Skip to content Skip to navigation
Photo by Elizabeth Villalta on Unsplash

When and How Will Nature Provide Urban Solutions?

When and How Will Nature Provide Urban Solutions?

October 21, 2021 - 8:00am to 9:30am (PT)
Registration closes two hours before the event.

Cities must manage multiple, interacting challenges such as climate change, air and water pollution, flooding, heat waves, affordable housing, public health, and socio-economic and environmental inequities. Nature-based solutions can help cities address many of these challenges. By reducing the risk of flooding, attenuating water, noise, and air pollution, mitigating the urban heat island effect, and providing attractive spaces that promote physical and mental health, nature-based solutions can provide diverse benefits to people in cities. But they are not a panacea — they can neither solve all problems on their own nor are they even appropriate or feasible in all locations. In this session, we will bring together academics and practitioners for a conversation about nature-based solutions in cities. We’ll first address challenges unique to urban environments and barriers that currently prevent uptake of these solutions to date. Then we will focus on opportunities to do things differently through discussion of bright spots, policy levers, and new avenues for research and practice.

Five expert panelists–from academia and practice–will be in conversation with Anne Guerry, Chief Strategy Officer & Lead Scientist at Stanford Natural Capital Project, and Eric Lonsdorf, Program Director & Lead Scientist at University of Minnesota Natural Capital Project.


Erik Andersson

Panelist: Erik Andersson, Associate Professor & Principal Researcher at Stockholm Resilience Centre

Assoc. Prof. Erik Andersson (he/him) is a principal researcher with Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University, an associate professor with North-West University in South Africa, and a research associate with the New School in New York, USA. Andersson has experience in systems and landscape ecology, geography, urban studies, landscape governance, participatory research, transdisciplinary research and process leading, review and synthesis work, climate change adaptation, action research, and design.

Todd Gartner

Panelist: Todd Gartner, Director, Cities4Forests and Natural Infrastructure at World Resources Institute

Todd Gartner (he/him) has been with WRI for 11+ years and is Director of Cities4Forests which provides technical support for 70+ cities from around the world to invest in nature within their cities, nearby watersheds, and forests in the tropics. Todd leads a multidisciplinary team to align local policies, conduct knowledge exchange, and access financing for project implementation and scaling. Through Cities4Forests, Todd helps governments, companies, and communities manage their natural resources to deliver water, climate, health, resilience, and poverty alleviation benefits.

Seema Kairam

Panelist: Seema Kairam, Design Lead at Able City in San Antonio

Seema Kairam (she/her) is an Associate and Design Lead at Able City. She is passionate about designing the built environment to improve quality of life and create access to opportunities for historically marginalized communities. She is committed to inclusive design and decision-making processes that center people and creates the foundation for long-term benefits - from light-filled educational spaces that improve learning, a cultural-responsive public realm that encourages civic engagement to well-designed housing that builds generational wealth.

Joe Kane

Panelist: Joe Kane, Fellow at the Brookings Metropolitan Policy Program

Joseph Kane’s (he/him) work focuses on a wide array of built environment issues, including transportation and water infrastructure. Within these areas of research, Kane has explored infrastructure’s central economic role across different regions as well as its relationship to opportunity and resilience. Across several projects, Kane has coordinated the production of new metrics and developed other interactive content to better inform decisions by policymakers and practitioners across the country.

Timon McPhearson

Panelist: Timon McPhearson, Associate Professor of Urban Ecology & Director of the Urban Systems Lab at The New School

Dr. Timon McPhearson (he/him) is Professor of Urban Ecology and Director of the Urban Systems Lab at The New School, Senior Research Fellow at the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and Stockholm Resilience Centre and Research Affiliate of the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics. He is an IPCC Lead Author and member of the World Economic Forum Global Commission on BiodiversCities and works on nature-based solutions for climate adaptation and resilience.