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Urban trees and forests

Trees in Cities Challenge

Launched in 2019, the Trees in Cities Challenge invites Mayors and local governments to make a tree planting pledge to support greener, more sustainable and more climate resilient cities. The Informal Network of Experts on Sustainable Urban Forestry was launched in 2021 to provide a forum for knowledge exchange and capacity-building as well as peer to peer learning to strengthen sustainable urban forestry practices.

For the first time in human history, over half of the world’s population lives in cities. If current projections turn out accurate, by 2050, two-thirds of all humanity will be living in urban areas. Cities are responsible for an estimated 75% of all carbon dioxide emissions globally and are particularly vulnerable to climate change. Inland and coastal flooding, heat stress, extreme precipitation, droughts, water scarcity, and increased air pollution are just some of the expected impacts of climate change in urban areas.

Climate risks are unevenly distributed, both within and between cities. Cities with crumbling infrastructure, urban sprawl, inadequate housing regulations and supply and groups and communities inhabiting informal settlements, are in particularly high risk.  Building urban resilience to climate change is a complex, multi-stakeholder driven process, and is often constrained by the lack of resources.

In this context, nature-based solutions represent as a cost-effective, accessible, and scalable efforts to simultaneously reduce carbon footprint of cities and increase their resilience against climate-related hazards. Urban and peri-urban trees and forests are one such solution. 

Undertaking strategic, tailored and ambitious tree-planting and strengthening capacities for sustainable management of urban forests is a palpable way for local governments to contribute to national and international efforts to meet the targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and built urban resilience. As we enter the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, this is the perfect moment for city governments to step in and support climate action globally.  

Learn more about our work on urban trees and forests here.

Trees in Cities Challenge
Watch the Trees in Cities Challenge Video