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Green Cities in Drylands: The role of green cities in addressing climate change impacts and supporting urban climate resilience in drylands

Want to learn more about urban forestry in drylands? Want to learn more about the links between urban forestry and SDGs? Want to hear more about activities that FAO and UN Habitat are developing to assist dryland cities to become greener, healthier and happier places? Join us on 28 June at 12:30!

Simone Borelli



Tuesday, June 28, 2022


Multifunction Hall: SDGs in Action area
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Greener Urban Futures


Home to about 2 billion people, 90 percent of them in developing countries, drylands host just 1 percent of the world’s built-up land, but have 35 percent of its largest cities. Scarce rainfall and water supplies compound the negative impacts of rapid urbanization on drylands, leading to overexploitation of limited resources, increased land degradation and greater fragility for urban communities. Persistent droughts, flooding, food insecurity, conflicts over dwindling natural resources, and degraded landscapes are pushing people to cities in search of livelihoods and basic services, fuelling unplanned rapid urban growth and informal settlements. The informal nature of these areas is leaving the inhabitants more vulnerable to climate shocks, while the settlements themselves create further environmental pressures on water and waste management systems and natural resources such as wood and water resources. Low awareness of these damaging processes and a limited understanding of the opportunities in the “green economy” are additional challenges. Several initiatives have been launched to respond to these challenges. The Great Green Wall (GGW) of Africa and the Sahel that was initiated in 2007 by 11 sub-Saharan countries and is now being relaunched through a new priority investment 2021-2030 plan. More recently, the Saudi and Middle East Green Initiatives launched in 2021, aims among other things, to restore 240 million hectares of degraded land in Saudi Arabia and across the Middle East. In this framework, cities are increasingly recognized as important drivers for environmental degradation but also as promotors of innovative approaches that protect urban areas from climate impacts, improve the health and wellbeing of citizens and develop green economy, thus contributing to the achievement of the objectives of SDG 11, SDG 13, and SDG 15, as well as SDG 3 and SDG 12. This event will bring together actors who are interested in how cities address climate change impacts and supporting urban climate resilience in drylands, and it will serve as a “kick-off” session for three projects currently being developed by FAO and UN-HABITAT i.e.: “Green Urban Oases", "Green cities for the Great Green Wall” and “Greening Bahrain.” The projects have different entry points, but they all focus on increasing resilience and people’s health and wellbeing through urban forests, nature-based solutions, green infrastructure, circular economy, and enhanced rural-urban linkages, through capacity building, awareness raising and promotion of a green economy. During the event, partners will introduce concepts and ideas on how these projects could accelerate the achievement of SDG 11, as well as SDG 13 and SDG 15. Panelists will share lessons learned, approaches and capacity building activities that can strengthen the role of cities, and participants will share insights in an interactive Q&A session.


To bring together potential partners interested in ways to increase the resilience of cities in drylands to exchange and compile ideas and experiences on the achievement of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). To increase the awareness and generate interest on the proposed FAO-Un-Habitat joint projects. To share innovative technologies, approaches and capacity building activities from partners and participants that can strengthen the role of cities in building climate resilience. To advance a broad understanding of the role of green areas in and around secondary cities in combating desertification and building climate resilience in drylands. To underline the opportunities of these initiatives for green jobs creation and economic development of intermediate cities and their inhabitants.

Session speakers

Ms. Salamata Souley
City of Kollo
Ms Shawqia Humaidan
Assistant Undersecretary for Municipal Services
Ministry of Works, Municipality Affairs and Urban Planning
Ms. Uranbaigal Gongor
Monitoring Department, Urban Planning Institute, Ulaanbaatar
Ms. Mathias Spaliviero
UN Habitat
Mr. Simone Borelli
Mr Fabio Salbitano
University of Florence