More than 1,000 international urban park leaders to convene in Denver, CO, focused on the role of parks in healthy, resilient, equitable, and economically competitive cities 

Washington, DC: Keynote and International Forum speakers headline a five-day indoor-outdoor conference focused on the power of urban parks to solve some of the major challenges in cities. Park and recreation leaders, city planners, design professionals, urban park advocates, and funders from 200+ cities will gather in Denver, Colorado, July 20-24, 2019, for Greater & Greener 2019: Exploring Natural ConnectionsGreater & Greener2019 is presented by City Parks Alliance in partnership with Denver Parks and Recreation. The full schedule of 80 sessions, tours, workshops, and special events and list of more than 120 confirmed speakers is available at


“From the opening keynote through the international forum, speakers will inspire and empower attendees to leverage the power of parks for their cities and residents,” said Catherine Nagel, Executive Director of City Parks Alliance. “Conference sessions, tours, mobile workshops and networking opportunities have been carefully curated to foster an honest dialogue around social equity, cross-agency and cross-sector partnerships, funding models, and replicable solutions for parks.” 


Day One Keynote and Plenary Session: Biodiverse Cities

With the dramatic decline in global biodiversity, cities around the world play an increasingly critical role in supporting sustainable ecosystems. As the home to close to two-thirds of the world’s human population, cities continue to be the gateway to nature, providing many with the first or only connection to the natural world. The opening keynote and plenary session will explore the connections between cities, the humans that live in them, and nature. The session will offer new perspectives on the expanding role greening and biodiversity play in making our cities more livable and sustainable.


Keynote: Dr. Charles Nilon, Urban Wildlife Ecologist, University of Missouri

Dr. Nilon is a leading global expert in urban wildlife ecology, whose research includes international, regional and neighborhood scale studies of biodiversity patterns in urban areas and the factors that shape those patterns. Dr. Nilon will talk about global biodiversity patterns as well as nearby nature and the environmental justice issues associated with access to nature. 


Yvonne Lynch, Urban Greening and Climate Resilience Strategist, Melbourne, Australia

Ms. Lynch is an urban greening and climate resilience strategist. She led the City of Melbourne’s Urban Forest and Ecology team for several years, garnering multiple innovation and leading practice awards. Yvonne is currently a strategic advisor for Green Riyadh with the Riyadh Development Authority, Saudi Arabia. Green Riyadh aims to create 3,300 new parks and plant 7.5 million trees by 2030.


Stuart Mackinnon, Chair/CommissionerVancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, Canada

Mr. Mackinnon is an elected commissioner and chair of the Vancouver park board and advocate for urban parks and green space issues with a focus on access, preservation, and conservation. He believes in honoring Vancouver's rich, natural beauty by prioritizing ecological, social, and economic sustainability for park board projects and takes a proactive stance toward increasing biodiversity, protecting wildlife, and preserving habitat.


Luis Andres Orive, Director of Environment, Vitoria Gasteiz, Spain

Mr. Orive has led the development of the city’s Green Belt and the creation of green corridors throughout the city that support the diversity of animal and bird species while connecting all residents to parks and nature within a 1/4 mile of their homes. The City of Vitoria Gasteiz was the winner of the European Commission’s European Green Capital award in 2012, and continues to be an international leader in urban greening and sustainability.


Day Two Keynote: City Building

Parks and recreation drive real solutions to big challenges facing cities. They are powerful agents helping communities address financial stability, environmental threats, community health, and social isolation. City parks have grown beyond their traditional physical and conceptual boundaries and now serve multiple functions as part of a system that enables cities to operate. This infrastructure framework provides health, environmental, and economic benefits, supporting our ability to live together in urban areas.


Keynote: Erion Veliaj, MayorMunicipality of Tirana, Albania

Mayor Veliaj is transforming Tirana into a sustainable city built for long-term success. As part of his vision of giving the city back to its citizens, Veliaj’s administration worked on the complete renovation of the city’s central square, the Skanderbeg Square, which was awarded the 2018 European Prize for Urban Public Space. During his term in office, Mayor Veliaj’s team has launched the Orbital Forest: a two-million tree belt that will serve as a pivotal element in addressing the environmental concerns of the city by 2030.


International Forum: Remaking Emerging Cities to Guide Urban Growth and Infrastructure

Presented by City Parks Alliance in partnership with World Urban Parks.

The world urban population will double from 3.5 billion to over 7 billion in the next 40 years with 8 of 10 people expected to live in cities by the year 2060. This means that half of the communities that will exist within the lifetime of our children have not been built yet. People are also living longer: the global population of people 60 years or over is expected to more than double in the next three decades. How are cities rethinking the role of parks and recreation to help address many of these issues? 

Featured Speaker: Anjali Mahendra, Ph.D., Director of Research, World Resources Institute Center for Sustainable Cities

Dr. Mahendra is the director of research at the World Resources Institute (WRI) Ross Center for Sustainable Cities. Her expertise is in urban transportation and land use policies, their public health impacts, their regional economic development, and equity impacts, and methodologies to estimate their impact on emissions. She is currently leading the development of a flagship WRI publication titled "Towards a More Equal City."


International Forum Keynote: Reinvigorating a River and a City

Dr. Yılmaz Büyükerşen, Mayor, City of Eskisehir, Turkey

Eskisehir is one of five cities selected by World Resources Institute as a finalist for the Ross Prize for Cities. The city is being recognized for its dramatic transformation over the last two decades, going from a flood prone city with one of the most polluted rivers in Turkey, to being a green and sustainable city with green spaces interwoven throughout the city and linked to efficient transport networks. Through Mayor Büyükerşen’sleadership, the city has cleaned the river and revitalized the central river corridor with a network of parks, trails and civic spaces, a transformation that has improved daily life for residents by providing greater access to green space and sustainable transportation while significantly boosting the economy.


International Forum Keynote: Redesigning Rapidly Growing Cities 
Juan Camilo Gonzalez, North City General Manager, Bogota, Colombia

By 2050, Bogota is expected to double the 2.6 million homes it currently has. With an existing urban infrastructure that presents significant challenges in terms of mobility, segregation and access to public green space, an inspired approach to urban planning will determine the quality of life of sustainability of millions of people. Mr. Gonzalez leads an ambitious effort to convert an environmental reserve into a public resource, with 3,200 acres of parks, pedestrian friendly design including protected bikeways and 12-foot sidewalks, and design a new sustainable city of 450,000 homes around it. All land owners will become shareholders in proportion to the size and placement of their parcels. 


Panel Session: Creating Family-Friendly Downtowns
Moderator: Gil Penalosa, Founder & Chair, 8-80 Cities 
Speakers: Mayor Erion Veliaj, Tirana, Albania | Dave Hutch, Director, Planning and Park Development, Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation


Many cities are reimagining their urban centers to be places where people of all ages can live. Learn how cities from around the world are using creative partnerships around programming and place-based development to make the urban realm meet human needs for play and creative interaction. 


For more than a decade, Greater & Greener has been the leading international conference for exploring the potential of parks and recreation in cities. Visit to view the schedule, see available continuing education credits, speakers and other announcements and connect with us on FacebookLinkedIn and Twitter, using the hashtag #greatergreener. 


Greater & Greenerconference support is provided by Landscape Structures, Inc., The Speedwell Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Knight Foundation, The Toro Company, Urban Market Development, Atkins, Hyde Family Foundation, William Penn Foundation, REI, The Salazar Center for North American Conservation, Visit Denver, Cleveland Foundation, Denver Arts & Venues, Denver Mountain Parks Foundation, Denver Water, Downtown Denver Partnership, ECI Site Construction Management, Gary Community Investments, Gates Family Foundation, Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO), Greenfields Outdoor Fitness, Greenway Foundation/Colorado Parks Foundation, HR&A Advisors, J. M. Kaplan Fund, KOMPAN, Molson Coors, The Trust for Public Land, University of Colorado Denver, University of Denver, and Xcel Energy, among others.  


City Parks Alliance is the nation’s leading advocacy group for urban parks and open spaces. As the only independent, nationwide membership organization solely dedicated to urban parks, City Parks Alliance leads and serves a growing network of civic and community leaders, government agencies, parks and recreation authorities, funders and others committed to the creation, revitalization and stewardship of parks and green spaces that contribute to dynamic and more equitable cities. For more information, please visit

Media Contact:

Tom McCann