Green Gold in Zuidas Amsterdam: An Evening with John D. Liu

It was an honour for us to welcome John D. Liu to The Green Living Lab to learn from his experience of witnessing the value of living systems for both people and planet. John is an ambassador of the Commonland Foundation and a Fellow of The Netherlands Institute of Ecology, NIOO-KNAW. He advises governments and multilateral agencies worldwide, including the United Nations, how to restore vitality to degraded landscapes in order to bring prosperity back to the earth, to local people and the local economy.

John Liu @ the GLL

The Commonland Foundation’s restoration projects work on the principles of 4Returns : the return of inspiration by giving local people a sense of purpose, the return of social capital by creating jobs, providing education and social security, the return of natural capital by restoring biodiversity, soil and water quality, and the return of financial capital where sustainable long-term profit is realised.

We heard from John that biodiversitybiomass and accumulated organic matter are the evolutionary factors that regulate the earth’s climate, along with soil fertility and a freshwater system (hydrological cycle). This is the case in both rural and urban contexts.

Vegetative cover, accumulated organic matter and biodiversity in the city work in symbiosis to create vital ecosystems that are directly beneficial for the health and well-being of the people based there.

It was inspiring for us to hear that John sees that the nature at The Green Living Lab holds great value for the city and people of Amsterdam. This value will only increase over time as the city is forced to adapt to hotter conditions caused by climate change.

The trees and nature at The Green Living Lab work to cool the local temperature, infiltrate water to make the local area resilient against flooding and work to clean the air from the considerable air pollution in Zuidas Amsterdam. The microbial and fungal communities that have developed at The Green Living Lab location over time, give the people who visit this space the experience of nature in its purest possible form in the city.

We heard from John that when the preservation and restoration of nature is given a central place, a healthy society and economy flows from this. Without a healthy living environment, there can be no vital economy in the long-term.

Integrating with nature to design landscapes where the needs of people have a central role is the way to a prosperous and sustainable future.

It is inspiring to see nature in the city is given a central place in international cities including London ( London National Park City ). Hopefully the city of Amsterdam ( Gemeente Amsterdam ) and the Zuidas financial district will not be far behind in integrating nature into current and future development plans in order to make a liveable city.

John is leading the growing citizen-driven movement, Ecosystem Restoration Camps, which brings people together to restore degraded landscapes worldwide. By volunteering and becoming a member, you can help to realise the greener and healthier world that is our best chance of mitigating the effects of climate change.

If you would like to contribute to the movement to restore the earth and co-create abundance for local people, please contact: