Urban greening. The case for ecological realignment in informal neighborhoods.

Published in June, 2021

This article is part of the Global Solutions Journal 2021 Summit Edition, published on the occasion of the Italian G20 Presidency 2021 and the Global Solutions Summit 2021.

Estimates show that more than half of the world’s population live in urban areas and more than 70% will do within 30 years, with a projection of more than 90% for less developed regions (UN, 2018). Currently approximately 1 billion people live in informal settlements (UN, 2016) on land highly exposed to the effects of climate change. This is in part due to a lack of infrastructure to prevent floods and landslides, and to mitigate the impact of heavy storms and heat waves.

According to the WHO and UN Habitat, green public spaces are neither sufficient nor equitably distributed in cities. Informal settlements and rapidly urbanized areas tend to fail to provide the amount of green public space needed.

Public spaces and green infrastructure have the potential to enhance the quality of urban life and produce substantial benefits for urban dwellers from environmental, social and economic standpoints (Mell, 2019). They are increasingly relevant in the fight against climate change and its impacts.

In this context, quality public spaces and green infrastructure elements should form an essential part of smart policies for building urban resilience in underserved urban settlements. The built environment needs not only to be resilient, but to build resilience, and green public spaces are a great way to accomplish such an endeavour, since they reduce temperatures via evapotranspiration, provide cool shade, sequester CO2 and retain storm water, among other benefits.

City governments in the Global South are working to improve informal settlements. However, upgrading programs rarely integrate climate resilience initiatives, even when there is much overlap between their goals in vulnerable urban contexts. The current investment in urban integration is an opportunity to include urban greening in the political agenda.


About the Global Solutions Initiative

The Global Solutions Initiative (GSI) is a global collaborative enterprise to envision, propose and evaluate policy responses to major global problems addressed by the G20, through ongoing exchange and dialogue with the Think 20 engagement group. The GSI is a stepping stone to the T20 and G20 Summits and supports various other G20 groups. The policy recommendations and strategic visions are generated through a disciplined research program by leading research organizations, elaborated in policy dialogues between researchers, policymakers, business leaders and civil society representatives.


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