Living with Nature in Cities

Find out how harmony between nature and urban areas can bring healthier and more pleasant living in urban areas and offer resilience against climate change impacts such as extreme heat events or floodings.

About nature-based solutions:

According to the European Commission, nature-based solutions (NBS) are solutions that are inspired and supported by nature, they are cost-effective, and simultaneously provide environmental, societal and economic benefits, while building up resilience. NBS must support biodiversity and enhance natural capital.

Nature-based solutions seek to restore damaged ecosystems, create new ecosystems and habitats and improve, enhance or conserve biodiversity. When the functioning of ecosystems is improved through NBS, these ecosystems provide enhanced multiple ecosystem services. These ecosystem services offer multiple social and economic benefits and reduce urban societal challenges such as food security, climate change impacts, water security, human health, disaster risk, social and economic development, whilst also safeguarding nature. NBS can also improve liveability, and in collaboration with other urban priorities, contribute to building inclusive communities, closing social equality gaps, while promoting innovative businesses and jobs. Multifunctionality is key to the NBS concept. 

Biodiversity plays a central role in NBS as it is the support of ecosystem functioning, stability and resilience. Biodiverse ecosystems (at the genetic, specific and ecological levels) should be a prerequisite in the design and management of NBS. NBS is based on principles of ecology, especially ecosystem ecology and ecological engineering to protect, manage, and design or restore ecosystems.

For NBS to be fully effective in tackling societal challenges, planning and design needs to be inclusive – striving to obtain social equity for instance in who gets to benefit from nature in cities, and participatory – enabling those affected by the NBS to be part in the design and decisions around management. NBS also needs to be planned and implemented systemically – not just in the odd place, but creating nature networks to optimize impacts – and across disciplines and departments – which can help ensure that the multi-functionality of NBS is optimized. 

Finally, NBS should support the Sustainable Development Goals.

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