Innovating with Nature-Based Solutions
Mainstream urban development tends to favour 'grey' infrastructure and 'brown' redevelopment. Nature-based solutions are emerging as a space of innovation, seeking to experiment with new technologies, materials and techniques in cities that can provide the functions of traditional infrastructure systems (e.g. urban drainage or protection from flooding) and at the same time offer additional benefit across a range of urban sustainability challenges, from health and well-being to economic regeneration, biodiversity protection to climate change. Nature-based solutions also require innovative forms of governance and policy making, new business models and approaches to financing urban development. They provide the space for creative approaches to engaging with communities and stakeholders, fostering new kinds of partnerships through which sustainability can be pursued.
Despite the growing interest in Nature Based Solutions for addressing urban sustainability, there can be a gap between assessments of their potential and their use in practice. Our work charts the pathways that have led to the successful uptake of Nature Based Solutions in diverse urban contexts. It focuses on the innovations that have enabled the implementation of Nature Based Solutions and provides insights into the conditions that can constrain and enable their widespread uptake.
Overcoming the Implementation Gap
Putting Nature-Based Solutions to Work
We have analysed the use of Nature Based Solutions in 100 cities in Europe, selected to represent diverse urban conditions and sustainability challenges. Examining almost 1000 interventions that have put Nature Based Solutions to work, we find that there has been a rapid increase in their use over the past decade and that they are increasingly being deployed through partnerships of public and private actors. Nature Based Solutions are most often used to address challenges of health and urban regeneration, with less focus on environmental challenges.