Nature-based Solutions for cities

Rapid urbanisation is placing mounting pressure on the ecosphere but carries promises of renewal - an opportunity to reimagine the built environment and, by extension, our very civilisation. Nature-based solutions can help cities to realise this opportunity. 

About NbS for cities

Despite occupying just 2-3% of Earth’s land surface, cities are home to the surging majority of humanity. Today some 4.46 billion people—roughly 57% of the global population—live in cities. By 2050, this figure is projected to reach 6.7 billion accounting for over two-thirds of us.

Examples from around the world attest that nature-based solutions can cost-effectively and elegantly enhance the sustainability, resilience and liveability of cities. Trees mop up pollutants, dampen noise, and cool the air; wetlands and raingardens reduce flood risk; mangroves and marshes buffer storms; greenspaces facilitate exercise, spiritual nourishment and community interaction; and greenways support active travel. 


of the global population

Cities are home to the surging majority of humanity. For many, the first and only form of nature that can be readily experienced is urban.


of natural resource consumption

Cities consume the lion’s share of Earth’s resources, generating three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions and half of global waste. 


of global GDP

Cities are the drivers of the global economy. Their deep reserves of political, financial and social capital can power the transition to a sustainable future.

Realising the urban opportunity 

IUCN’s new subnational government membership category paves the way for the voices of cities to be heard in the heart of the conservation community. With tools and frameworks such as the IUCN Global Standard for Nature-based Solutions, IUCN Urban Nature Indices, PANORAMA Cities, and the Restoration Opportunities Assessment Methodology, and through projects such as GrowGreen and NetworkNature, IUCN is supporting cities across the world to harness the power of nature-based solutions.

Floating trees in Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Cities and subnational governments pledge to put nature back on track

Today 3 September 2021, cities and sub-national governments made a number of pledges for the environment at  the Local Action Summit as part of the opening day of the IUCN World Conservation Congress,  Marseille, France.