Skip to main content

Resilient, Smart and Sustainable Cities: The power of Nature-based Solutions

sustainable cities
Friday, April 16, 2021, 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm


G20 Italia logo




Cities are at the forefront of both the impacts of, and responses to, major environmental crises. They allow for economies of scale, delivering services to large numbers of people, driving economic growth and innovation, and creating jobs. But they also expose large, vulnerable populations to climate change, environmental hazards and latent stressors such as scarce resources. In essence, the triple crises of climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss are particularly relevant for cities and the people who live in them. Cities concentrate millions of people into locations that can be highly vulnerable to disaster and the impacts of climate change. Nature-based Solutions (NbS) are a broad range of actions that harness the power of nature for sustainable development, that deliver for climate resilience, healthy populations, sustainable economies, green jobs and biodiversity conservation. Within cities, NbS provide multiple benefits including providing natural shading thereby reducing urban heat island effects and cooling needs, managing run-off water, improving health and wellbeing by reducing air pollution and offering recreational space. Around cities, NbS interventions can help with watershed management, recreational space, managing wildfires, reducing and capturing CO2 emissions, and reducing the impact of sand and dust storms.


This event will raise awareness of the potential for nature-based solutions to support resilience in cities and deliver multiple benefits for people, planet and prosperity. It will focus on ways to overcome barriers to scale up of NbS in cities, particularly efforts to quantify the benefits of NbS in cities and explore business models for successful deployment. It will enable the sharing of experiences amongst G20 countries in developing and deploying NbS as a way of inspiring and informing further action. Overall questions for the session are:

1. What are the multiple benefits of nature-based solutions to support people, planet and prosperity in the face of climate change in and around cities? How can those benefits be quantified?

2. What are some of the business models for NbS implementation and how can the uptake be tracked?

3. What have we learned so far about the challenges and successes of nature-based solutions in and around cities?

4. What should the G20 countries do to promote NbS in and around cities?

It will build on the C40 event scheduled for 7th April and titled “Decarbonizing and naturalizing cities to deliver a green and just recovery” which focuses on the NbS experiences and lessons learned from a diverse group of cities. It will also link into and prepare the ground for a second UNEP-UNDP webinar planned for 23rd April which will focus on how multi-level governance can help to drive the successful adoption of NbS.


The workshop is opened to the relevant G20 national and sub-national actors and stakeholders

Proposed agenda structure

Total time 2 h 5m

Welcome by Federica Fricano, Director, European Affairs and International Climate Negotiation, Ministry of Ecological Transition of Italy.
Presentation of the objectives of the workshop by Martina Otto, Head, Cities Unit, United Nations Environment Programme

Session ONE: The multiple benefits of NbS in Cities

Moderated by Ingrid Coetzee, Director: Biodiversity, Nature & Health, ICLEI – Local Governments for Sustainability


  • Stefano Boeri, Stefano Boeri Architetti
  • Yvonne Lynch, Strategic Advisor, the Royal Commission for Riyadh
  • Sean O'donoghue, Senior Manager: Climate Protection Branch, eThekwini Municipality

Guiding questions:

  • What are some of the NbS that you have tested?
  • What are the multiple benefits of NbS that you encountered? How do you quantify them?
  • How did you make the case for the adoption of NbS?
  • What lessons do you draw from your experience that might be relevant for others looking to implement NbS approaches?

Discussion/ Response to questions from the chat

Session TWO: Innovation and business models for scaling up NbS in Cities

by Musonda Mumba, Director, Rome Centre for Sustainable Development - UNDP


  • Boping Chen, Regional Director of Central East Asia, C40
  • Laszlo Pinter, Ph.D. Professor, Team Leader of the Naturvation Project and Head of Department at Department of Environmental Sciences and Policy, Central European University
  • Laurie Stott, Instructor, British Columbia Institute of Technology
  • Sergio Angón, Coordinator of the CityAdapt project, Xalapa, Mexico

Guiding questions:

  • Which innovative approaches can help with planning and scaling up NbS implementation?
  • What are some of the business models that can be replicated?
  • How can we better quantify the multiple benefits and monitor the uptake of NbS in cities?

Discussion Response to questions from the chat

Closing and wrap up by Martina Otto, UNEP


Martina Otto, Head of the Cities Unit, United Nations Environment Programme

Please copy – Elsa Lefevre, Programme Manager Officer, UNEP