Cities are hubs of innovation and opportunity that connect people and ideas. While we may currently see cities as centers of biodiversity loss and pollution, characterized by areas vulnerable to negative climate change impacts, it does not always have to be so. It is in cities that humanity can start to truly ‘make peace with nature’, where we can come together to design and redesign the way we live and manage our urban infrastructure with nature in mind.
The second UNEA Cities Summit challenges us to ‘flip the script’ and see cities as champions of nature, and accelerators of a sustainable future. Experts and city practitioners will speak about a range of topics to help us rethink our cities through strategies such as early integration of biodiversity considerations in city planning and management, adapting to changing geoclimatic and cultural conditions, and making a strong financial case that quantifies multiple benefits of nature-based solutions in cities.
The Summit was hosted under the umbrella of the Fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly “Strengthening Actions for Nature to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”, the framework of the UN Decade on Ecosystems Restoration, and the Edinburgh Process under the CBD.
Thematic Session: Urban Nature-Based Solutions to Counter Climate Risks and Limit Global Warming
Cities are key drivers of climate change and environmental degradation. Cities consume two-thirds of the world’s energy and account for about 70% of global greenhouse emissions and 75% of natural resource consumption. Urgent action to reduce resource use and emissions is needed to achieve global climate targets.
At the same time, cities are at the forefront of climate impacts. Many of the world ́s cities are exposed to flooding from extreme weather events, storm surges and sea level rise. By 2100, cities across the world could warm as much as 4.4°C on average. Without intervention, this rising heat will have catastrophic impacts on the health, comfort and resilience of all urban communities. Even at 1.5°C of warming, 2.3 billion people could be vulnerable to severe heat waves. By 2030, heat stress could cause estimated global economic losses of USD 2.3 trillion.
Urban nature-based solutions can help cities reduce their environmental impacts, while increasing resilience to extreme heat and weather events, improve air quality and water management, and deliver enhanced health and quality of life for urban dwellers. This session will showcase tools and solutions cities are using to bring back nature into urban environments, to protect the people and the planet alike. It will feature speakers from cities across different regions, climatic zones and urban development levels to illustrate best practices and inspire action.
Jennifer Lenhart, Global Lead, WWF Cities
Stewart Maginnis, Deputy Director General, International Union for Conservation of Nature
Dieudonné Bantsimba, Mayor of Brazzaville, Republic of the Congo
Eleni (Lenio) Myrivili, Chief Heat Officer, City of Athens, Greece
Supriya Sahu, Principal Secretary, Environment Climate Change and Forest, Government of Tamil Nadu, India
Ming Jiang, Deputy Director, Development and Reform Commission, Chengdu City, China, on behalf of UrbanShift
Kunal Kumar, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, India
Rebecca Pow MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Minister for Nature Recovery and the Domestic Environment, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, United Kingdom
Geordin Hill-Lewis, Executive Mayor of the Cape Town, South Africa
Ingrid-Gabriela Hoven, Member of the Management Board, German Development Agency (GIZ)
Kongjian Yu, President, Turenscape, Founding Dean and Changjiang Chair Professor, Peking University college of Architecture and Landscape Architecture
Andy Deacon, Acting Managing Director, Global Covenant of Mayors
The official outcome document of the Summit is now available at this link. You can access the summary report of the Summit at this link, and the full report here. The press release is available on this page.
On March 2, Mayor of Stockholm Anna König Jerlmyr reported back on the outcomes of the Summit at the Closing Plenary of the Fifth Session of the UN Environment Assembly. You can watch the recording of her intervention at this link.