Nature of Cities
Transform the world’s cities by incorporating nature into urban infrastructure, addressing inequalities, increasing biodiversity, and making neighborhoods cooler, greener, healthier, and safer in the face of extreme weather events such as heat waves and flooding.
Urban planning that incorporates nature can have multiple benefits: cooling environments, reducing flooding, and boosting biodiversity, all while improving health, education, and quality of life. Severe heat waves and a warming climate are particularly dangerous where parks, shade, and trees are few, disproportionately affecting poorer neighborhoods in inner-city communities. Traditional building materials like concrete that absorb and radiate heat (along with other human-related activities such as industry, vehicles, and air-conditioning units) create urban heat islands that can raise temperatures in cities up to 22º Fahrenheit higher than surrounding areas. The use of permeable or plant-covered surfaces can cool environments, improve air quality, and mitigate flooding intensified by climate change. Beyond this, incorporating nature into cities can help prevent the extinction crisis that threatens all life systems on the planet. Wildlife can thrive in novel niches such as green roofs, city parks, yards, and vacant lots, making use of green corridors, tree cover, and other urban microecosystems. “Biophilic” or regenerative cities have been shown to be happier, healthier, more productive, and even better educated. When cities develop a network of natural corridors and green infrastructure to connect parks, orbital forests, and green spaces, they enliven residents, ecosystems, and communities.