The loss of nature and biodiversity through urbanization and climate change bears heavy consequences for cities and the well-being of their residents. Most prominently shown by disasters such as floods, heat waves or smog, and its consequences which oftentimes are most heavily felt by low-income and marginalized communities. Together, we want to explore how working with nature within and around cities can protect vulnerable urban residents from climate change impacts and disasters, improve their quality of life, and reduce the impacts of cities on other valuable systems.  
This session is co-organized by GIZ and ICLEI and will showcase projects and initiatives that combine nature-based solutions (NbS) to improve living conditions, especially for low-income urban communities. We will explore practical approaches on how NbS can benefit and be implemented in urban development processes. Further the session will demonstrate how informal dwellers and communities living in poverty can be integrated into NbS projects in an equitable and just manner. 
The session is part of a Peer Learning series hosted by GIZ – on behalf of BMZ – and Cities Alliance to strengthen local actors in their ability to act for socially just and climate-friendly urban transformation. The series will create a roadmap towards the World Urban Forum in November 2024 and discuss how we can engage subnational governments more closely in the implementation of global development and climate agendas. Each session will feature practical approaches to just and sustainable urban planning, construction, and financing, with a focus on informal areas. Together with our partners from ICLEI, UN-Habitat, Slum Dwellers International, the Centre for Affordable Housing Finance in Africa, the African Union for Housing Finance, and the City Diplomacy Lab, we have planned five events across 2024. Click here to see the past and future events.

Keynote: Anna Heringer, Architect 


  • Jaqueline Mueni Katu, Senior Environment Officer, County Government of Kisumu
  • Ashali Bhandari, Managing Director, People’s Urban Living Lab, Transitions Research
  • Julie Greenwalt, Senior Climate Advisor, Cities Alliance

Moderator: Lorenzo Kihlgren Grandi, Founding Director, City Diplomacy Lab 


Speaker Profiles


Anna Heringer

Anna Heringer is a German architect focusing on the use of natural building materials. She is also an honorary professor of the UNESCO Chair of Earthen Architecture, Building Cultures, and Sustainable Development. For her, architecture is a tool to improve lives, trusting in existing, readily available resources instead of getting dependent on external systems. She has been actively involved in development cooperation in Bangladesh since 1997 and over the years has realized further projects in Asia, Africa, and Europe. She taught and teaches at various universities, including University of Liechtenstein, ETH Zurich, TU Munich and GSD/Harvard. Anna Heringer’s work has been widely recognised by numerous honors and exhibitions.

Jacqueline Mueni Katu

Jacqueline Mueni Katu is a Senior Environment Officer with the County Government of Kisumu Kenya.  She has significant experience in integrating NbS into land use planning and had been involved in the Urban Natural Assets project that ICLEI Africa implemented in Kisumu city and county a few years ago and it was focused on revitalising urban natural assets and integrating NbS into land use planning for increased resilience. Now she is working with ICLEI on UNEP’s Generation Restoration project aiming to restore urban ecosystems.


Ashali Bhandari

Ashali Bhandari is the Managing Director for Transitions Research’s People’s Urban Living Lab (PULL). Her work focuses on accelerating inclusive and transformative climate action in India’s mid-sized, rapidly growing cities. In the past, she has pursued her interest in the intersectionality of climate change, women’s access to urban spaces and informal livelihoods through her work in cities in India and Bangladesh. She has a Master’s degree in City and Regional Planning from the School of Design at the University of Pennsylvania and a Bachelor’s degree in Geography from Middlebury College.  
At PULL, she has recently worked on a Policy Lab on integrating equity and reframing urban NbS in South Asian cities and can share insights on their work on NbS that are aligned with local and community needs.


Julie Greenwalt

Julie Greenwalt is the Senior Climate Advisor at the Cities Alliance Secretariat (UNOPS), where she is responsible for leading the strategic direction of the organization's work on climate change, with a focus on informality and resilience. She has vast experience working on sustainable development with a focus on climate change, sustainable land use and urban development in Africa and the Middle East. She holds an M.S. in Urban Planning from Columbia University and a B.A. in International Relations, Spanish and Philosophy from Tulane University.   
On NbS for adaptation, she was lead author of the UN-Habitat strategy paper NbS to build Climate Resilience in Informal Areas, co-authored two publications on NbS and National Adaptation Plans for IISD and was the co-chair for the Global Environmental Outlook (GEO) for Cities – Towards Green and Just Cities


Lorenzo Kihlgren Grandi 

Dr Lorenzo Kihlgren Grandi is the founding director of the City Diplomacy Lab. He holds a dual PhD in Political Theory and is a lecturer in City Diplomacy at Columbia Undergraduate Global Engagement, Sciences Po–PSIA, and École Polytechnique in Paris. His primary expertise and research interests are in the international action of cities and their multilateral response to global challenges, such as sustainable development, migration, and digital transition. 
The City Diplomacy Lab is an alliance between scholars and practitioners of cities’ international action and aims to expand the theoretical and practical understanding of city diplomacy and advise its evolution. The Lab has vast experience in training city officials and facilitating dialogue with city diplomacy practitioners and audiences from every region of the world.