4 min read

#13 - Bringing nature back into cities

#13 - Bringing nature back into cities

💡 One idea: Bringing nature back into cities

📈 One data figure: 62% of global electricity still comes from fossil fuel

One success: Monitor your climate footprint with Joro app

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💡 Bringing nature back into cities

In 1900, more than 85% of the world’s population lived in rural areas. Today about half of us are based in cities worldwide, and this proportion is projected to increase to more than two-thirds by 2050. At the same time, expanding cities have been cut off from nature across the world.

A compelling body of evidence suggests that cities are not safe places to live. Worldwide, millions of people die each year from the effects of air pollution, because cities are not flood or heatwave resilient, or simply because of stress induced by nature-deficit disorder. Go read this if you don't believe this last one: ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ Is Really a Thing.

The Bringing Nature Back movement (aka BNB) is getting stronger, and urban settings are not being spared. Indeed, more nature in cities generates a myriad of direct and indirect benefits:

  • Enhancing air and water quality
  • Cooling streets and reducing energy consumption by protecting buildings from heat
  • Reducing noise level
  • Reconnecting communities by providing outdoor space for people to meet, children to play and the elderly to sit
  • Improving resistance to flood and sea level rise
  • Protecting and restoring biodiversity
  • Increasing productivity at work and performance at school

The urban nature-based solutions expert Cecil Konijnendijk imagined a wonderful framework to achieve these results: the 3-30-300 rule. In short, you city dwellers should be able to see at least 3 trees through your windows, you should live under a 30% tree canopy cover in your neighbourhood and you should have access to a high-quality public green space at 300 metres from your house maximum. Does that work for you?

Cities around the world are brainstorming, innovating and experimenting. Two interesting networks to join or follow are C40 Cities and Biophilic Cities. Startups and urban planners are constantly conceiving new technical solutions. From vertical gardens to hard drainage pavement, here is a great source of inspiration: Urban Green UP solutions.

Because I am temporarily living in Singapore, I can't help sharing photos of the famous "city in a garden". The city’s population has boomed from 1 million in the 1960s to almost 6 million today, but green areas actually increased too and now cover almost 50% of the island.

Bringing back nature into our cities is a powerful trend that is paving the road for an entirely new market to emerge. Public decision-makers need new talents and products in various fields:

  • analysis, urban planning, and city design
  • public engagement and communication
  • implementation, maintenance and management
  • financing schemes (insurance, private capital, international finance)

Following the movement, new funds specifically target this growing industry such as the new European VC 2150 that was launched in 2021, but already has more than $300 million of AUM and invests in Climate Urban Tech, proving LPs' appetite for the sector.

📈 62% of global electricity still comes from fossil fuels

Despite growing awareness and political pledges about climate change, the share of fossil fuels in global electricity production has not changed much since 1985. As of today, roughly 62% of the global electricity supply is produced by burning fossil fuels.

Electricity production in the world (source: Our World in Data)

In the meantime, the share of nuclear power has been slowly decreasing while renewables increased significantly in the past decade. Renewables still need to accelerate further to make a dent but in 2021, the share of green electricity (28.11%) was almost three times higher than the share of nuclear power (9.93%)!

✨ Monitor your climate footprint with Joro app

How much C02 do you release into the atmosphere every day? You probably have no idea. Tracking your personal emission and taking the right actions to reduce your carbon footprint is not an easy task. This is exactly what Sanchali Pal was trying to do using an Excel spreadsheet... until she launched Joro.

By connecting their financial records to Joro, users get to know their carbon footprint, learn about what to do to reduce it and can eventually buy carbon offsets. Currently, users spend on average $30 per month on the app, including 17% of monthly subscription fees.

Joro helps you identify what you can do today

The Californian start-up just raised a promising $10 million Series A led by existing investors Sequoia Capital and Amasia. This will help the team grow but it will also support the company’s shift from helping people track their footprints to helping them take action (and spend more on the app).

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