The organisation has been analysing case studies across towns in the UK and has concluded that local authorities must give priority to using green space to reduce the effects of climate change.
Ten case studies examining how towns and cities have used green space to respond to flooding, water shortages and rising temperatures will be published by CABE Space.Four are available now, with six more to follow over the next nine months.
Cleveleys Coast Protection, Lancashire, Milton Keynes floodplain forest, Quaggy River Alleviation Scheme in Lewisham, south-east London, and Salford strategic flood-risk management in Greater Manchester have been put in the spotlight in the new research.
CABE Space management adviser Nicola Mathers said: "It is crucial to alter the way that the urban environment is planned if we are to reduce the impact of global warming. In 2007 the UK spent £36bn on flood damage - some of this could be better spent on green space designed to lessen this damage by creating natural defence systems, like floodplain forests."
In Milton Keynes, a 34ha floodplain forest has been created by removing gravel so that features including landforms, channels, pools and ponds are introduced.
The land is being restored to include reed bed, species-rich wet grassland, pasture, tall herb fen-type vegetation planted in a linear fringe along channels and water areas, and various woodland.
By creating a landscape that allows the river to expand into its floodplain, the risk of flooding further downstream has been reduced and the effect of this is expected to extend up to 12km downstream.
Mathers added: "We need local authorities to think ahead to the different climate of 2020 and beyond, and to be aware of the long-term cost of inadequate investment in public space."