I have been working with colleagues at UNESCO NYO and the Stockholm Resilience Center, among others to build upon the work of CUBES to promote the concept of urban biosphere reserves. This concept was explored in depth in the book Urban Biosphere and Society: Partnership of Cities, edited by my colleague Christine Alfsen-Norodom.
Taking cues from the New York State Agricultural Environmental Management program's multi-tiered approach to stewardship, we are now working towards a designation process that uses a tiered approach to enable cities to work their way through comprehensive planning processes that link social and ecological sustainability. Successful implementation of five "urban sustainable comprehensive planning" tiers is envisioned to result in high-visibility designations of cities as "URBIS Partnership Cities of Distinction."
This prototypical concept is a work in progress, and is expected to be unveiled at a UNESCO URBIS Open House on March 4,2010, and in more depth at a poster presentation at the Million Trees NYC Research Symposium March 5-6, 2010.