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UNEP Report on Nature-based Solutions for Cities

August 16, 2021
News item image The report explores how Nature-based Solutions (NbS) can help cities address urgent and fundamental environmental challenges.

A recent UNEP report ‘Smart, Sustainable and Resilient cities: the Power of Nature-based Solutions’, produced in collaboration with the Italian Presidency of the G20, investigates the potential of Nature-based Solutions (NbS) to help build smart, sustainable and resilient cities. The report offers an overview of the best practices of NbS in cities around the world, and provides a set of guiding principles to improve governance.

Cities concentrate millions of people into locations that can be highly vulnerable to disaster, pollution, and the impacts of climate change. By accelerating the implementation of NbS, cities can be better adapted to the changing climate while also enhancing climate resilience and providing other critical benefits, including cleaner air and water.

Examples of urban NbS include:

  • forests, wetlands, green belts and parks in and around cities.
  • green infrastructure such as natural wastewater plants, green roofs, green walls.
  • combined non-motorised transport and ecosystem corridors.
  • other green, blue and hybrid infrastructure.

These and other nature-based solutions build resilience and reduce disaster risk while delivering many other benefits for people and nature, including: climate adaptation and mitigation; clean water and air; cooler streets; and access to green public spaces for recreation and physical, mental and spiritual well-being.

The report highlights that current pilots of urban NbS schemes are often piecemeal, underfunded and applied at too small a scale to have a transformative impact. Delivering NbS at scale requires action at all levels of government coupled with public-private partnerships and community engagement.

NbS need to be built into modern business and finance models in order to scale up action, while incorporating the benefits of nature into business accounting to enable the monitoring of impacts of NbS interventions. However, there is currently insufficient environmental financial data, particularly in developing countries. The implementation guidance focuses on multi-level governance to scale up NbS and increase the impact and coherence of policies and private investments. To be successful over the long term, NbS have to be integrated into the infrastructure planning process at the earliest stage possible and tailored to local contexts and climates.

Read more about the findings and guidance by downloading the full UNEP report or visiting the report webpage.