B2 Using the potential of nature to create greener, healthier and more inclusive cities

20 Jun 2018
14:00 - 15:30

B2 Using the potential of nature to create greener, healthier and more inclusive cities

Many local governments have to bridge the urgency of having to provide housing with the need to strategically and cautiously plan the sustainable growth of their cities in the medium and long-term. To prevent cities from spreading much beyond their current borders, many municipalities are looking into creating liveable, yet denser urban environments. Public and green spaces in cities often fall into the category of seemingly ‘free’ spaces, which could be used to build on. At the same time, cities are more at risk of being affected by climate change impacts such as increased flooding or higher temperatures, which are in many cases aggravated by the denser urban fabric. Yet, many local governments are realizing that urban nature offers more opportunities to improve quality of life and the environment in a city than many may realise at first glance.

Urban green can act as nature-based solution for many sustainability challenges cities face, particularly when planned as network of green spaces throughout the city and designed to fulfil multiple functions of social and environmental value. Whilst urban nature may be more expensive to create and maintain in the short run, the benefits it offers over many years pay off and outweigh the costs in the initial years. The experience of many cities has shown that creating, re-designing and maintaining urban green spaces on the ground, along walls and on top of roofs works best if citizens are included in the planning and implementation process. Co-developing green spaces, which suit the needs of the citizens whilst achieving ecological objectives as well, can foster local ownership, neighbourhood cohesion and create business opportunities in or next to the green. Citizens who are asked to contribute their time and ideas can help share the task of maintaining the urban green and use their stronger ties to their local community, natural and cultural heritage connected to the green spaces to transform their neighbourhood whilst not going along the path of gentrifying it.

In this session, the panellists will discuss how their cities make sure that planning urban green as nature-based solutions towards some of their urban environmental, societal and economic sustainability challenges happens strategically and in an inclusive way to foster cohesion of the urban society. They will outline how they engage the urban community, so that greening the city becomes relevant to, promoted by, used by and fits all walks of life in their city. The panellists will also outline their approach to promote the greening of their city via their urban policies, plans and initiatives, often going beyond the classic environmental portfolio.


Alice Reil
Officer Sustainable Resources, Climate and Resilience, ICLEI Europe, Freiburg/ Germany

Matthew Bach
Officer Governance and Social Innovation, ICLEI Europe, Freiburg/ Germany


Attila Katona
Doctoral Researcher, Central European University Budapest, Hungary

Peter Massini
Green Infrastructure Principal Policy Officer, Greater London Authority, London, United Kingdom

Kaori Yamanaka
Senior Director, Global Environment Policy Officer, Kyoto City, Japan

Timon McPhearson
Assistant Professor, Urban Ecology, The New School New York, USA

Luc Ferrandez
Director, Management of Parks and Biodiversity and Mayor of Plateau-Mont-Royal, Ville de Montréal, Canada

Jean Baptiste Gernet
Deputy Mayor, Strasbourg Ville et Eurométropole de Strasbourg, France