Award-winning project Strasbourg unites for biodiversity

Strasbourg, France

"All united for more biodiversity" is a charter to manage green spaces in Strasbourg, France in an eco-friendly way.

The All united for more biodiversity charter, launched in 2012, is based on sustainable development and a participatory approach. The charter brings together 75 signatories from both professional and community organisations who commit to supporting biodiversity.

Since then the city government has worked steadily on improving its environmental impact, and on promoting biodiversity through their forests and woods, parkland and nursery gardens, both in the city centre and on the outskirts. 

Through the charter, all stakeholders are given the opportunity to work together, thus strengthening an eco-friendly network and multiplying its impact on the city.

Award-winning project

This project was awarded the 'URBACT Good Practice Label' in 2017. Learn more about the award.


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City information
City
Strasbourg

Population composition
The population of the City of Strasbourg exceeds 276,000, the largest group of people fall into the 15 to 29 demographic, making up over 28% of the population. The 0 to 14 demographic makes up 17.3% of the population, the 30 to 44 demographic comprises 19.9% of the population, the 45 to 59 demographic makes up 16.6% of the population, the 60 to 74 demographic is 11.1% of the population, while 6.9% of the population is 75 and older. (world population review 2018)

Main functions
Strasbourg is the capital and largest city of the Grant Est region of France and is traversed by the Ill River, which divides and surrounds the Grand Île (Big Island) on which the old town and most of the city’s famous buildings are situated. The island was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1988. Strasbourg is the official set of the European Parliament and is considered the legislative and democratic capital of the European Union, while Brussels is considered the executive and administrative capital and Luxembourg the judiciary and financial capital. Strasbourg is the seat of the following organisations, among others: Council of Europe, European Ombudsman, International Institute of Human Rights, International Commission of Civil Status, Assembly of European Regions and the Centre for European Studies.

Main industries / business
Strasbourg plays a major role as a business, commercial, and cultural centre, as well as a hub of road, rail, and river transportation. Strasbourg’s present-day economic activities include food processing mechanical and electrical engineering, and the manufacture of pharmaceuticals, electronics, and plastics. There is also a large automobile assembly plant in the city’s industrial port zone - one of the largest on the Rhine and handles shipments of petroleum, agricultural products, and building materials.

Sources for city budget
Each year, the city council votes on the city budget, which provides for and authorizes expenditures and revenues. A budget orientation debate takes place in the two months preceding this vote. The budget has two parts: the investment and operating sections. operating revenue (income from property, entry into public institutions, parking fees), the overall operating grant paid by the State (DGF), and especially the revenues provided by direct taxation (taxes premises whose rate is fixed each year by the City Council)

Political structure
The City of Strasbourg is administered by a municipal council and by the mayor assisted by deputies. The Mayor is elected by the municipal council for a term of 6 years. The municipal council is elected every 6 years by direct universal suffrage. The number of deputies is determined freely by the municipal council without being able to exceed 30% of its total workforce. The number of elected municipal officials varies according to the population of the municipality. In Strasbourg, the municipal assembly is composed of 65 elected representatives -the mayor, 22 assistants, 42 municipal councillors. The city has 10 districts. The city council meets 10 times a year, usually on a Monday, when the Mayor sets the agenda. The sessions are public.

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Background and objectives

In 2008, the City and Urban Community of Strasbourg began an irreversible program involving a blanket ban on the use of pesticides in the city's public spaces. This was an important step forward in the effort to improve the city's quality of life and was designed to help protect public health, preserve water resources from pollution and prevent damage to groundwater.

In 2012 the All United for more diversity charter was adopted by the city government including the following objectives:

  • Continue the ban on the use of pesticides, which can be harmful to soil flora and fauna (especially earthworms and microorganisms). Soil with a thriving microorganism population encourages plant growth and provides better resistance against drought, excessive rainfall, disease and parasites.
  • A return to planting local plants when possible. Plants that have adapted to the soil and climate of the region need less watering and are better equipped to resist disease.
  • Increased use of hardy, perennial plants which need less water. Annual plants often require much more care and their use is being limited.
  • The introduction of beehives and orchards into the city, thereby highlighting the nutritive value of urban gardens and the essential roles of bees in pollinating fruit trees
  • The creation of natural and flowered meadows to encourage the return of a richer fauna, and melliferous fields to encourage the work of bees.
Implementation

Organisations participating in the project choose between six actions that are listed by categories. For example, “preserving the environment” equates to abandoning the use of pesticides, “save energy and resources” means reducing watering or light pollution, “planting for biodiversity” is implementing local species and meadows for bees, and “protect and develop the ecosystem” includes installation of biodiversity shelters and green walls and/or roofs.

One of the main measures of the charter has been the abandonment of pesticides in the management of green spaces of the following types::

  • Flowered areas (plant containers, window boxes, hanging baskets),
  • Horticultural green spaces (traditional gardens and parks, the areas around monuments, public buildings and churches, etc.),
  • Urban green spaces forming district centres (busy squares),
  • Interdistrict urban green spaces (promenades, riverbanks, etc),
  • Extended green spaces (natural spaces or meadowland),
  • Ecological natural spaces (conservation of flora and fauna).

In return for their commitment to the charter, signatories (companies, associations, local authorities, donors, etc.) benefit from technical support. The Eurométropole offers technical advice, training, conferences and educational tools to raise the awareness of stakeholders.

Financing and resources

Institution in charge of implementation: Eurométropole de Strasbourg

Associated Community Services: Environment and Energy Transition Service

Budget: € 30,000 / year

Financial partners: Rhine-Meuse Water Agency

Technical partners: Rhine-Meuse Water Agency, Alsace Nature, LPO, My tree garden, My nature garden

Results and impacts

Upon its creation in 2012, the Charter was signed by 23 stakeholders, by 2017 the charter counts 75 signatories. While 89% of organisations used pesticides when signing the charter, 84% of the signatories pledged to plant local species, whether meadows, natural hedges or fruit trees.

Mondelez International (Suchard factory) signed the charter in 2012. The company wanted to involve employees in the choice of actions to undertake. Among the first decisions were the ban of pesticides, a fauna/flora diagnosis, and the implementation of 19 beehives. Many other projects followed including a shared garden and the installation of 16 nest boxes (both specialised and unspecialised). Additionally, there are future projects planned: shared composting, the implementation of a school orchard and fruit trees, and the creation of a pond.

Barriers and challenges

Initially, gaining support for the charter was not easy, biodiversity protection was not high on the agenda of local companies producing shoes or chocolate and it was difficult to convince them to sign the charter. However most companies appreciated the opportunity to involve their employees in team building activities and from this perspective, tree planting, nest building or bee keeping were attractive proposals. Today 88% of signatories involve their staff in biodiversity-related activities which in turn contributes to more people becoming aware of nature-friendly management practices.

Lessons learned and transferability

This project is unique because it involves citizens, government agencies, community and private sector organizations. This project can be implemented in other cities who aim to increase biodiversity and make their city more sustainable.

References

External links / documents