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5 Keynote Speeches in One Month: Kongjian Yu Showcases Nature-Based Solutions by Combining Chinese Traditional Wisdom with Modern Sciences to Tackle Global Climate Crisis



Kongjian Yu, a globally recognized landscape architect and urban planner, has made significant strides in the realm of climate resilience and sustainable urban development. In a series of five keynote speeches delivered between May Early to Mid-June , 2024, Yu highlighted the application of Nature-Based Solutions (NbS) by blending traditional Chinese wisdom with modern scientific principles. This report provides a detailed overview of his activities and the key concepts he promoted during these events.

**The World Around Architecture Summit**

On May 11, 2024, Kongjian Yu addressed the World Around Architecture Summit in New York City. His keynote centered on the "sponge city" principles, which enhance urban resilience to climate change by improving the capacity of urban areas to absorb and reuse rainwater. Yu emphasized the integration of natural processes into urban design to mitigate flooding and promote sustainable development. His innovative approach received widespread acclaim for its practicality and forward-thinking nature (The World Around Summit 2024).

**Vatican Climate Resilience Summit**

From May 15-17, 2024, Yu participated in the "From Climate Crisis to Climate Resilience" summit in Vatican City, organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Yu's keynote addressed the critical need to integrate natural and built environments to enhance urban resilience. He presented his "sponge planet" concepts, which use natural landscapes to manage water resources effectively. This approach was lauded for its practicality and effectiveness in mitigating climate-induced stresses such as flooding and heatwaves (Vatican News 2024; Pontifical Academy of Sciences 2024).

**NbS Summit in Porto**

At the Nature-Based Solutions (NbS) Summit held in Porto, Portugal, from May 23-24, 2024, Yu emphasized the role of nature-based solutions in sustainable urban development. His presentation on "sponge cities" underscored the need for urban planning that incorporates natural processes to mitigate environmental issues like flooding and urban heat islands. His visionary approach to blending urban development with ecological preservation was well-received by the attendees (World Green Infrastructure Network 2024; Porto Protocol 2024; Greenroofs.com 2024).

**BlueTech Summit in Edinburgh**

On June 5, 2024, Yu addressed the BlueTech Summit in Edinburgh, Scotland, focusing on innovative water management strategies. His keynote highlighted the integration of blue-green infrastructure to create resilient urban water systems. Yu discussed the importance of restoring natural water cycles and utilizing wetlands and green spaces to manage water more effectively. His insights were particularly appreciated for their applicability in urban areas facing water management challenges (BlueTech Research 2024).

**BNDES 72nd Anniversary in Rio de Janeiro**

At the 72nd anniversary of the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES) on June 18, 2024, in Rio de Janeiro, Yu spoke about the critical need for investment in green infrastructure. He highlighted various projects in Brazil that could benefit from such investments, demonstrating how green infrastructure can drive economic growth while enhancing environmental sustainability. His advocacy for sustainable urban planning was praised for its practical implications and forward-thinking approach (BNDES 2024).

**Integration of Chinese Traditional Wisdom with Modern Sciences**

In an interview with ArchDaily, Yu elaborated on how his work is deeply rooted in the traditional Chinese philosophy of harmony between humans and nature, which he combines with cutting-edge scientific research. He described urban landscape architecture as an "art of survival," emphasizing the necessity of designing cities that can adapt to and thrive amid environmental changes. His "sponge city" concept, which incorporates elements such as rain gardens, green roofs, and permeable pavements, reflects this integration of ancient wisdom and modern technology (ArchDaily 2024).

**Expert Reviews and Comments**

Yu's work has received widespread recognition from experts and media outlets. The World Economic Forum highlighted his "sponge cities" as a groundbreaking approach to urban flooding and climate resilience, noting its adoption as a national policy in China in 2013 (World Economic Forum 2024).

The MIT Technology Review praised Yu for his innovative methods in water management and his commitment to creating sustainable urban environments. His projects, such as the Yongxing River Park, exemplify his ability to transform degraded urban spaces into functional and aesthetically pleasing green areas (MIT Technology Review 2024).

Yu's background and personal experiences have significantly influenced his work. Growing up during the Cultural Revolution and witnessing the degradation of his natural surroundings inspired his dedication to ecological restoration and sustainable design. His concept of "productive" landscapes, which prioritize ecological functionality over ornamental design, has been a key aspect of his approach (Landscape Architecture Aotearoa 2024).

Furthermore, the Cultural Landscape Foundation recognized Yu with the 2023 Cornelia Hahn Oberlander International Landscape Architecture Prize, acknowledging his role as a visionary leader in the field. The jury noted his innovative contributions to landscape architecture and his impact on urban planning policies worldwide (ArchDaily 2024).


Kongjian Yu's recent activities and advocacy efforts have significantly advanced the global discourse on climate resilience and sustainable urban development. His innovative "sponge cities" concept, which integrates natural processes into urban planning, has been widely recognized for its effectiveness in managing environmental challenges. Yu's keynote speeches at international summits have reinforced his reputation as a leading expert in the field. His work continues to inspire urban planners and landscape architects worldwide, providing a roadmap for sustainable and resilient urban development.


- Vatican News. (2024). *Global experts and leaders convene for Vatican climate summit*. Retrieved from [Vatican News](https://www.vaticannews.va/en.html).

- Pontifical Academy of Sciences. (2024). *From Climate Crisis to Climate Resilience*. Retrieved from [Pontifical Academy of Sciences](https://www.pas.va/en/events/2024/climate_resilience.html).

- World Green Infrastructure Network. (2024). *Nature Based Solutions Summit: Urban Edition 23-24 May 2024*. Retrieved from [World Green Infrastructure Network](https://www.worldgreeninfrastructurenetwork.org).

- Porto Protocol. (2024). *Nature Based Solutions Summit: Urban Edition*. Retrieved from [Porto Protocol](https://www.portoprotocol.com/event/nature-based-solutions-summit-urban-edition/).

- Greenroofs.com. (2024). *The Portuguese National Association of Green Roofs Announces the NBS Summit Urban Edition 2024*. Retrieved from [Greenroofs.com](https://www.greenroofs.com).

- BlueTech Research. (2024). *BlueTech Summit 2024*. Retrieved from [BlueTech Research](https://www.bluetechresearch.com).

- BNDES. (2024). *BNDES 72nd Anniversary*. Retrieved from [BNDES](https://www.bndes.gov.br).

- World Economic Forum. (2024). *Kongjian Yu’s 'sponge cities' design wins a major prize*. Retrieved from [World Economic Forum](https://www.weforum.org).

- MIT Technology Review. (2024). *Yu Kongjian is the architect making friends with flooding*. Retrieved from [MIT Technology Review](https://www.technologyreview.com).

- Landscape Architecture Aotearoa. (2024). *Kongjian Yu - champion of “sponge cities”*. Retrieved from [Landscape Architecture Aotearoa](https://www.landscapearchitecture.nz).

- ArchDaily. (2024). *Landscape Architect Kongjian Yu Pioneer of the "Sponge City" Concept Wins the 2023 Oberlander Prize*. Retrieved from [ArchDaily](https://www.archdaily.com).

- The World Around Summit 2024 The World Around viewed 24 June 2024 .

- ArchDaily. (2024). *Urban Landscape as an "Art of Survival”: An Interview with Kongjian Yu, the Advocate of the Sponge Cities Concept*. Retrieved from [ArchDaily](https://www.archdaily.com).

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