25 Oct 2021

Venue: Online | Webex

The Geneva Nature-based Solutions dialogues aim to facilitate further engagement and discussion among the stakeholders in International Geneva and beyond, in the lead-up to a critical year for nature and society. The dialogues are convened by the Geneva Environment Network and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

About the Dialogues

We are facing a triple planetary crisis – climate change, nature loss and pollution. In this context, Nature-based Solutions (NbS) are a powerful ally to address a societal and environmental challenges. As per IUCN definition, NbS are actions to protect, sustainably manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems that address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, simultaneously providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits.

NbS are a powerful tool to facilitate and catalyse the engagement of cross-sectoral stakeholders to join forces towards the implementation of an ambitious Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) and move towards achieving the CBD 2050 Vision of ‘Living in harmony with nature’.  NbS also offer a pathway for synergies among several multilateral environmental agreements, including for biological diversity (CBD), climate change (UNFCCC), disaster risk reduction (Sendai Framework), desertification (UNCCD) and the wider Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – and for mainstreaming nature conservation into sectoral decision-making processes.

In the lead-up to a critical year for nature and society, NbS offer an opportunity to address a wide range of urgent societal challenges. The year 2021 and the major upcoming negotiations should indeed mark a turning point towards a resilient world for future generations.

Join the Geneva Environment Network and the International Union for Conservation of Nature in a one-year journey, where experts from all over the world and different sectors will discuss throughout the year  how NbS are relevant to various debates ongoing in Geneva.


About this Session

Cities worldwide are increasingly suffering from the effects of climate-related disasters, such as floods, droughts, sea-level rise, heatwaves, landslides, and storms. Meanwhile, cities face important societal challenges, including poverty reduction and the provision of basic services, livelihoods, and accessible, affordable, and adequate housing. With more than half of the world’s population living in urban areas – a ratio projected to increase to 68% by 2050 -, developing comprehensive solutions to jointly address environmental, societal and economic challenges in cities is essential. 

In this context, Nature-based Solutions (NbS) provide a framework to address these multifaceted challenges. Within cities, NbS such as tree-covered areas along streets or parks and wetlands, can reduce the urban heat island effect and cooling needs through natural shading, manage run-off water with fewer flooding events, and improve health and well-being, both directly and through recreational opportunities. Around cities, NbS interventions can help with watershed management, recreational space, managing wildfires, improving drinking water quality, reducing, and capturing CO2 emissions, and reducing the impact of sand and dust storms.

NbS are a powerful tool to enhance resilience, support sustainable development, improve the quality of life of urban citizens and safeguard biodiversity. They also provide cost-effective approaches to urban sustainability challenges. Indeed, the co-benefits they provide in terms of public health, social cohesion, or climate change mitigation, are likely to exceed the cost of implementation and maintenance. Thus, NbS can create win-win solutions for society, the environment and the economy.

As the global community celebrates World Cities Day on 31 October, this year’s theme – “Adapting Cities for Climate Resilience” – invites us to rethink how we can reduce climate-related risks for urban populations, including through the use of NbS. Leading experts at this session will discuss the potential of NbS for sustainable urban development and resilience, and the needed future action to mainstream NbS in urban planning and policies at the city level.


By order of intervention. Additional speaker to be announced soon.

Chantal van HAM

Acting Director, European Regional Office, IUCN


Deputy Secretary General & Regional Director Africa Secretariat, ICLEI

Paola DEDA

Director, Forests, Land and Housing Division, UNECE


Sustainable Development, Head of Nature, HOLCIM


Programme Management Officer, Resources and Markets Branch, UNEP | Lead of the Sustainable Infrastructure Partnership

Helen DING

Senior Environmental Economist, WRI Center of Excellence in Economics | Head, WRI Circular Economy Knowledge Hub

Rodrigo RAVENA

Chief of Staff, Municipal Secretariat of Green and Environment, São Paulo City

Bongani MNISI

Manager, Environmental Planning & Sustainability, City of Cape Town


Senior research analyst, PlanAdapt

NbS Champion

Special guest to be announced during the event. Stay tuned!


Welcome and Introduction

  • Setting the Scene | Chantal Van Ham, IUCN

First Panel – Multi-disciplinary and multi-scale partnerships in cities

  • Working with Cities to Implement NbS Towards a Cohesive Urban Society | Kobie Brand, ICLEI
  • Sustainable Urban Forestry and the Potential of Trees as NbS in Cities | Paola Deda, UNECE
  • Challenges and Opportunities of NbS in Cities from a Business Perspective | Renata Pollini, Holcim
  • Meeting the SDGs and Climate Goals through Sustainable and Resilient Infrastructure | Rowan Palmer, UNEP
  • Nature-based Solutions, a Successful Ingredient for Urban Sustainability Agendas | Chantal Van Ham, IUCN

Second Panel – Nature-based Solutions for cities in action

  • Creating Sponge Cities with Nature-based Solutions | Helen Ding, WRI
  • Integrating Conservation and Biodiversity into City Development for Economic Recovery and Social Inclusion | Rodrigo Ravena, São Paulo City
  • Protecting Natural Assets and Promoting Green Infrastructure for Urban Well-being and Resilience | Bongani Mnisi, City of Cape Town
  • The Potential of Ecosystem-based Adaptation for Climate Justice in Urban Areas | Mariana Vidal Merino, PlanAdapt

Championing NbS – Video message from a surprise guest





The event will take place online. Kindly register directly on the Webex platform.


In addition to the live WebEx and Facebook transmissions, the video will be available on this webpage.



The update on Nature-based Solutions provides relevant information and the most recent resources, news and articles from the various organizations in international Geneva and other institutions around the world.