What is Connecting Nature?

Connecting Nature is a €12m five year project funded by the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 Innovation Action Programme. With 29 project partners from industry, local authorities, local communities, NGO’s and research in 16 countries, our aim by project end is to position Europe as a global leader in the innovation and implementation of nature –based solutions.

We will form a community of cities that fosters peer to peer learning and capacity building among our front runner cities who are experienced in delivering large scale nature-based solutions, and our fast follower cities who have the desire to implement large scale nature-based solutions but lack the expertise.  As knowledge and expertise increases, so too will our community to include new members (multiplier cities).

At the same time, project partners will develop policy and practices necessary to scale up urban resilience, innovation and governance using nature-based solutions. Our approach will be open and innovative, fostering the development of co-operation between local governments, SME’s, academic research and community partners to produce a tool kit and guidebook for cities seeking to deliver nature-based solutions in their locales.

Challenges

Most innovation occurs in cities, but cities are also the location where most of today’s major and urgent challenges occur; challenges such as rapid climate and environmental change, complex water and waste management, adverse health and well-being, changes in social cohesion and migration patterns. Nature-based solutions can provide an entry point to addressing these challenges.

While the benefits of nature-based solutions are clear and can directly address the challenges outlined, the development and implementation of nature-based solutions has been slow, uneven and, in many cases complex; requiring efforts across many disciplines.  Issues like “silo thinking”, managing social cohesion and tackling the deficit of knowledge that exists around nature-based solutions need to be confronted when developing plans to introduce nature-based solutions in cities. 

Connecting Nature has taken these challenges on board and will devise and test approaches using multi-disciplinary methods where solutions are designed and created collaboratively that will lead towards the creation of resilient, greener, healthier cities, leading to a more sustainable living for their citizens.

Objectives

  • Develop an urban planning process that will ‘burst open’ silos, enrich and nurture social, business and governance innovations and focus on the scaling-up of nature-based solutions in cities;
  • Develop a new master planning process that accelerates the scaling of nature-based solutions in cities by connecting policy and market needs and turning barriers into opportunities for innovations;
  • Develop a guiding process for identifying funding and financial mechanisms that establish nature-based solutions as evinced valid solutions for sustainable and resilient cities that are climate prepared; and to valorise knowledge and market mechanisms of nature-based solutions’ scaling for stimulating the market for new innovation;
  • Showcase, and share learning from, the scaling-up, replication and integration of nature-based solutions for city-making within front-runner cities;
  • Implement resourced masterplans in the fast-follower cities, that is collaborative, employing sharing of good practice, working examples and quantifiable evidence, interdisciplinary work and stakeholder engagement;
  • Engage the fast-follower cities in capacity-building and experiential learning building on effective knowledge sharing and mentoring between front-runner cities and fast-follower cities and the use of proven curatorial planning processes;
  • Secure adequate funding to realise fast-follower city accelerator masterplans for scale up of nature-based solutions in the fast-follower cities;
  • Develop sustainable support for innovation, exploitation and enterprise development building on selected and promising new nature-based solution exemplars from the front runner cities and other solutions co-created to better suit the specific environmental, organisational and funding scenarios of the fast follower cities;
  • Experiences and knowledge gained will be fed back into the reference framework for nature-based solutions.