BiodiverCities by 2030 Report: Transforming Cities' Relationship with Nature

We live in an “urban era”. Cities account for 80% of global GDP and will host 75% of the world’s population by 2050. However, the exponential growth in our global built environment has undermined nature’s critical contributions to our societies and economies. Rapid urban expansion has rendered business-as-usual unfeasible, with an estimated 44% of global GDP that is generated in cities to be at risk of disruption from nature loss. With the majority of future urban expansion forecast in the world’s most biodiverse regions, cities must act now to rebalance their relationship with nature.

AlphaBeta is proud to have supported the World Economic Forum and the Alexander von Humboldt Institute in developing a report that articulates a new vision for cities: BiodiverCities by 2030. BiodiverCities reimagines cities as “living systems”, with their economic, social and ecological functions in harmony. BiodiverCities have five characteristics guiding nature-positive actions on infrastructure, governance, economy, health and wellbeing, and links with local ecosystems.

Key to reducing cities’ impact on nature is shifting investment to nature-based solutions (NbS) for infrastructure, through which cities can build a climate-resilient built environment while lessening their impact on biodiversity. NbS are, on average, 50% more cost-effective than “grey”, human-engineered alternatives and deliver 28% more added value, yet they received just 0.3% of overall spending on urban infrastructure in 2021. Expanding nature in the urban environment creates significant economic and social value. Spending $583 billion on NbS for infrastructure and on interventions that release land to nature could create more than 59 million jobs by 2030, including 21 million livelihood-enhancing jobs dedicated to restoring and protecting natural ecosystems.

Shifting to a systems approach to urban governance is one of three key conditions to cities achieving the BiodiverCities vision and capturing these opportunities. Cities must also prioritize (re)integrating pre-existing ecosystems in the urban planning process to restore nature as the backbone of their development. Finally, incentivizing investment in natural capital is the third condition for cities unlocking the benefits of nature-based infrastructure.

Below are a number of resources related to the BiodiverCities by 2030 report:

  • The full report can be accessed here.
  • Key messages can be accessed here.
  • Media coverage of the report has been significant, including on Reuters and Business Standard.
  • Learn more about the World Economic Forum’s BiodiverCities by 2030 initiative here.
  • The Future of Nature and Business report may be referred to here.
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