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What about Nature-based Urban Innovation?

LUCSUS, together with the Centre for Environmental and Climate Research, and the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics, is a partner in the European project Naturvation, which stands for nature-based urban innovation. The project has three main objectives: advance assessment approaches, enable innovations, and realise the potential of nature-based solutions. 

We ask LUCSUS researcher Christine Wamsler about her role in the project.

 

Christine

What is your role in the Naturvation project?

– I will work with other LUCSUS staff in close cooperation with the IIIEE, CEC and other project stakeholders on the project. LUCSUS and IIIEE will together carry out in-depth city case studies to identify existing patterns of nature-based solutions regarding their governance modes, financing modes, and civic engagement, and we will support the mapping of nature-based solutions and their key characteristics in 100 European cities. On this basis we will cooperate in the development of related policy briefs, handbooks and guidelines, community events, exhibitions and a Massive Open Online Course. We will also have a joint post-doc researcher who will work together with us on these activities.

What are some of the challenges the project aims to address?

– Nature-based solutions are seen to hold significant promise to enable urban transformation to sustainability. They have potential to provide multiple benefits across the range of sustainability challenges facing cities, including increasing floods and heat stress, ill-health, biodiversity loss and social injustice. However, despite their significant potential, the use of nature-based solutions remains marginal, fragmented, and highly uneven within and between cities.

What aspects of the project are you most excited for?

– It is exciting to be part of a unique transdisciplinary partnership between many different research institutions, six partner cities (including Malmö), business and civil society organisations, in order to bring together the expertise needed to support nature-based solutions. This is crucial since current expertise is dispersed between different disciplines and sectors and is rarely brought into dialogue. Every single stakeholder in the project is thus a crucial part of the whole.

You have worked with issues concerning climate adaptation in municipalities etc. for a long time now. From past experience, what are some of the lessons to keep in mind to make this project successful, do you think?

– Transdisciplinary research and participatory processes are necessary for the effectiveness of science and for driving long-term change. However, they require an explicit awareness and consideration of related challenges. My previous work with other colleagues at LUCSUS and beyond[1] has shown that it is crucial to formulate and strengthen concrete, interim benefits for all participating practitioners and organisations, and to create mechanisms and structures that help build interpersonal trust and to plan for flexibility. Listening to those involved and acknowledging previous efforts, existing structures and mechanisms is key.

– Another crucial aspect relates to my previous work on mainstreaming[2]. There are diverse entry points for promoting nature-based solutions, including environmental planning, climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation, which are all cross-cutting issues. Previous work, practices and theories on mainstreaming, including the critical conditions that render mainstreaming effective, are thus important to be considered in the project.

Any concluding remarks?

– The greatest solution of all is to live and work in mindful partnership with nature, yourself and your community[3]. I hope that the NATURVATION project can contribute to this.

 

[1] E.g. http://www.lucsus.lu.se/research/urban-governance/urban-transformation ...

[2] E.g., Wamsler, C., Pauleit, S. (2016) ‘Making Headway in Climate Policy Mainstreaming and Eosystem-Based Adaptation: Two Pioneering Countries, different Pathways, one Goal’. Climatic Change 137(1):71-87.

[3] Wamsler C., Brossmann J., Hendersson H., Kristjansdottir R., McDonald C., Scarampi P. (2017) Mindfulness in sustainability science, practice and teaching. Sustainability Science. Online first.  https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11625-017-0428-2 
 

 

Read more about the project:

www.naturvation.eu/

www.lucsus.lu.se/research/urban-governance/naturvation

www.researchmagazine.lu.se/2017/02/28/nature-based-solutions-in-cities/

 

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