New Delhi, July 14 | Thirty-one of the world’s great cities, including Mumbai, 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 speed up existing efforts to make communities healthier, improve air quality and help protect cities from the increasingly severe impacts of the climate crisis, such as extreme heat, flooding and drought.
The targets set by cities signing the C40 Urban Nature Declaration will see huge increases in public green and blue spaces.
In Durban (eThekwini) work has already begun to complete a Transformative Riverine Management Programme to improve the city’s rivers, which will improve resilience and create thousands of green jobs.
Barcelona will subsidise 75 per cent of the cost of new green rooftops, creating urban allotments and providing space for renewable energy generation, rainwater collection and composting for organic waste.
In Guadalajara, 67,000 new trees will be planted across 70 green corridors, and over 50 new public gardens will be introduced to cool down the city and provide shade and leisure space. The city is funding courses to train gardeners and tree technicians, and providing 400 workshops for residents on caring for trees and gardens.
Under Toronto’s Urban Forests Grants and Incentives programme over 13,000 trees and shrubs will be planted, educating and engaging communities through planting events, educational workshops and youth programming.
In Mumbai, the state government is making amendments to the Tree Act to protect and conserve old trees and prevent felling of trees, while protecting more mangrove trees.
These actions are part of C40 mayors’ continued efforts to deliver a green and just recovery from Covid-19.
Cities signing C40’s Urban Nature declaration are addressing heat- and water-related risk, ensuring that by 2030, 30-40 per cent 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.
The cities will also focus on promoting accessibility and connectivity for vulnerable communities, ensuring that 70 per cent of the city population has access to green or blue public spaces within a 15-minute walk or bike ride by 2030.
Study after study shows equitable access to urban nature is beneficial for both people and the environment; and helps cities to adapt and respond to the current and future impacts of climate change.
In Medellin, temperatures have reduced by two degrees Celsius as a result of planting more than 10,000 trees for the city’s Green Corridors project.
A study in Toronto 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 seven years younger.
As greenhouse gas emissions temperatures and sea levels all continue to rise globally, it has never been more urgent to accelerate efforts to bring nature into cities.
By 2050, over 570 cities will be vulnerable to sea-level rise, over 500 cities will be vulnerable to water availability, and over 970 cities will be vulnerable to extreme heat.
“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.
“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.”
Aaditya Uddhav Thackeray, Maharashtra’s Minister for Environment and Climate Change, said, “Climate change is the greatest inequity — the ones least responsible are most affected.
“I am certain that Mumbai will be a shining example of how diverse ecosystems can thrive in urban environments to achieve inclusive climate resilience for all.”
C40 mayors have been leading the charge towards a green and just recovery from the pandemic.