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Accelerating Nature in Our City 

Nature is abundant in its offerings. We know that healthy and thriving ecosystems provide benefits for wildlife, for human health, and multiple ecosystem services such as clean air and water. Every visitor to our public parks in Seattle can experience what nature provides every day, rain or shine. And just being in nature is one of the most valued aspects of our parks based on surveys conducted by Seattle Parks and Recreation (SPR).  

The benefits of nature also extend to helping our community adapt to climate change impacts as well.  Preserved natural areas absorb and store carbon, mitigate heat and rainstorms, and provide shade. To explore and expand this understanding and enhance our efforts to support nature in our city, Seattle joined the C40 Cities Urban Nature Accelerator international effort. This collaboration of 39 mayors across the planet aligns with our local commitment to enhance urban nature and nature-based infrastructure in our city. Through it we join a global movement to bring more nature to cities. 

Seattle signed on to both commitments for the initiative: to ensure at least 30% of our city is covered with green spaces or permeable surfaces, and to ensure equitable distribution of these parks and green spaces. Seattle is a leader in this space, already having over 30% of our land is permeable and 99% of residents have access to parks in Seattle, well above the 70% threshold for the commitment.  

Seattle is supporting these commitments in a number of ways as part of the C40 Cities Urban Nature Accelerator: 

  • Make nature goals public. Through the Parks and Open Space Plan, Comprehensive Plan, and the Urban Forest Plan, Seattle is making our goals transparent with the public we serve. 
  • Develop support programs for green jobs. Seattle’s Green New Deal Ordinance prioritizes green job creation. In addition, SPR’s Seattle Conservation Corps and the Youth Green Corps continue to provide green job pathways to formerly houseless individuals and youth. 
  • Involve vulnerable and marginalized communities. The Green New Deal Oversight Board, Indigenous Advisory Board, and project-based community engagement continue to prioritize feedback from underrepresented communities. 
  • Map climate risks and vulnerability. In 2022, SPR release a Climate Resiliency strategy that assessed vulnerabilities to climate change in our parks and recreation system and identified ways we are currently addressing them and recommendations on what more we can do. In addition, funds were recently secured to map habitat and vulnerabilities along Seattle’s coastline. 
  • Identify opportunities for new greening and existing green spaces. Seattle’s Outside Citywide program, as well as the Parks and Open Space Plan identify locations to acquire new parks that prioritize equity considerations. In addition, the Green Seattle Partnership, Tree Ordinance, and green stormwater infrastructure projects are all examples of improving existing green spaces throughout our city.  
  • Address governance barriers. Seattle departments are continuing to collaborate to expand green space access, mitigate carbon emissions, and respond to climate change impacts. The new comprehensive plan addresses multiple ways to achieve these goals, all informed by regulatory requirements and community engagement. 
  • Report annually on progress. Seattle recently submitted an update to the C40 Cities collaboration with our status on fulfilling these commitments. Read it here > 

Through these efforts, cities like Seattle aspire to become more livable, climate-ready, and crisis-prepared, fostering a harmonious relationship between urban environments and the natural world.