Davos 2022: how to bring nature-based solutions to our cities

  • Key leaders shared an overview of the steps and work that needs to be done to bring nature-based solutions to cities.
  • Key priorities include a clear implementation agenda, just transition with the most vulnerable communities in mind, comprehensive policy measures and smarter investments.
  • The session entitled “Returning Nature to Cities” took place during the 2022 Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Urban planning faces enormous challenges as cities adapt to climate change. Participants in the Bringing nature back to cities session at Davos 2022 discussed where we are and how we can move forward

Listen to the full session here.

National-level commitment to nature-based solutions is essential

Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, said cities were working to translate a comprehensive urban agenda, including focusing nature protection into actions and results. However, Sharif insisted that “we need to take a step back and rethink how to move forward”. She advised city planners to start by looking for local solutions. If the solutions are not available locally, “look and learn globally. Come back to the city and apply them”.

She also warned that cities are lagging behind in terms of implementing the agenda. Country implementation reports lack consistency: “We are receiving 32 reports out of 193,” she said. Therefore, urgent action is still needed and must be expedited. For this reason, April 28 2022, more than 90 UN member states have committed to implementing the urban agenda through nature-based solutions.

Cities are lagging behind in terms of implementing nature-based solutions, says Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, at Davos 2022.

Cities are lagging behind in terms of implementing nature-based solutions, says Maimunah Mohd Sharif, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, at Davos 2022.

Image: World Economic Forum/ Valeriano

Don’t leave people behind

Sheela Patel, director of the Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centers (SPARC), with more than 38 years of experience fighting poverty and advocating for social justice in India, predicts that we are entering an era of “metropolitization”. Patel said: “We see this as a double leap that we need from our governments and our communities.”

Metropolitan cities are going to have more and more satellite cities supporting rural areas, making it difficult to keep track of urban planning, and policy makers and planners should focus on climate adaptation while trying to make greener cities at the same time. According to Patel, 30-70% of people who live in poor communities still lack minimum development investments to have adequate water and sanitation systems.

Putting cities at the forefront of nature protection

According to Colombian President Iván Duque, “The way we live in cities is the most valuable threat to ecosystem management”. The hydraulic system of the Colombian capital depends mainly on the Páramos, or high altitude ecosystems close to the city. He explained that this inspired BiodiverCities by 2030, a joint initiative between the Colombian government and the World Economic Forum. Its aim is to put cities at the forefront of nature conservation, with carbon neutrality and nature positivity at the centre.

Colombia continues to work at the policy level to apply various nature-based solutions locally.  (Davos 2022)

Colombia continues to work at the policy level to apply various nature-based solutions locally. (Davos 2022)

Image: World Economic Forum/ Valeriano

Colombia continues to work at the policy level to apply various nature-based solutions locally. These include energy transition, clean mobility like cycle networks and electrification, circular economy, water sustainability, green density, river management and sanitation, among others. Duque pointed out that Colombia is the first country in Latin America to launch a green taxonomy that seeks to attract green investments to accelerate the country’s environmental goals.

A wise investment is not just about getting more money

Nature-based solutions have been around for a while. Mike Haigh, executive chairman of Mott MacDonald Group Limited, said there are many ways to bring nature-based solutions to cities. “We should make investments work harder. It’s not about finding extra money because the solutions found may even be cheaper, so let’s make our investments work harder,” he said. declared.

Finally, Duque highlighted the driving force of youth to act against climate change. For example, SAVIA, a Colombian state company environmental education initiativeworks with thousands of young people in Bogota and across the country who want to be part of the solution.

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