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Our world is increasingly urbanizing which is highlighting that sustainable cities are essential for maintaining human well-being. This research is one of the first attempts to globally synthesize the effects of urbanization on ecosystem services and how these relate to governance, social development and climate. Three urban vegetation ecosystem services (carbon storage, recreation potential and habitat potential) were quantified for a selection of a hundred cities. Estimates of ecosystem services were obtained from the analysis of satellite imagery and the use of well-known carbon and structural habitat models. We found relationships between ecosystem services, social development, climate and governance, however these varied according to the service studied. Recreation potential was positively related to democracy and negatively related to population. Carbon storage was weakly related to temperature and democracy, while habitat potential was negatively related to democracy. We found that cities under 1 million inhabitants tended to have higher levels of recreation potential than larger cities and that democratic countries have higher recreation potential, especially if located in a continental climate. Carbon storage was higher in full democracies, especially in a continental climate, while habitat potential tended to be higher in authoritarian and hybrid regimes. Similar to other regional or city studies we found that the combination of environment conditions, socioeconomics, demographics and politics determines the provision of ecosystem services. Results from this study showed the existence of environmental injustice in the developing world.