Skip to main content

Using urban Nature based Solutions (NBS) to promote adaptation to climate change in cities: establishing baseline and customization

The IPCC, New Urban Agenda and the follow up of the Paris Climate Agreement all advocate the application of Nature based Solutions (NbS) for reducing risk and creating livable urban environments. NbS have the potential to ameliorate impacts of climate change in urban areas, such as flooding, heat stress and water scarcity.

Christian Barthelt



Wednesday, June 29, 2022


Urban Expo: Urban Library room
Munich Re Foundation and UNU-EHS
Greener Urban Futures
UL 11


Effective application of NbS in urban areas depends on multiple factors: feasibility, near and long-term cost-benefits, enabling conditions, implementation across scales and administrative boundaries, participatory engagement and co-design to name a few. Despite such optimism, the application of NbS in the urban context often lags behind competing gray and solely engineering based solutions. One of the key challenges in ensuring effective implementation is the lack of common understanding of NbS and their benefits, tradeoffs and tangible pathways to implement and monitor such solutions. A growing focus on adaptation to climate change particularly in the small and medium cities of the global south means that many local bodies that already have stretched capacities, are increasingly being additionally asked to address NbS in their local policies and projects. This entails understanding, quantifying and measuring the challenges as well as likely benefits from NbS vis-à-vis other alternatives. To do so, a clearer understanding of the baseline related to NbS specific to local contexts is needed. This takes additional significance when seen from the adaptation finance perspective; without clear assessment of the local context and quantification of likely benefits, many local bodies may be deprived from much needed sources of climate funding. In this urban library event, we would like to share our recent policy publication from the ‘People’s pathways to climate action – Nature based Solutions and urban vulnerability’ project which underlines the process of establishing a baseline for the effective implementation of NbS in urban areas along while presenting a detailed understanding of opportunities, barriers and enablers of NbS. Looking through the lenses of four hazards (urban heat and drought, heavy rain, coastal flooding/ sea level rise and riverine flood), we would like to share what a hazard specific baseline can look like, which sort of data is needed to prepare such baselines, how that data can be gathered and which sort of challenges are expected in such an exercise. We hope that by showcasing this ‘hands-on’ approach to establish baselines for NbS, local actors, particularly the decision making and urban management bodies will be inspired to engage in their own similar exercises. The climate crisis has a very strong local dimension and enabling cities (and related stakeholders) to make scientifically informed forward looking solutions can foster their quest to have better access to emerging funding streams and more importantly have comprehensive approaches leading to transformative climate actions.


This session has following key objectives:

• Creating awareness regarding the need for science based local level adaptation plans and actions.

• Knowledge sharing regarding baseline formulation from hazard specific point of view.

• Presenting data needed and likely challenges in doing so.

• Showcasing pathways to formulate scientifically informed local climate actions.

• Inspiring local actors, particularly the decision makers to engage with global adaptation mechanisms and transpire transformative adaptation.

Session speakers

Ms. Simone Sandholz
Head, Urban Futures and Sustainability Transformation (FAST) Programme
United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS)
Ms. Katharina Rochell
Urban Development Specialist
UN-Habitat (United Nations Human Settlements Programme)
Ms. Padmi Ranasinghe
Doctoral Researcher
University of Texas at Arlington, USA
Mr. Himanshu Shekar
Associate Academic Officer
United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS)