Climate-Smart Cities™

Climate change affects everyone, but in cities, low-income communities often face the starkest threats. On average, low-income neighborhoods have fewer parks and green spaces to absorb stormwater, provide cooling shade, and protect homes and businesses from flooding. 

For more than 45 years, we have worked with cities to help make vulnerable communities more equitable, livable, and resilient to the effects of climate change. Through our Climate-Smart Cities program, we partner with city leaders and residents to design, fund, and build climate-smart parks and green spaces where they’re needed most.      

We help cities use parks and natural lands as “green infrastructure” serving four objectives:

Connect: Trails and transit lines provide carbon-free transportation and link residents to popular destinations and each other.

Cool: Shady green spaces reduce the urban “heat island” effect, protect people from heat waves, and reduce summer energy use.

Absorb: Water-smart parks, playgrounds, and green alleys absorb rainfall, reduce flooding, and recharge drinking water supplies while saving energy for water management.

Protect: Strategically placed shoreline parks and natural lands buffer cities from rising seas, coastal storms, and flooding.

Climate-Smart Cities in action

We’re partnered with residents and civic leaders in more than 20 municipalities, increasing local capacity to plan, fund, protect, and create parks and open space featuring climate-smart green infrastructure.  

In New York City, we’re turning asphalt schoolyards into fun and vibrant green playgrounds for the whole neighborhood to enjoy. 

In South Los Angeles, we’re helping neighbors convert abandoned alleys into green, walkable parkways. 

In New Orleans, we’re combining community-sourced data with cutting-edge mapping tools to help decision-makers determine where green infrastructure investments are needed most.   

Learn more about our Climate-Smart Cities work in: 

Metro Boston

Los Angeles

Richmond, California


New Orleans




Related Files

Climate-Smart Cities poster Download