The University of Virginia School of Architecture is pleased to announce the receipt of a $248,670 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) to assist in managing the growth of the Biophilic Cities Network. Since 2013, Biophilic Cities has worked with cities, scholars and advocates to produce and sponsor the Biophilic Cities Journal, articles, webinars, and speakers from cities across the globe with the aim of helping to build an understanding of the value and contribution of nature in cities to the lives of urban residents. Tim Beatley, the Executive Director of Biophilic Cities and the Teresa Heinz Professor of Sustainable Communities in the Department of Urban and Environmental Planning, founded the project following the publication of his book, Biophilic Cities, published in 2010.

Support from RWJF will allow Biophilic Cities to expand its reach and impact, through the development, testing and initiation of a web-based global collaborative platform for cities around the world to communicate with each other and work collectively on activities that help those cities progress toward the vision of Biophilic Cities, to create robust and rich connections to nature for all citizens. The platform will utilize a host of digital tools to facilitate opportunities for collaboration, including the sharing of experiences and insights across countries and cultures in the form of reports, research, and data related to biophilic planning and design. The funding will also support the creation of a virtual online community that will host various events and platform-facilitated networking meetings of leaders from various Partner Cities.

With an ambitious goal of growth and expansion and a targeted timeline of two years, the Biophilic Cities Network aims to double the number of Partner Cities, reaching fifty cities, by the end of 2019. In addition, Biophilic Cities will work to cultivate cooperative relationships with other established national and global networks, such as 100 Resilient Cities, Urban Sustainability Directors Network, the National League of Cities, C40 Cities and the European Green Capital cities. These affiliations will serve as ambassadors for the growing Biophilic Cities Network and the larger biophilic cities movement.

Since establishing Biophilic Cities in 2011, Professor Beatley has lectured and written extensively on the subject of biophilia and the built environment. In his recent book, Handbook of Biophilic City Planning and Design (2017), he builds upon the position that nature in the city is more than infrastructure – it also promotes well-being based on an innate connection we have with the natural world. Serving as a leading resource on biophilic urbanism, the publication has helped to advocate for innovation in urban nature conservation and design.

The Biophilic Cities Network will ignite and power a larger global movement that reimagines cities as ecosystems, places of nature, sites of biodiversity conservation, which will help at once to solve global urban problems (combatting climate change, urban heat island effect, potable water supply, among others) and enhance the physical and mental health and wellbeing of residents of cities.