Partnerships for Urban Wellbeing and Resilience: Harnessing Nature and Protected Areas for the Sustainable Development Goals

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May 30, 2019
by Martin Silva Rey
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Partnerships for Urban Wellbeing and Resilience: Harnessing Nature and Protected Areas for the Sustainable Development Goals

Latest program of the Parks for the Planet Forum explores the role of nature and protected areas in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Shanghai, China - Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash

By 2050, more than 75% of the world’s population will live in towns and cities. The equitable and sustainable design of cities across the globe will make the difference – what planet do we want to bequeath to the future generations? Their health is in our hands, as much as our own is. 

All cities are intertwined with broader landscapes and seascapes. Many depend on protected areas and natural habitats for essential services like 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. They can become one of the keys to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Investors, sovereign wealth funds, real estate companies, 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. 

The Salzburg Global Seminar program, Partnerships for Urban Wellbeing and Resilience: Harnessing Nature and Protected Areas for the Sustainable Development Goals, will discuss the impact of parks and protected areas in the present and future of our cities and the planet, as well as what can be done to make the most of these green and blue spaces.

From May 30 to June 4, thought leaders, innovators, and policymakers from different regions and sectors, along with investors, real estate companies, and portfolio managers, will convene at Schloss Leopoldskron in Salzburg, Austria.     

Which cities are shaping national responses to the SDGs, and how are they achieving this? What are the needed partnerships to raise awareness of the role parks and protected areas in the well-being of citizens? What is the current baseline for “urban-green” finance and investment? These are some of the questions to be debated by the 50 participants across a mix of thought-provoking presentations, curated conversations, informal interactions, knowledge exchange, practical group work, and innovation prototyping.

This program is part of the Parks for the Planet Forum, a 10-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.

“As an ever greater percentage of the world’s population live in cities, the responsibility for different levels of public and private sector leadership to transform the relationship their cities have with the natural world grows ever more important,” said program director Dominic Regester. “This program will help develop understanding, awareness and shared agendas around the crucial role and benefits of nature for urban communities and encourage policies, investments, and partnerships that can create a stronger future relationship between cities and the natural world.”


The Salzburg Global Seminar program, Partnerships for Urban Wellbeing and Resilience: Harnessing Nature and Protected Areas for the Sustainable Development Goals, is part of the Parks for the Planet Forum. This program is supported by Future Cities Forum, ICLEI CBC, IUCN Urban Alliance, Learning Economy, National Park City Foundation, The Centre for Conscious Design, World Urban Parks, and 21st Century Trust.