Nature-based solutions – An effective approach to increase cities' climate resilience?

Paris, France

What role can nature-based solutions (NBS) play in climate change adaptation and mitigation? How can NBS be applied in order to achieve integrated risk management and resilience? These questions were addressed at the 'Paris Forum on NBS'. Sandra Naumann, Senior Researcher at Ecologic Institute, presented in the plenary session insights from city initiatives in Europe to demonstrate the potential of nature-based solution and to highlight remaining challenges needing to be addressed.

On the basis of city examples, Sandra Naumann’s lecture showed that nature-based solutions can be an essential means to build climate resilience in cities. Contributions can take the form of, for example, large cooling effects generated through urban forests and parks, microclimate improvements, and increased CO2-sequestration. NBS can also deliver further benefits such as water purification, noise protection, recreational opportunities and increased social cohesion. While some cities are already acknowledging this potential in their urban green development and climate change adaptation plans, several challenges remain, such as:

  • NBS are already widely implemented in cities within and beyond Europe, but lack a coordinated and standardized approach;
  • (Small and medium-sized) cities lack access to resources and knowledge to support them in implementing NBS alongside and instead of "traditional" grey infrastructure solutions;
  • The cumulative impact of NBS has not yet been fully operationalized to address societal challenges and contribute to sustainable urban transformation to the degree possible.

There is an urgent need to take further steps to realize the full potential of NBS to achieve climate resilience in cities. This entails that NBS are adapted to local conditions and needs and that they build on and are embedded within existing natural area networks. There are further needs to foster integrated NBS planning, explore and deploy new governance approaches and – most importantly – shift mindsets from silo thinking towards more integrated decision-making and planning.

This two-day Forum, which was co-organized by the ThinkNature H2020 Project and Paris Municipality, brought more than 140 international stakeholders of different sectors and backgrounds (i.e. scientists, market actors, policy makers) together, including members of several International Organizations, large scale research projects on NBS, pioneer cities, public and financial institutions and green businesses.

The presentation is available for download.

Building resilience in cities requires an integrated NBS planning and adapting NBS to local conditions.

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