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Global mapping of urban nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation


Many cities around the world are experimenting with nature-based solutions (NbS) to address the interconnected climate-, biodiversity- and society-related challenges they are facing (referred to as the climate–biodiversity–society, or CBS, nexus), by restoring, protecting and more sustainably managing urban ecosystems. Although the application of urban NbS is flourishing, there is little synthesized evidence clarifying the contribution of NbS in addressing the intertwined CBS challenges and their capacity to encourage transformational change in urban systems worldwide. We map and analyse NbS approaches specifically for climate change adaptation across 216 urban interventions and 130 cities worldwide. Results suggest that current NbS practices are limited in how they may comprehensively address CBS challenges, particularly by accounting for multidimensional forms of climate vulnerability, social justice, the potential for collaboration between public and private sectors and diverse cobenefits. Data suggest that knowledge and practice are biased towards the Global North, under-representing key CBS challenges in the Global South, particularly in terms of climate hazards and urban ecosystems involved. Our results also point out that further research and practice are required to leverage the transformative potential of urban NbS. We provide recommendations for each of these areas to advance the practice of NbS for transformative urban adaptation within the CBS nexus.

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Fig. 1: Geographical distribution of cities with mapped NbS for climate change adaptation.
Fig. 2: Regional distribution of ten key NbS features included in the global mapping of interventions in cities.
Fig. 3: Examples of NbS features in selected cities that use NbS for climate adaptation.
Fig. 4: Connections between regions, funding sources, actors involved and socio-economic goals among mapped NbS.
Fig. 5: Examples of urban NbS projects exemplifying different aspects of social justice studied, as well as social, ecological, and technical transformative capacity.
Fig. 6: Summary of the distribution of capacities for change of NbS mapped per city dimension and region.

Data availability

Data generated or analysed during this study are included in this published article (and its Supplementary Information) and online repositories. Information included in this published article includes the systematic mapping protocol (Supplementary Information) and the coding framework used to analyse interventions (Supplementary Data). Information available through online repositories includes the full set of coded interventions, which can be found online at This dataset was establishing from a screening of the following nine online databases: Green Climate Fund, Adaptation Fund, International Climate Initiative, World Bank Portfolio on Nature-based Solutions for Disaster Risk Reduction, ClimateADAPT, Oppla, Panorama Ecosystem-based Adaptation Solutions Database, Urban Climate Change Research Network Case Study Docking Station and Equator Initiative Nature-based Solutions Database.

Code availability

All code used for data analysis and visualization was made through existing libraries using the R programming language (v.4.0.3 10 October 2020) in RStudio (v.2022.02.3 + 492). Relevant R libraries include ggplot2 (v.3.3.5, Figs. 1, 2, 4 and 5), dplyr (v.1.0.5, Figs. 1, 2, 4 and 5) and networkD3 (v.0.4) in conjunction with webshot (v.0.5.2, Fig. 4). Figure 2 was created using adapted code under MIT License (copyright 2015–2017, ref. 69). The rvest package (v.1.0.0) was used for certain parts of the data collection through web scraping as described in the Data synthesis section. The Geographic Information System (GIS) software QGIS (v.3.10.11) was used to render Fig. 3. Fig. 5 and Supplementary Figs. 1 and 2 were prepared using Microsoft Powerpoint (Office 365).


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The project that gave rise to these results received the support of a fellowship from the ‘la Caixa’ Foundation (ID 100010434). The fellowship code is ‘LCF/BQ/DI20/11780006’ (S.G.). This research is further supported by María de Maeztu excellence accreditation 2018–2022 (ref. MDM-2017-0714), funded by MCIN/AEI/10.13039/501100011033/; and by the Basque Government through the BERC 2022–2025 programme (S.G., M.O. and U.P.).

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Authors and Affiliations



S.G., M.O., A.J.C. and U.P. were involved in conceptualization, methodology and formal analysis. S.G. and M.O. conducted the investigation. S.G. obtained resources (data collection), undertook data curation and was responsible for visualization and software. S.G. and U.P. obtained funding. S.G. wrote the original draft and S.G., M.O., A.J.C. and U.P. were involved in reviewing and editing the final manuscript.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Sean Goodwin.

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Nature Sustainability thanks Harriet Bulkeley, Janina Käyhkö and Eliakira Nassary for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Further discussion of data collection and analysis including a detailed description of data points used, with Supplementary Tables 1 and 2, Figs. 1 and 2 and references.

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Supplementary Data

Data coding framework and raw description data (used for Fig. 2).

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Goodwin, S., Olazabal, M., Castro, A.J. et al. Global mapping of urban nature-based solutions for climate change adaptation. Nat Sustain (2023).

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