June 2022 - You are accessing an old version of our website. The SDGs Voluntary Commitments have been migrated here: https://sdgs.un.org/partnerships

You will be redirected to the new Partnership Platform in 10 seconds.

Trees in Cities Challenge

Cities are now at the center of global efforts towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Moreover, it is increasingly recognized that cities are at the forefront of battle against climate change, at the same time being most vulnerable to its effects but also embodying the potential to counter it.

Planting more trees in urban areas holds a considerable potential to tackle some effects of climate change and contribute to the achievement of urban-related SDGs. Under auspices of the UNECE, mayors are invited to undertake a “Trees in Cities Challenge”, whereby they will pledge to plant a pre-determined number of trees in their city.

Within the UNECE, the Committee on Housing and Land Management and the Committee on Forests Industry will provide strategic and expert support to participating mayors, in line with their respective expertise. The “Trees in Cities” Challenge will be hosted by the UNECE and implemented in cooperation with local governments in beneficiary countries.

There are four main phases of the campaign: 1) Pledge. The mayor of a city formally pledges by committing to plant a pre-determined number of trees by 2020 by exchanging letters with UNECE; 2) Keep track of the progress. The mayor will realize the challenge in a timely manner and keep UNECE informed of the progress; 3) Monitor. UNECE will monitor progress and regularly update the website. This will include a “tree-meter” showing the number of planted trees and indicating measurable economic, social and environmental benefits for the city in question; 4) Report and share experience. Upon successful implementation of the initiative, UNECE will provide the beneficiary city with a progress report and invite the mayor to share their experience at a relevant UNECE forum. The campaign will initially be launched on 23 September until the end of 2020.

To honor the effort many mayors have already made, we will take into account the trees that have been planted before mayors accepted the challenge, as long as this has been done during their last mandate.

Expected impact

Expected benefits and impact on cities (methodology for measuring is still TBD) include:

- Climate change mitigation and greater urban resilience. By absorbing C02 and providing a natural way of air-cooling, trees help mitigate climate change and save energy by reducing the need for air conditioning.
- Cleaner air and the environment. Trees exchange gases with the atmosphere and capture particulates and urban pollutants.
- Healthier cities. Presence of trees in urban areas is known to have a positive effect on human health by reducing levels of stress, preventing obesity, and accelerating the recovery from illnesses.
- Improved public spaces for greater biodiversity. Trees provide shelter, food and home to animals and plants, contributing to urban biodiversity.
- Stronger communities. Increased presence of urban green areas has been shown to have a positive impact on social cohesion and help to form stronger communities.
- Increased property values. Healthy trees can increase surrounding property values by 2-10%.


In progress.

Goal 3
3.9 - By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water and soil pollution and contamination
Goal 11
11.3 - By 2030, enhance inclusive and sustainable urbanization and capacity for participatory, integrated and sustainable human settlement planning and management in all countries
11.5 - By 2030, significantly reduce the number of deaths and the number of people affected and substantially decrease the direct economic losses relative to global gross domestic product caused by disasters, including water-related disasters, with a focus on protecting the poor and people in vulnerable situations
11.7 - By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities
Goal 13
13.1 - Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries
Goal 15
15.2 - By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally
15.4 - By 2030, ensure the conservation of mountain ecosystems, including their biodiversity, in order to enhance their capacity to provide benefits that are essential for sustainable development
Goal 17
17.16 - Enhance the global partnership for sustainable development, complemented by multi-stakeholder partnerships that mobilize and share knowledge, expertise, technology and financial resources, to support the achievement of the sustainable development goals in all countries, in particular developing countries
17.17 - Encourage and promote effective public, public-private and civil society partnerships, building on the experience and resourcing strategies of partnerships

Data, monitoring and accountability
Other, please specify
Funds secured to support campaign. Mayors adhering to the initiative will invest in tree planting activities.
Basic information
Start: 23 September, 2019
Completion: 30 December, 2020
United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) (United Nations / Multilateral body)
Mayors of cities/municipalities
Initiative focused on COVID-19 pandemic response, prevention and recovery efforts
Not specified
Geographical coverage
Beneficiary countries
Other beneficiaries
Cities, urban communities
Contact information
Milica Apostolovic, Miss, milica.apostolovic@un.org, +447999404363
Geneva, Switzerland
United Nations