planner of Oslo

16.55 – 17.05

Co-design and Placemaking Approach in the Informal Riverbanks Settlements of Solo and Banjarmasin, Indonesia

Ms. Rizqa Hidayani, Kota Kita, Solo, Indonesia

17.05 – 17.15

Nairobi River of Life Project: Peace, rights, environmental justice

Mr. Pascal Mukanga, Kounkuey Design Initiative, Kenya

17.15 – 17.25

The riverine slum population of Kathmandu – past, present and future challenges.

Prof. em. Hans C. Bjønness, NTNU, Trondheim

17.25 – 17.35

Community in the valley: new uses for the Onça Creek banks

Ms. Geruza Tibo,

Ms. Carolina Heller, Belo Horizonte City

17.35 – 17.45

“How we do it”

Ms. Sidsel Andersen, Deputy Chair, Oslo River Forum

Way forward and closing: 17.45 - 18.00

Reactions from partners/Participants: Approaches/models: where do we stand and where do we go? Putting research into practice. -Cities and Partners

Jose Chong, Head of Global Public Space Programme, UN Habitat



Article republished from Habitat Norway - HERE


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