Cities must connect with nature to build resilience – IUCN President

We must connect cities with nature to build resilience in the face of climate change and natural disasters, said IUCN President Zhang Xinsheng while attending the 2018 Global Forum on Urban Resilience and Adaptation in Bonn last week.

IUCN President Zhang Xinsheng speaking at the 2018 Global Forum on Urban Resilience and Adaptation in Bonn

Rapid migration to urban areas is a challenge for both humans and nature, with 70% of the world population projected to live in cities by 2050, the IUCN President said in his keynote speech at the Forum. The more people settle in cities, the more isolated they risk becoming from nature, he said. Solutions to challenges such as global warming and increasing natural disasters must come from those managing and governing cities, he added.

In order to build resilient cities, we must recognise the connections between them and their natural surroundings, said Zhang Xinsheng. He emphasised that IUCN has built on the concept of Nature-based Solutions to bring humans closer to nature and to address complex challenges such as climate change.

Zhang Xinsheng also declared IUCN’s commitment to supporting the the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) and other organisations, as well as local authorities, in working towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the goal of limiting global warming to below 2oC. He emphasised the role of the Global Forum in helping achieve SDG Goal 11 – to make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. He closed his keynote speech with a reminder that IUCN is present in Bonn through its Environmental Law Centre, an essential partner to achieving resilient cities.

Almost 300 hundred representatives from global, national and local authorities, NGOs, academia and civil society gathered for the Forum, organised by ICLEI Local Governments for Sustainability in Bonn from 26 to 28 April.

Zhang Xinsheng participated in the Global Forum as a guest of honour and delivered his keynote speech during the dinner reception hosted by Ashok Alexander Sridharan Lord Mayor of Bonn and Monika Zimmermann, Deputy Secretary General of ICLEI.

While in Bonn, President Zhang Xinsheng also met with Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), with whom he exchanged ideas on how to address climate change using Nature-based Solutions.

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