Resilient Cities 2013: the values of green spaces for cities

03 July 2013 | Article

The ICLEI Resilient Cities Conference is an event held annually in Bonn which connects local government leaders and climate adaptation experts from all over the world to discuss adaptation challenges in urban environments. The event serves as a forum for innovative ideas and strategies for resilient urban planning and knowledge sharing.

The 2013 edition of Resilient Cities took place from 31 May to 2 June and showcased progress on strengthening urban resilience in key areas: ecosystem-based adaptation, social aspects of adaptation, and resilient design and technology.

IUCN, in collaboration with ICLEI, hosted a workshop on integrating biodiversity and ecosystem valuation into urban planning and design. Cities and municipalities can benefit from making the economic value of nature an integral part of local planning processes. They can learn from existing knowledge and methodologies to assess and integrate the monetary values of biodiversity and ecosystem functions. Using nature-based solutions for adaptation can help cities save costs - traditional technological solutions can be replaced with cost-effective green infrastructure.

Johannes Langemeyer from the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (Spain) highlighted three examples of how Barcelona accounts for the values of ecosystem services of urban forests, parks and gardens. He showed that urban ecosystems can offer important benefits to the city, such as food provisioning, air quality regulation and recreation.

During the plenary session of the conference focusing on ecosystem and green/blue infrastructure-based approaches to adaptation, Anne Jensen, Senior Researcher at the Aarhus University (Denmark), presented the case for how green infrastructure can enhance the adaptive capacity of cities and explained the value of green spaces for urban citizens, based on research in the city of Copenhagen. She presented green roofs as local rain retention solutions which are mandatory in Copenhagen for buildings with specific roof gradients, according to the city’s 2011 urban plan and the 2013 wastewater plan. Liveability, recreation, urban sustainability, citizens participation, biodiversity conservation, rain water retention, insulation improvement and air quality regulation are among the key benefits which green roofs can bring to citizens, she maintained.