The following article first appeared in The Cornerstone Journal of Sustainable Finance & Banking.

By Maria Damanaki, Global Managing Director for Oceans at The Nature Conservancy

Today, half of the world’s people live in cities. By 2050, three out of four people will be urban citizens. This reality makes smart urban development one of our biggest opportunities for a more resilient, sustainable future — a future where people and nature are connected and thriving together.

To be successful, we have to do a significantly better job of investing in innovative solutions in our natural environment. This is an all-handson-deck moment for engineers, urban planners, community leaders, ecologists and investors.

Perhaps the biggest opportunity lies in our growing coastal cities. Consider that in 2011, of the 23 “megacities” worldwide (metropolitan areas with populations exceeding 10 million people), 16 were already in coastal areas. And, this trend is only increasing. Just this month, scientists from Texas A&M released a new study that estimates a more than 200 percent increase in the amount of urban land within coastal zones by 2030, and a doubling of urban exposure to coastal flooding.

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