Event: Making smart cities smarter: Nature-based solutions for climate resilience

A/Prof Timon McPhearson from Urban Systems Lab, New York, will present on opportunities for making smart cities more sustainable through the design and implementation of nature-based solutions. This will be followed by questions from the audience and a 1-hour expert panel represented by members of the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE), Finnish Environment Ministry and globally recognised scholars on nature-based solutions.

We invite researchers, policy makers and the general public to attend Think Corner (Yliopistonkatu 4, Helsinki) event organised by the Helsinki Institute of Sustainability Science (HELSUS) in partnership with the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) on Wednesday 12th June 2019, 1600-1800.

Here panel members and the audience will engage in enlightening discussions about the challenges and opportunities for combining smart city and nature city agendas in Finland to promote climate resilience. The event will be chaired by Christopher Raymond, HELSUS Professor and leader of the Social Values for Sustainability research group.


We live on an urban planet. Our cities are complicated, complex, connected, contested, and congested. Creating conditions for social, ecological, and infrastructural resilience to climate change is one of the key challenges of the 21st century. In the context of changing climate, rapidly expanding urbanization, and intersecting global drivers of rapid change, transforming towards sustainability and resilience is the great urban (and global) challenge. Smart cities agendas focus on technological solutions, and rightly so, but can we make cities smarter by including nature?

Nature-based solutions are an important tool for building resilience and adaptation to impacts of climate change including extreme events. They are also important for addressing critical issues of social inequality in access to the resilience benefits that urban nature can deliver. New York City provides an important backdrop for examining how nature-based solutions in Helsinki can be tools for climate resilience, but also need to be examined from a critical equity lens to improve social justice and urban livability with inclusive benefits for all.

About A/Prof Timon McPhearson

Dr. Timon McPhearson is Director of the Urban Systems Lab and Associate Professor of Urban Ecology at The New School in New York City. He is a Senior Research Fellow at The Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies and Associate Research Fellow at Stockholm Resilience Centre. He is also and IPCC Lead Author focusing on urban adaptation pathways in cities. In 2019 he was awarded the Sustainability Science Award and the Innovation in Sustainability Science Award by the Ecological Society of America. He is published widely in scientific journals (e.g. Nature, Nature Climate Change, Nature Sustainability, BioScience), books (e.g. Urban Planet), popular press (The Nature of Cities), and in the press including The New York Times, The Guardian, The Nation, New York Times Magazine, CityLab, Urban Omnibus, and more.

About the Panel Members

SYKE Panel Member: Senior Researcher, Dr Riikka Paloniemi, head of unit of behavioral change at the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE). Riikka has worked with several EU and national scale projects and her research is focused to environmental policy, justice and governance issues.

Finnish Environment Ministry Panel Member: Antti Irjala is an Environment Counsellor at the Regions and Communities Unit, Ministry of Environment. He specializes in how to mitigate climate change as part of land-use planning and management.

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