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Urban InVEST: Designing resilient cities by nature

Urban InVEST

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The Platform
Urban InVEST is a data and modeling platform that provides information and analytics to developers, lenders, municipal governments, consultants, and advocacy groups. Urban InVEST features spatially explicit biophysical and socio-economic models that enable users to quantify and map the impacts of alternative urban designs on multiple urban ecosystem services (e.g., urban water management, heat island mitigation, mental health benefits), showing the benefits and costs to communities by socioeconomic status and vulnerability.

Building on Success
Urban InVEST builds on the Natural Capital Project’s existing free and open-source Integrated Valuation of Ecosystem Services and Tradeoffs (InVEST) platform. InVEST is used in planning by governments worldwide, with users in over 185 countries.

The Demand
The demand for Urban InVEST is high and growing rapidly, motivated by an urgent need to mitigate risks from climate change, pollution, and unplanned development. Cities are looking to nature-based solutions to address these challenges, but leaders lack tools and approaches that integrate urban ecosystem services in city design and spatial planning. The demand for Urban InVEST is coming from:

  • city leaders interested in evaluating alternative urban growth scenarios
  • advocates for greater investments in parks and open space
  • municipal governments seeking to plan green infrastructure and its co-benefits
  • multi-lateral development banks interested in making more strategic and resilient loans


Early Development
We are partnering with municipal governments and city leaders across the United States and in Asia-Pacific to co-develop Urban InVEST. The first applications are supporting urban ecological assessments in major Chinese cities (including Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Dalian, Guangzhou) and the evaluation of co-benefits of green infrastructure in Paris, France, and multiple US cities, including Minneapolis-St Paul and the San Francisco Bay Area. Our recent paper introduces Urban InVEST and describes its application in three case studies (Shenzhen, China; Paris, France; and Minneapolis, USA).
 

The Models
To date, NatCap has released Urban Cooling, Urban Flood Risk Mitigation, Urban Nature Access and Urban Stormwater Retention.

Some models in the original InVEST suite are applicable to urban systems. These include: pollination, climate change mitigation (carbon storage and sequestration), scenic quality, coastal hazard protection, habitat quality, habitat risk assessment, and recreation.

Our US-based team is working on models for mental health and physical activity and on urban biodiversity. Our China-based team is also working on models for noise attenuation and air pollution mitigation.

Contact: Anne Guerry, Livable Cities Lead (anne.guerry@stanford.edu)

InVEST logo, TM
Learn more and download InVEST