Nature-based solutions for urban challenges


How can the cities of tomorrow respond to the climate change challenge in a sustainable way? EU project UNaLab aims to foster the development of an European Reference Framework for nature-based solutions. UNaLab will co-create and demonstrate locally attuned innovative water management systems in the context of an integrated urban ecological approach.


Aim of the Project:


Cities around the world are undergoing significant transformations and are becoming increasingly vulnerable to a multitude of risks linked to climate change and on-going urbanization. Nature-based solutions (NBS) present an approach to addressing urban challenges through working with nature, rather than against it, to achieve ecological and resilience objectives, while creating opportunities for social and economic innovation concurrently. The UNaLab consortium is comprised of 29 partners from 10 cities across Europe and beyond, including municipalities, research, business and industry. The UNaLab innovation action will generate a robust evidence base and develop a European reference framework on NBS containing information about the benefits, co-benefits, cost-effectiveness and economic viability of NBS. The Framework can be applied by regional and local authorities, communities, enterprises and other stakeholders to enable the development of smart, inclusive, resilient and sustainable urban communities.


Project Concept


The project concept is based on the validation of NBSs by implementing urban living labs demonstration areas in three frontrunner cities Eindhoven, Genova and Tampere. They will address identified urban climate- and water-related challenges by co-creating NBS with local stakeholders and end users, using an innovative systemic decision support tool. To ensure their replicability, these NBS will be coupled with innovative and cost-effective business models. Moreover, innovative municipal governance guidelines and decision-making schemes for enabling NBS implementation will be tested in the frontrunner cities. Subsequently, the five follower cities Başakşehir, Cannes, Castellón, Prague, and Stavanger will work in collaboration with frontrunner cities to develop individual NBS roadmaps in a co-creation approach. The non-European follower and observer cities Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, Guangzhou as well as the Network of Brazilian Intelligent Cities will actively learn from the European NBS approach and enable the creation a truly global NBS marketplace.


The UNaLab project is funded by the European Commission in the framework of the Horizon 2020 EU Research and innovation programm and led by the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland.

Project approach

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