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Nature Based Urban Innovation

Periodic Reporting for period 3 - NATURVATION (Nature Based Urban Innovation)

Reporting period: 2019-11-01 to 2021-05-31

As cities grow, their impacts on the environment and the challenge of ensuring their resilience is attracting increasing attention. Across the world, policy-makers and urban developers are turning their attention to the possibilities that nature-based solutions offer for achieving urban sustainability. Nature-based solutions (NBS) involve creating new forms of blue and green infrastructure – such as green roofs or ponds for storing flood water - restoring urban environments - such as river or coastal areas - and harnessing those forms nature that we find in cities -such as parks and gardens - to improve urban life. They can use the natural properties of ecosystems to limit impacts of climate change, enhance biodiversity & improve environmental quality while also contributing to economic activities and social well-being. Because they have the potential to address multiple goals at the same time, NBS are increasing promoted as a way in which cities can achieve sustainability.

Despite the promising potential of NBS, there remains a gap between the growing interest being expressed in their use and how they are being implemented on the ground. The aim of the NATURVATION project is to help to address this and support a step-change in how cities use NBS to address urban sustainability. We focus on three core goals. First, developing the evidence base and assessment processes required to evaluate how NBS are being used and the extent of their benefits for sustainability. Second, investigating the innovation taking place and identifying the governance arrangements, business models, finance and citizen engagement needed to develop and implement NBS as well as the challenges that they face. Finally, working in partnership with municipal governments and stakeholders through Urban Regional Innovation Partnerships (URIPs) and a Task Force, as well as with wider policy and practitioner communities, to create the knowledge, capacity, outputs and tools needed to build momentum for delivering NBS on the ground.

Our final report details the key findings of the project and the project website (www.naturvation.eu) contains a wealth of reports and tools that address the objectives above. Overall, our work has found that NBS are generating significant benefits for urban communities across Europe and internationally, that it is possible to value these benefits in monetary terms whilst still recognising the diversity of values that they generate and reveals and that a wide range of social and cultural goals are being met through the development of urban NBS for sustainability. At the same time, introducing new sources and forms of value into the urban landscape inevitably brings tensions and trade-offs and to date both research and policy have paid less attention to these while celebrating the multi-functional and beneficial contributions of urban NBS. Moving forwards it will be vital that this is acknowledged if questions of social and environmental justice are going to be addressed rather than exacerbated.
Although some of the final outputs planned for the project were disrupted as a result of the CV-19 pandemic, overall the vast majority of the project’s Milestones were met and Deliverables produced. The summary of the project’s findings above have been communicated and disseminated to a wide range of audiences. Some highlights include:

• Website: over 140,000 visits from 193 countries and more than 40,000 downloads of briefings, reports and tools
• Social media: approx. 3,300 followers on Twitter and 550 on Instagram
• 12 articles for municipalities, urban development industry and finance & insurance sector
• 31 publications in 20 different journals (another 25 submitted and ~15 still being written)
• 7 book chapters (4 published, 3 submitted)
• Special Issue on urban NBS and social justice published in Cities
• Textbook manuscript to be completed and submitted in 2021
• 6 presentations at events for municipalities
• >160 presentations at other stakeholder events with >12,000 participants
• Local exhibitions held in Malmö and Győr
• Virtual exhibition includes films, leaflets, webpages and reports
• Final conference involved over 600 participants online in 5 panel sessions, 6 meet-the-expert sessions, 6 ’hives’ of information
• Over 49,000 visits to Urban Nature Atlas & cross-referenced on multiple platforms across EU
• Our Making Nature Bloom report co-produced by the URIPs to share their experiences – both good and bad – of developing NBS in 6 cities in Europe
• A suite of tools for decision-support, including the Urban Nature Navigator, that enables multi-criteria decision-making for diverse nature-based solutions, and the Explorer, which supports the design stage of project development in assessing potential & trade-offs between NBS
• Urban Nature MOOC: 54,000 original visitors and 14,000 course enrolments to date, with the MOOC compendium downloaded over 18,000 times.

Further details can be found in D7.9 Project Report Communication, Dissemination & Impact.
The NATURVATION project has produced important results that go beyond the state of the art, in terms of building a unique picture of how, why and with what effects NBS can be used in cities, creating an assessment of the current role of NBS in EU and national policy, and providing the first Urban Nature Atlas for Europe.

Throughout the project, we have worked with the three pathways to impact – to build capacity, enable uptake and foster cultural change.

Our work to build capacity for the development of urban NBS in Europe has been developed primarily through ongoing communication and dissemination, including events, publications, films, podcasts and key project outputs such as the Urban Nature Atlas and Urban Nature Navigator. There have also been specific efforts to build capacity within and between our URIPs and across ICLEI’s city network through knowledge sharing activities.

When it comes to enabling uptake we have organised and participated in a number of bespoke events – from peer-to-peer learning amongst ICLEI cities and the URIPs, to specific workshops focused on business models, financing and governance. We have delivered presentations and reports targeting specific audiences to explain the implications of our evidence base for their ongoing processes and to demonstrate how specific tools can be integrated into their programmes to support the further uptake of NBS.

Embedding cultural change is a longer process and one in which we have focused on a few key partners to both embed NBS in local and national policy & practice and support the development of the urban NBS agenda globally. Our partners testify not only to the importance of the evidence base and tools we have developed, but also to the shift in mindset that the project has enabled them to achieve within their organisations.

We will continue to further the impact of the project through its legacy, taking the Urban Nature Atlas forward as an interactive site with increased global coverage, developing the Urban Nature Explorer for commercial use and further developing the map-based assessment of the potential of NBS in Europe. Our key results will be available on the Network Nature platform and through collaboration with CitiesWithNature we will also ensure it reaches a global network of cities working with NBS for sustainability goals.
Participants solving the Business Model Puzzle at "Innovative Financing for Creating Green Cities"
PI Harriet Bulkeley and Laura Tozer attending Biodiversity COP in Egypt
The critical bike tour showed participants a range of contrasting green realities in Poblenou, a pos
The ten identified key lessons enabling the cultivation of NBS in the future.
URIP meeting in Utrecht testing the pilot version of the Urban Nature Navigator