Cities worldwide are having a massive negative impact on the environment and actions are urgently needed to convert them into more sustainable urban areas. One promising approach is the implementation of Nature-Based Solutions (NBS), interventions inspired by nature and designed to deal with societal and environmental problems. The idea behind these solutions is to exploit the properties of plants, soils and other natural elements in an innovative and integrated way to re-shape urban areas and increase their sustainability and resilience to climate change. To help cities worldwide embrace this challenge, the EU-funded project URBAN GreenUP has developed a digital tool which can assist authorities and urban planners with the identification of the NBS that best fit their needs. The tool is freely available on the URBAN GreenUP website.
The tool recommends NBS for cities based on the challenges and capabilities of the city itself. It first asks users to nominate the city challenges in up to three urban areas, such as suburbs, neighbourhoods or watersheds. It then asks a series of questions that help determine the city’s greening capabilities. As a result, the tool provides a ‘top 15’ list of possible NBS interventions that correspond to the city’s nominated urban problems, as well as the city’s “success factors” for urban greening, to make sure that feasible solutions are suggested.
The NBS selection tool is based on the solutions collected in the URBAN GreenUP NBS Catalogue. Examples of NBS in the catalogue include green cycle and pedestrian routes, floodable parks, green roofs and facades, and urban tree planting. The catalogue aims at fostering the global uptake of the URBAN GreenUP approach by providing cities worldwide with robust indicators on how to embrace urban challenges using nature. It offers an extensive description of all solutions that the project is implementing in its cities. At the end of the catalogue, a review of the academic literature on the different aspects of the NBSs such as how these solutions will integrate with other kinds of urban interventions, their financial benefits and their role in current political scenarios is reported.
“This tool is a decision support tool” says Thami Croeser from RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, member of URBAN GreenUP and main developer of the tool. “It’s designed to give suggestions that may help you choose the right NBS for you, based on both your city’s capabilities, and the outcomes you’d like to achieve. It can also be helpful in figuring out how to build your capacity to deliver NBS and communicating to your leaders what it’ll take to get NBS happening in your city.”
URBAN GreenUP is a project funded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 730426. It aims at developing Renaturing Urban Plans, which include actions focused on mitigating the effects and risks of climate change and improving the air quality and water management of cities through NBS. URBAN GreenUP is run by an international consortium of 25 partners from 9 countries, coordinated by the CARTIF Technology Centre. Activities will take place in the three demonstrator cities of Valladolid (Spain), Liverpool (UK) and Izmir (Turkey) and will be replicated across Europe, Latin America and Asia.