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Cities are facing increasing environmental, social and economic challenges amplified by the effects of climate change that threaten the resilience of urban areas and their residents. The COVID-19 crisis has exposed the limited resilience of our cities and has stressed the need and the opportunity to rethink the way we plan, design, develop and manage our cities. Meeting these challenges will require unique transformative solutions for sustainability with a careful consideration of resilience and nature in their implementation.
Nature-based solutions can help address and contribute to increased urban resilience, through the delivery of ecosystem services in urban areas. Ecosystem services contribute to thriving cities during times of stability, particularly through the provision of cultural ecosystem services that bring social, cultural and community benefits and wellbeing. Nature provides diverse life-supporting and life-enhancing contributions to people in cities and towns.
Cities critically depend on interconnected ecosystems, so it is essential that nature is fully integrated into urban planning and development. Also, there is a growing urgency for collective and large scale action to protect the biodiversity in and around cities to prevent irreversible loss and damage to the natural systems we depend on.
Nature-based solutions can provide the location for recreation, social interaction, building community cohesion and contributing to physical and mental health and wellbeing. Ecosystems services can contribute to resilience to sudden change, disruptions and natural disasters, as well as mitigate the impacts of climate change, including heatwaves and storms. Nature-based solutions are usually more cost-effective and resilient than large, centralized grey infrastructure.
The COVID-19 crisis has evidenced the need and showed the benefits of nature in cities and green spaces, since contact with nature offers a way to deal with and counteract stressors of everyday life, while still allowing for social distancing. This session showcases the benefits of resilience planning with nature for a healthier urban future by displaying successful city cases around the world.
- Vasileios Latinos, Senior Officer, Urban Resilience and Climate Adaptation, ICLEI European Secretariat, Germany
- Ingrid Coetzee, Senior Program Manager, ICLEI Africa Secretariat, South Africa
- Peter Vos, Sustainability Expert, City of Genk, Belgium
- Vincent De Paul Kayanja, Mayor, City of Entebbe, Uganda – watch Mayor Kayanja’s full remarks
- Wade Troxell, Mayor, City of Fort Collins, USA