How Can Cities Tackle Climate Change & Biodiversity Loss in Nature-Smart Ways?

  • There is renewed urgency to tackle biodiversity loss and climate change, both of which can wreak havoc on cities.
  • Despite the obstacles, tremendous opportunities exist if we act together, now, to integrate biodiversity measures into urban development plans and policies.
  • Our new webinar series, “Bringing Nature to Cities: Integrated Urban Solutions to Biodiversity Loss and Climate Change,” convenes decision-makers, experts, and practitioners from around the world to exchange knowledge and hasten collaboration.

Every day, the world awakens to news of another heatwave, flood, drought, tropical cyclone, wildfire, or other climate-induced natural hazard. The new report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gives a code-red climate warning, with a forecast for global warming of 1.5°C by 2040. The global community has grown ever more aware that biodiversity, climate change, economic prosperity, the well-being of people, and the health of the planet are interconnected. 

And cities are of particular concern: They consume 78 percent of the world’s energy and produce more than 70 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. Moreover, seven of 10 people are projected to live in cities by 2050, so urban areas aren’t just a contributor to climate and biodiversity challenges; they also have the unique opportunity to address them in a sustainable, lasting way. 

That is because while urban biodiversity can provide vital benefits—ranging from temperature regulation to air purification—the richness of animal and plant life is diminishing at an unprecedented rate. One million species face extinction, according to findings of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. These losses—accompanied by the destruction of forests and other ecosystems—prevent carbon storage, accelerate climate change, and make it imperative to handle climate and biodiversity issues through integrated, urban-based approaches.

Within this context, the Global Platform for Sustainable Cities (GPSC) and the Global Program on Nature-Based Solutions for Climate Resilience aim to bring together leading policymakers, practitioners, and experts to share knowledge, and help urban areas integrate climate and biodiversity concerns into urban development projects and investments. They are launching a series of discussions, “Bringing Nature to Cities: Integrated Urban Solutions to Biodiversity Loss and Climate Change,” as a joint production with our partners, including:

  • The Global Environment Facility
  • The CBD Secretariat
  • The World Economic Forum
  • The International Union for the Conservation of Nature
  • ICLEI—Local Governments for Sustainability
  • The European Union’s NATURVATION project
  • Alexander von Humboldt Institute, Colombia
  • Biophilic Cities

These partners aim to establish a platform for sharing knowledge and practical, hands-on guidance toward incorporating climate and biodiversity concerns into urban programs and policies.

Together, we will broadly address four themes: 

  • Urban ecological and land use planning for environmental conservation and climate resilience
  • Urban nature, biodiversity, and carbon neutrality
  • Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) for climate-resilient cities
  • Investing in nature

At the first event, “Pathways to Integrated Urban Solutions to Climate Change and Biodiversity,” on Thursday, September 16, 2021, from 8:30–9:45 a.m. ET, senior leadership from international organizations and national and local governments will discuss the urgency of, and opportunities and challenges in achieving an equitable, nature-positive, carbon-neutral future, and the role of cities in reaching that shared vision.