Making Urban Nature Bloom: Four Years of Partnering for Nature-Based Solutions across Europe
As the world becomes both hotter and more urbanised, urban nature is under ever greater pressure, while at the same time carrying within it the seeds of a sustainable future – one built around nature-based solutions.
These solutions provide multiple benefits across a range of sustainability challenges facing cities – from managing flooding to securing improved health outcomes for different groups of society. Nature-based solutions use the natural properties of ecosystems. They have the potential to limit the impacts of climate change, enhance biodiversity and improve environmental quality, while contributing to economic activities and social well-being.
Examples of nature-based solutions are green roofs and city parks that limit heat stress, city lagoons that store water, and community gardens that enhance biodiversity and attract pollinators. Yet despite their significant potential, the use of nature-based solutions remains fragmented and highly uneven in cities.
To bring nature-based solutions into city planning, the NATURVATION (NATure-based URban innoVATION) project was created. The four-year project involves 14 institutions across Europe in the fields of urban development, geography, innovation studies, and economics, building capacity of local governments to incorporate nature-based solutions in their localities.
Over the course of the project, ICLEI Europe served as a process facilitator, leading partners to assess what nature-based solutions can achieve in cities, examine how innovation is taking place, and work with communities and stakeholders to develop the knowledge and tools required to realize the potential of nature-based solutions for meeting urban sustainability goals.
Six European cities were involved in this project as urban-regional innovation partnerships (URIPs). These served as on-the-ground innovation hubs to increase the potential of nature-based solutions to address sustainability challenges in their particular contexts.
Over the course of this book, you will discover stories from the partnerships, which brought together local authorities, researchers, civil society, practitioners, urban planners, and architects, truly demonstrating that nature-based solutions can be delivered by anyone. Though the projects outlined here are from a European perspective, the lessons are global.