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Climate-Proof Cities

Using nature to make resilient cities in the face of a changing climate

It is projected that by 2050, two-thirds of us will live in cities.

Urban life can bring many benefits, but it can also present many environmental challenges, such as flooding, pollution, and heat stress. These problems are only expected to get worse as climate change progresses.

What is the Climate-Proof Cities programme?

Earthwatch Europe created the Climate-Proof Cities programme to study how urban green spaces and waterbodies can help cities adapt to climate change.

One important part of the solution is to incorporate nature into our cities. These ‘nature-based solutions’ can help protect cities from the consequences of the climate crisis. They also provide other powerful benefits such as promoting biodiversity, storing carbon, and improving human health.

Our Climate-Proof Cities programme consists of research projects studying nature-based solutions in 17 major cities around the world. We bring together researchers and policymakers to identify the impact that nature-based solutions can have on cities.

If you think your business could be a part of the Climate-Proof Cities programme.

What are nature-based solutions?

Nature-based solutions are methods that use nature (or mimic natural processes) for the benefit of people and their environment. They have huge potential to help cities become more resilient to climate change, and benefit people’s health and the economy.

Nature-based solutions are focused on six key areas:

Urban trees – found in parks, gardens, and along streets, trees can help to regulate urban temperatures, reduce flood risk, and clean the air

Parks and green spaces – natural or planted green spaces are used for recreation and exercise, as well as being rich habitats for wildlife

Green buildings – walls and roofs covered with vegetation act like sound and heat insulation for buildings, and absorb rainwater, so reducing flood risk

Riverbank vegetation – plants along riverbanks trap soil and sediment, improving water quality and reducing flood damage by slowing the flow of water

Wetland and bioswales – natural wetlands and man-made bioswales (or ‘rain gardens’) help to purify water and reduce flooding

Lakes and ponds – natural or artificial waterbodies in cities can hold water for irrigation or drinking, and support a wide range of wildlife.

Our research projects around the world are studying how the placement and management of these nature-based solutions affect the benefits they provide to cities and people.

What's been achieved so far

The Climate-Proof Cities programme was originally delivered through our partnership with HSBC . The programme is now in its second year, has already achieved the following (as at August 2019).

80,000+

data points have been collected by citizen scientists for the research projects in 17 cities

Over 1,600

HSBC citizen scientists have been trained and contributed data to the research

95%

of participants found contributing to the research a useful experience

What's next?

We are currently developing further research opportunities in this area, with a focus on building multi-stakeholder partnerships between corporations, local government, citizens and researchers.

We aim to inform an integrated approach to city planning and management, building an understanding of the interdependencies between decisions on green and grey infrastructure, social cohesion and well-being, and citizen participation and responsibility.

The key priority issues that we are looking at include flood management, thermal comfort, and air quality, as well as the continued development of sustainable finance to support nature-based solutions.

Work with us

Interested in being a part of Climate-Proof Cities? Find out how your business can be Earthwatch’s next partner.

Nature in cities

Learn more about our research into making cities thriving places to live and work.

Our work with HSBC

Climate-Proof Cities started as a collaboration with HSBC, one of our longest-running business partnerships.

Images: John Hunt, Jay Ortiz, iStock/bingfengwu, iStock Nicolas McComber, Francisco Anzola

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