July 13, 2021 Mayors Commit to Greener, Greater Cities
Mayors from over thirty great cities have signed C40’s Urban Nature Declaration. Cities like Berlin, Paris and Toronto commit to protect cities from the impacts of climate change and ensure access to green spaces.
Thirty-one of the world’s great cities will be significantly greener in the years ahead, as leading mayors have committed to further expand, restore and protect urban parks, trees, gardens, ponds, and lakes within their cities. These investments in nature will help protect cities from the increasingly severe impacts of the climate crisis, such as extreme heat, flooding and drought.
The initiative comes from C40, a network of nearly 100 mayors of the world’s leading cities with the aim to take action on climate change, health and social justice. Cities signing C40’s Urban Nature declaration are addressing heat- and water-related risk, ensuring that by 2030, 30-40% of total built-up city surface area will consist of green spaces such as street trees, urban forests and parks; or permeable spaces such as sustainable urban drainage systems and pavements designed to absorb water and prevent flooding. Cities will also focus on promoting accessibility and connectivity for vulnerable communities, ensuring that 70% of the city population has access to green or blue public spaces within a 15-minute walk or bike ride by 2030.
Part of a COVID-19 Green Recovery
But mayors of signatory cities like Seattle, Stockholm, Berlin, Toronto and Paris see this as more than future disaster mitigation. It is about a green and just recovery from COVID-19 that will improve the lives of urban inhabitants here and now – and they have the research to prove it. While urban nature does help cities adapt and respond to the current and future impacts of climate change, study after study shows that equitable access to urban nature is also beneficial to its people.
In Medellín, for example, temperatures have reduced by 2°C as a result of planting more than 10,000 trees for the city’s Green Corridors project. A study in Toronto, Canada, found that adding just 10 trees to a city block has a huge impact on people’s perceptions of their health and well-being, equivalent to the effect of earning $10,000 more per household or being 7 years younger. Meanwhile researchers in Portland, Oregon found the city’s urban trees cut nitrogen dioxide levels resulting in significantly fewer respiratory problems, valued at $7 million in health care savings annually.
“Supporting and protecting cities’ natural ecosystems is one of our most important tools for building resiliency against the climate crisis and creating the healthy, inclusive urban communities we deserve,” said Mark Watts, C40 Cities Executive Director, who continued:
“Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we were reminded that accessible, green spaces are essential for livable, climate ready and crisis prepared cities. As we seek to deliver a green and just recovery, investing in and implementing nature-based climate solutions will be imperative to public health and well-being, as well as the success of global efforts to tackle the climate crisis. The C40 Urban Nature Declaration is yet another example of city leaders acting now to secure the transformations needed for a better future.”
About the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group
C40 is a network of nearly 100 mayors of the world’s leading cities who are working to deliver thesc urgent action needed right now to confront the climate crisis and create a future where everyone, everywhere can thrive. Mayors of C40 cities are committed to using a science-based and people-focused approach to help the world limit global heating to 1.5°C and build healthy, equitable and resilient communities.
Through a Global Green New Deal, mayors are working alongside a broad coalition of representatives from labor, business, the youth climate movement and civil society to go further and faster than ever before.
Photo: Luca Micheli on Unsplash