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Fostering nature-based solutions for smart, green and healthy urban transitions in Europe and China

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - REGREEN (Fostering nature-based solutions for smart, green and healthy urban transitions in Europe and China)

Reporting period: 2021-03-01 to 2022-08-31

Urban systems globally experience significant and interlinked societal challenges including pressures on public health and well-being and growing inequalities and social disruption. At the same time, urban systems are particularly vulnerable to impacts of climate change and suffer from degraded or lack of natural ecosystems to help alleviate these impacts.
A promising approach to deal with these challenges is to work with nature’s capacity and qualities in a sustainability perspective. Working with nature in urban settings has advantages over other approaches: multi-functionality, multi-benefits and cost-effectiveness. Nature Based Solutions (NBS) are interventions that seek to restore, improve, enhance or conserve natural capital and biodiversity in terms of habitats or ecosystems.
Subsequently, these ecosystems provide enhanced multiple ecosystem services that contribute to social and economic benefits, reducing the urban societal challenges. They can help build climate resilience in cities, improve liveability, and in collaboration with other urban priorities contribute to building inclusive communities, closing social equality gaps, while promoting innovative businesses and jobs.
The aim of Regreen is to generate evidence for how Naturebased solutions (NBS) underpinned by improved urban governance, and public and private participation can systematically integrate ecosystem services and biodiversity and advocate their benefits and values in urban planning to meet societal challenges including climate change resilience, public health and well-being, and social inclusion. Cocreation with urban planners, citizens and business in urban living labs and educational programs for children ensure long-term sustainability of solutions, and support to business development assist further realization. This to accelerate the crucial transition toward equitable, green and healthy cities in Europe and China.
The focus in the second period has been on
i) establishment of project internal and external communication platforms and processes and ensuring that these continue to work optimally to ensure real integration across WPs, effective collaboration within WPs and to develop a strong outreach presence
ii) the development and application of the conceptual and analytical frameworks to models and integrated analyses across WPs,
iii) consolidating and ensuring a close collaboration between the urban living labs and prioritizing the research and engagement activities, and
iv) continue to explore business incubation and understanding the market framework and needs for nature-based entreprises.

Re i) LinkedIN close to 1400 followers, Twitter more than 1600 followers, and UBES_China WeChat more than 20,000 followers. 8 PodCast episodes on NBS.

Re ii) Conceptual framework developed based on an inter-disciplinary approach across WPs. Analytical frameworks developed and outlines of data collection protocols for mapping, models and surveys completed in the first period. Mapping and monitoring of urban land-cover changes to understand urban drivers and pressures completed (D2.1). Site-specific and spatially explicit models of ecosystem services are advancing strongly. The analysis of synergies and trade-offs in relation to multiple ecosystem services are under development in the city mapping tool ‘The City Explorer’. Analytical frameworks developed for educational approaches (D5.1) governance studies (D6.1) evidence, perceptions and assessment of the totality of benefits and values of NBS (D4.1) and market analysis for NBS (D8.2). In addition to the DoA, REGREEN develop scenarios of NBS interventions in the ULLs, used as the basis for ecosystem models to assess the potential impacts of new NBS.

Re iii) Prioritisation of challenge areas and NBS foci in individual ULLs completed. Development of walkable floor maps in close collaboration with the ULLs developed in an integrative process and used across the project in research activities and for dissemination.

Re iv) market research performed as basis for further development of business models and accelerator programmes. An assessment of innovation hubs and business stakeholders has been carried out as baseline for the continuous work on creating a network of NBEs. Two initial business models developed, structured according to a template with guidelines. Clustering activities in TFIII and the development of common outputs are key. The digital platform is established. A major development has been the guidelines for a depaving and regreening strategy in cities (D3.2) which already has had real political impact in the Paris region and will be the basis for a regional tool, to be developed by IPR.
REGREEN has advanced the understanding of urban drivers and pressures through the analysis across the European and Chinese ULLs at urban scale. REGREEN has established a framework and carried out mapping of the ULLs at neighbourhood scale using ultra-fine resolution of remotely sensed techniques to derive urban structure types and combines these with multiple and interacting pressures into the mapping of urban challenges.
- modelling of ecosystem services and biodiversity from multifunctional green infrastructure and NBS interventions tailored to the ULLs
- examine synergies and trade-offs in relation to heat mitigation, noise mitigation, air pollution and water quality, urban flooding, carbon storage, community cohesion, social inequity, liveability, recreation and amenity use and biodiversity.
- innovative in-depth method to theorize an NBS-human wellbeing complex system, using Causal Loop Diagrams to develop our understanding of the complex systems linking NBS and human health and wellbeing.
- scenarios of green infrastructure and NBS interventions with the ULLs. This guides the modelling of ecosystem services and biodiversity, the valuation of NBS benefits and ultimately provides a compelling case for investing in NBS.
- accelerating and improving the actual implementation of NBS beyond the life-time of the project in the ULLs: Planning capacities have been significantly advanced through a first strategy for green infrastructure and NBS intervention in Velika Gorica, the use of walkable floormaps at head of department level to discuss municipal plans in Aarhus and the target setting and tool development of de-pavement methodology and renaturalisation guidance developed in Paris region.

- market research that illustrated the status quo and possible niches in which new business models can be developed.
- contributed to several clustering initiatives outputs including most recently the vital role of nature-based solutions in a nature positive economy.
- promoting innovation processes for NBS focusing specifically on SMEs and up-start companies.

- cover a significant gap of knowledge in relation to evidence-based cost-effectiveness studies or urban and peri-urban NBS.
- developed and gathered a database on cost-effectiveness of different types of urban NBS and show cases how a cost-effective measure can be applied in concrete examples in the ULLs.
- guidelines for urban policy makers and planners that are in the process of or plan to enhance the use and uptake of NBS in urban strategies and policies.