Why trees?

Why trees? UNECE premieres short film calling for trees in cities at the Regional Forum for Sustainable Development

Picture your favorite tree-lined street or childhood park. Now picture it without trees. Would it be the same?  

On 30 March, at the Regional Forum for Sustainable Development, UNECE debuted the short film “Why Trees?”, which invites us to reflect on our human connection with the trees around us. Through poetry, interviews and dance, the film reminds viewers that trees bring our cities to life and make them healthy, resilient places to live. 

As part of the Regional Forum side event “The city of the future is a green city: why we need trees in our cities for the SDGs” the film’s message is clear:  Trees are part of the solution. They are good for our communities, our countries and the environment.  

This call to invest in trees in cities is well-founded. Trees and forests are recognized as the nature-based solution with the most climate and mitigation and adaptation benefits in cities ( Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change). Investing in trees as a nature-based solution makes financial sense too: a study found the City of Lisbon received $4.48 in benefits for every $1 invested in tree management, with benefits that contribute to many Sustainable Development Goals.  

That trees are a “brilliant living technology” was also highlighted by renowned urban planner and architect Stefano Boeri, who stressed that “the city of the future is a biodiversity metropolis” in his keynote address. Known by many for his Vertical Forest building in Milan, Architect Boeri has issued a call for a global campaign on urban forestry.  

“We experience climate change at a human level,” said Paola Deda, Director of the UNECE Forests, Land and Housing Division. “With every flood or heat wave, we see the impact on our neighbours and neighbourhoods. I think that it is critical to show the human connection to trees as we build support for trees in cities as a solution for climate action and sustainable development. When we care for them, they care for us.” 

The film and the event showed that it is time to act with every tool we have and this includes urgent action based on careful long-term management and financial plans which in turn depend on sustained political and community support.  

UNECE supports these efforts through its Trees in Cities Challenge, which invites cities across the world to pledge to plant and sustainably manage trees in their communities. Nearly 80 cities have already pledged, a number it is hoped will grow as the film is shared globally.