Cities go back to nature to tackle climate challenges
Cities need to develop inclusive, smart and sustainable solutions to climate and water-related challenges. Using nature to solve these challenges can bring multiple benefits. The EU-funded Urban Nature Labs (UNALAB) project is taking a citizen-driven approach to developing innovative, nature-based solutions in different urban environments.
© Drazen #206989599, 2019 source:stock.adobe.com
Together, climate change and urbanisation are currently creating a range of challenges, including floods, air pollution and heat stress in our cities. By 2050, it is forecast that Europes cities will see 36 million new citizens. The Urban Nature Labs (UNALAB) project brings cities together to tackle these challenges and better prepare for the future.
The UNALAB team is focusing on nature-based solutions to address multiple urban climatic, environmental and social challenges simultaneously. Examples of solutions that are inspired by, supported by or copied from nature include natural water-retention ponds, green roofs and façades on buildings, and green spaces like parks and tree-lined streets.
These nature-based innovations provide many environmental benefits such as reducing air pollution, cooling buildings and infrastructure, and cutting energy needs. They also create additional sustainable benefits by contributing to citizens well-being and health, enhancing biodiversity and protecting ecosystems.
During the project, the UNALAB team will gather and assess evidence of these benefits. Furthermore, innovations such as these will support the creation of new jobs through new business opportunities, products and services.
Three cities Eindhoven in the Netherlands, Tampere in Finland and Genova in Italy will implement living lab demonstration areas. Each city will work with stakeholders and end-users in their communities to create nature-based solutions to identified climate and water-related challenges. To support the local decision-making process, UNALAB has developed a simulation tool that assesses the impacts of different nature-based options.
Feedback from these three demonstration cities will be used to create a user-friendly toolbox that can guide cities across Europe towards developing and implementing their own inclusive, nature-based solutions. The Urban Nature Labs project, which involves 29 partners across 12 European countries, will also provide a framework for upscaling the solutions in the three demo cities, as well as replicating them in seven other cities both within and outside Europe. .