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Nature Based Solutions for re-naturing cities: knowledge diffusion and decision support platform through new collaborative models

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - Nature4Cities (Nature Based Solutions for re-naturing cities: knowledge diffusion and decision support platform through new collaborative models)

Reporting period: 2018-05-01 to 2019-10-31

The human society is facing a broad range of challenges, such as unsustainable urbanization and related human health issues, degradation and loss of natural capital and the ecosystem services it provides, climate change and an alarming increase of natural disaster risks. There is growing recognition and awareness that nature can help provide viable solutions that use and deploy the properties of natural ecosystems. These nature-based solutions (NBS) provide sustainable, cost-effective, multi-purpose and flexible alternatives for various objectives. Working with nature can further pave the way towards a more resource efficient, competitive and greener economy. It can also help to create new jobs and economic growth, through the manufacture and delivery of new products and services, which enhance the natural capital rather than deplete it.

The overall ambition of Nature4Cities project is to provide a strong knowledge base on NBS, as well as scientific and technical tools development for the holistic assessment of NBS urban projects enabling the evaluation of NBS benefits co-benefits and costs. The databases, repositories, and assessment tools will be implemented in a web-based platform including a dedicated platform for citizens' participatory engagement.

The main objectives are :

1. To structure an extensive and multi-thematic knowledge base on NBS for urban re-naturing to serve as an evidence base and reference framework on NBS
2. To bring the necessary tools for a widespread dissemination of this knowledge towards urban decision makers, practitioners and citizens
3. To provide capabilities for accurate diagnosis of urban nature and citizens interactions with urban nature
4. To support NBS-based green development initiatives by providing a holistic multi-criteria assessment methodology for NBS projects
5. To capitalize on both, an inventory of existing governance, business and financing models supporting NBS projects implementation, and the new assessment capabilities described above, to propose innovative implementation models for NBS projects.
6. To create a web-based platform as a mean to circulate knowledge on NBS, to serve as a decision-helping tool for NBS projects developers, and to enhance the links between the stakeholders of NBS projects, from citizens to local authorities to NBS solutions providers.
7. To demonstrate the platform on NBS projects in four partner Cities; Citta Metropolitana di Milano (Italy), Alcala de Henares (Spain), Ankara (Turkey), and Szeged (Hungary).
The work conducted during the project structured an extensive and multi-thematic knowledge base on NBS for re-naturing cities, and provided an overall NBS framework for the holistic assessment of NBS projects benefits, co-benefits and costs. Requirements of tools for a widespread dissemination of this knowledge have been defined. It delivered a set of specifications and a detailed description of the methodology followed in the project as well as the stakeholders’ requirements and the way the Nature4Cities platform and tools developments are responding to these needs. The development of a relevant integrated framework for NBS analysis and of an exploitable platform together with a coherent complementarity of the assessment methods is ongoing. The NBS holistic assessment methodologies for NBS were developed by completing methodological activities on urban performance assessment, environmental impact, socio-economic impacts. The specific knowledge related to governance, business and financing models was built and structured. N4C provided many results that are summurised in three inputs categories.

To build a NBS scernario
• Consolidation of the urban challenges framework structured to cover NBS impacts on 11 Urban Challenges
• Geocluster4NBS development with NBS project observatory, NBS pre-selection, N4C databases and replication tools

To assess a NBS scenario :
• Incorporation of an analysed Expert Model and Methods into the Simplified Urban performance Assessment Tool
• Test of Agent Based Modelling methods to support the assessment methodologies
• Environmental assessment methodology for NBS and the cotrreponding simplified LCA tool specifications
• Guideline to support the municipalities in understanding existing methods and tools that address urban climate resilience assessment
• Dynamic assessment approach for time series analysis of the urban indicators
• Monetary valuation scale and its corresponding simplified tool “NBenefit$”
• An Environmental Quality of Life valuation scale (EQoL)

To implement a NBS scenario and involve citizens :
• An Implementation Models Typology and online database to structure and categorize existing innovative governance, financing and business models
• A societal acceptance analysis methodology
• A methodological approach to preliminary understand the potential impact of NBS implementation models
• An Implementation Models preselection tool
• A step-by-step guide for NBS interventions

Initial work has been finalized with regard to the design of Nature4Cities web-based platform and the development of the different modules and components has started, including the Graphical User Interface. In parallel, the field test activities have started with the data collection done in the 4 pilot cities.
N4C brings together an integrated holistic and participatory framework and tools that will enable and backbone new governance, business and finance models (Implementation Models - IM) to foster NBS in current urban planning practices in response to Urban Challenges identified.

The structuring of an extensive and multi-thematic knowledge base on NBS for re-naturing cities and tools for a widespread dissemination of this knowledge have been defined and developed with the technical development of first round of knowledge related to NBS projects observatory, NBS database, NBS pre-selection tool all integrated into the Geocluster4NBS tool.

The development of a holistic multi-criteria assessment methodology for NBS projects has been conducted to provide a framework for assessment of benefits, co-benefits and costs of NBS. Together with the overall NBS framework it constitutes an integrated evidence base and a European reference framework on nature-based solutions. It will be integrated within the N4C web-based platform tools that will enable to simulate trade-offs associated with different scenarios of NBS projects. These developments will serve as support to foster and facilitate the creation of a global market and new business opportunities towards green economy developments at the scale of urban region.

The next step activities on the platform development together with the pilot activity will provide clear feedback, test the current policy and regulatory and administrative frameworks, enable to communicate on implementation model adapted to natural based solution, test the capacity to improve innovation and enable to overcome barriers.