Past Program


By 2050, over 75% of the world’s population will live in towns and cities. The equitable and sustainable design of urban environments will be fundamental in determining the state of the planet and the health of societies that we bequeath to future generations.

Since 2015, the Parks for the Planet Forum has forged a unique network committed to transformative leadership and action for health, nature and cities. The 2019 program catalyzed cross-sector understanding, shared agendas, and financial innovation for this purpose. It aimed to encourage policies, investments and partnerships to mainstream nature-rich areas, access to green space and healthy building design in and around cities as a critical contribution to human and planetary health.

The way we live, and our quality of life, are directly shaped by our environment. Design and investment for cities have far-reaching implications for billions. Today’s decisions on housing, technology, transport, and access to green space affect people’s health and well-being, the dynamics of communities and economies, and cities’ capacity to address the challenges of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

All cities are intertwined with broader landscapes and seascapes. Many depend on protected areas and natural habitats for essential ecosystem services, including water supply and protection against natural disasters. Parks, protected areas, and green and blue infrastructure in and around urban areas provide major nature-based solutions for public health, climate change, and urban resilience, and can become cost-effective multipliers to achieve the SDGs.

Investors, sovereign wealth funds, real estate companies and the insurance and reinsurance industries will play a pivotal role in determining the level of priority given to health, nature and sustainability in urban development worldwide. Extraordinary potential could be unlocked by bringing key stakeholders from these sectors together with leaders in urban health, conservation, and new movements promoting more inclusive visions for cities of the future. 

Target Audience and Collaboration

The program brought together a group of 50 participants, combining thought leaders, innovators and policymakers from different regions and sectors with investors, and portfolio managers. It helped foster meaningful and ongoing relationships between stakeholders with different perceptions of urban health and well-being, and the role that nature can play in delivering multiple benefits for urban populations. 

Participants were drawn from the public, private and civil society sectors and included policymakers, conservationists, green building experts, investors, entrepreneurs, architects, engineers, designers, artists, media and academics.

Session Format

The residential program took place in the retreat-like setting of Schloss Leopoldskron, which facilitates trust, networking and in-depth conversations. The highly interactive program was structured around a mix of thought-provoking presentations, curated conversations, informal interactions, knowledge exchange, practical group work and innovation prototyping.  

The process sought to combine theory, policy and practice across sectoral silos, opening up new perspectives and intensive learning opportunities. Participants worked intensively in focus groups, allowing for intense explorations of specific aspects of the general themes before returning to the plenary to refine conclusions.

Key Questions

  • Which cities are shaping national responses to the Sustainable Development Goals and how are they achieving this?
  • What new kinds of partnership are needed or are emerging to raise awareness of the role that parks and protected areas play in ensuring the health and well-being of urban populations?
  • What is the current base line for ‘urban-green’ finance and investment, what is it overall urban investment and what are the challenges to wider take-up?
  • What should the institutional investor community be prioritizing in terms of health and well-being?
  • Where is the financial and investment leadership in healthier building design and better city planning coming from?
  • What concrete opportunities are there to amplify new approaches for the finance/investment sectors that can complement conservation-focused global meetings?

Program Goals

  • To develop understanding, awareness and shared agendas around the crucial role and benefits of nature for urban communities and encourage policies, investments and partnerships to mainstream nature-rich areas, access to green space and healthy building design in and around cities as a critical component of urban health and resilience.
  • To raise awareness and develop shared understanding across different sectors of the ways in which parks, protected areas and other nature-rich spaces in and around cities can provide major nature-based solutions to challenges of public health, climate change, and urban resilience.
  • To create a set of Salzburg Principles / or Salzburg Statement that could guide future engagement for those working on the social and economic determinants of health from a built environment or parks perspective
  • Share learning from the program through dynamic reporting (blogs, newsletters, a substantive report) with a broad, international group of stakeholders, and with the help of a media partner
  • Ultimately to contribute to the development of a set of evidence-based arguments through atypical coalitions that will promote major cross-sectoral change in policies, practice and financial closer alignment across a range of other conferences and convening opportunities to allow for the development of new thinking in this space throughout 2019.

Multi-Year Series

The Parks for the Planet Forum is a ten-year collaboration to reconnect people and nature in an urbanized world. Launched in 2015, it aims to improve human and societal well-being by expanding access to nature-rich urban spaces, increasing investments in urban conservation, and creating dynamic partnerships between people, cities, and protected area systems.


Wilson John Barbon
Myanmar Country Program Coordinator, International Institute of Rural Reconstruction, Myanmar
Alison Barnes
Trustee, National Park City Foundation, United Kingdom
Jonathan Bell
Director for Being Human Initiative, National Geographic Society, USA
Ioana Biris
Co-Owner, Nature Desks, Netherlands
Timothy Blatch
Professional Officer of Urban Development in ICLEI: Local Governments for Sustainability's Cities Biodiversity Center and the Global Program Coordinator for CitiesWithNature, South Africa
Subindra Bogati
Founder & CEO, Nepal Peacebuilding Initiative, Nepal
Kate Christen
Senior Manager, Smithsonian Conservation Commons, USA
Ingrid Coetzee
Senior Programme Manager of ICLEI's Cities Biodiversity Centre (CBC) and Senior Manager for Biodiversity and Nature-based Solutions at ICLEI-Africa, South Africa
Bernie Djonoputro
Partner and Executive Director at Deloitte South East Asia, Infrastructure & Capital Projects, Indonesia
Hisham El-Zayat
Senior Lecturer in the Institute of Graduate Studies and Research, Alexandria University, Egypt
Assaf Frances
Director of Urban Policy, Zencity, Israel
Russell Galt
Russell Galt, Director, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Urban Alliance, United Kingdom
Dolly Govender
Deputy Mayor, KwaDukuza Municipality, South Africa
Daniele Guglielmino
Senior Sustainability Specialist - Cities & Communities, Green Business Certification Inc., Italy
Angela Hof
Associate Professor, Department of Geography & Geology, University of Salzburg, Austria
Alex Hooker
Senior Program Officer at the Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation in San Francisco, California, USA
Keshav Jha
Assistant Manager (Energy & Climate), ICLEI South Asia, India
Eva Kail
Gender Expert in the Executive Group for Construction and Technology - Competence Centre Overall Urban Planning, Smart City Strategy, Participation, Gender Planning, City of Vienna, Austria
Vincent De Paul Kayanja
Mayor Entebbe Municipal Council and Chairman Lake Victoria Regional Local Authorities and Counties Cooperation, Uganda
Masumi Kikkawa
Project Manager, Ishi Planning & Design Co., Japan
Hirotaka Koike
Policy Researcher, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Japan
Barbara Kuss
Executive Director, Huerta Niño Foundation, Argentina
Sung-gil Lee
Researcher, Institute of Environment and Ecology, Korea University, Republic of Korea
Leticia Lozano
Co-Founder and Director, MACIA Estudio, Mexico
Duncan Mackay
Principal Adviser, Urban and Peri-Urban Environments, Government Advice Team, Natural England, United Kingdom
Liteboho Makhele
Program Manager of Sustainable Cities at the South African Cities Network, South Africa
Brian Mandell
Division Director of Curriculum & Communications, Smithsonian Institution, USA
Shirley Mathebula
Deputy Municipal Manager, City of uMhalthuze, South Africa
Maria Mejia
Sustainability Practitioner, Colombia
Jayne Miller
Chair, World Urban Parks; President & CEO, Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, PA, USA
Jenia Mukherjee
Assistant Professor, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, India
Catherine Nagel
Executive Director of City Parks Alliance, USA
Andrea Oyuela
Architect and Urban Planner, Honduras
Itai Palti
Founder & Director, Hume, The Centre for Conscious Design, United Kingdom
Jin Su Park
Consultant, Eco&Partners, Republic of Korea
Chris Purifoy
Chief Architect and CEO, Learning Economy, USA
Daniel Raven-Ellison
Founder & Campaigner, Greater London National Park City, United Kingdom
Ana Rold
CEO and Publisher, Diplomatic Courier, USA
Moitreyee Sinha
CEO and Founder, citiesRISE, USA
Jackson Smith
Co-Founder & CTO, Learning Economy, USA
Esra Suel
Health Data Research Fellow, School of Public Health, Imperial College London, United Kingdom
Fimence Tan
Student, Hong Kong Univeristy of Science and Technology, China
Matthew Trowbridge
Associate Professor, University of Virginia School of Medicine, USA
Togo Uchida
Director, ICLEI Japan, Japan
Darlene Upton
Vice-President, Parks Canada, Canada
Jenny Wood
Research Associate, Herio-Watt University, United Kingdom
Michiko Yoneda
Assistant Manager, International Environmental Strategies Division of the City of Kitakyushu, Japan
Raphael Zikhali
Senior Councillor, Umhlathuze Municipality, South Africa



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