Re-inventing the City with Nature-based Solutions

26 October 2017

The National Cities Forum examined approaches to catalysing urban transformation for low carbon resilient cities that are based on calls for fundamental ‘re-invention’ of the concept of ‘the city’. A number of such movements for transformation appear to be successfully building coalitions of actors and strong community support, creating networks of cities and businesses and citizens that are motivated by visions of altered urban conditions and a new urban life. These movements are global, but they locate action for change in city-led transformation, with local projects as demonstration of new potentialities for a re-invented urban future. The forum explored four examples of these ‘re-inventing the city’ movements, to ask whether they offer a route to the kind of radical restructuring of the city necessary to achieve a viable and resilient post-fossil-fuel urban future. Can Greening, Smarting, Localising and Re-animating Culture, deliver a low carbon urban future for cities?

Kes McCormick presented early findings on the design, implementation and impacts of nature-based solutions from the Urban Regional Innovation Partnerships in Naturvation. Researchers have been working in close cooperation with practitioners to explore 18 examples of nature-based solutions in Barcelona, Newcastle, Malmö, Utrecht, Győr and Leipzig. Key topics being investigated include governance strategies, innovation pathways, business models and citizen engagement. Kes McCormick talked about emerging key themes including 1) the importance of building an evidence base for nature-based solutions, 2) the ongoing experimentation by municipalities and urban actors with nature-based solutions in terms of financing, collaboration and the use of space in cities, 3) the need for significant investments into nature-based solutions, and 4) the relationships and experiences that people form with nature in cities.