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Nature4Cities built a multi-scalar and multi-thematic Nature Based Solutions typology

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Gathering and structuring NBS knowledge as basis for the project


From the beginning of the project, the concept of “Nature-Based Solutions” (NBS) has been discussed and compared to other concepts already used in reference to nature. The main goal of this theoretical work was to be able to clearly explain this new concept, to build the framework that will be the basis of Nature4Cities further developments for the application of the NBS concept to the urban development context.


The theoretical concept has been then confronted with practical examples and a list of NBS has been compiled. This work also led us to propose an analysis grid to read and analyze the NBS.


A classification of NBS has been built to structure the NBS inventory in a way that facilitates a recursive research in the NBS database, using operational entries as types of interventions (forms or strategies) or support of the NBS (water, ground, building).






Finally a specific work has been carried out to produce a useful documentation of NBS generic entities (57 NBS have been documented over the 75 listed in the classification). It integrates the information of the NBS documentation regarding two other main frameworks of the project: the implementation models and the Urban Challenges.


The typology and the NBS database are key elements for the platform development and will be used as basis in any further task of the project. Indeed, the documentation allowed to draw a global picture of the links between NBS and Urban Challenges that will be a valuable support for the design of the upcoming assessment tools.


A structuration producing a better understanding of NBS applied to urban context, even for non specialists


Our work contributes to enhancing a better understanding of NBS applied to urban context. It gives keys to better understand the EU definition of NBS (2015):

Nature-based solutions are positive responses to societal challenges, and can have the potential to simultaneously meet environmental, social and economic objectives. They are actions inspired by, supported by or copied from nature; both using and enhancing existing solutions to challenges, as well as exploring more novel solutions.
Nature Based Solutions are ideally are resilient to change, as well as energy and resources efficient. They recognise the importance to develop a systemic approach and at the same time to adapt interventions to the local context.

We built a NBS typology that has been proved to be efficient to classify NBS and to facilitate the research of solutions.

By privileging operational entries, this typology differs from others and allows it to be easily understandable for non specialist.


A NBS typology and NBS fact sheets that will be available on the Geocluster4NBS


The typology was used to structure the NBS database which is a founding element of the platform. Any NBS referenced in the database will be searchable in the platform and the factsheets giving useful information about each of them will be available to consultation.


This NBS database was launched with 57 NBS fact sheets already available. It translates a complex knowledge into an applicable format, that delivers a better understanding of NBS and stresses the features that qualify them as NBS.


A work feeding the European reference framework on NBS


This work developed an analytical framework to document NBS showing their main features and applied it to a large panel of urban NBS. It contributes to develop an integrated evidence base and a European reference framework on Nature-Based Solutions.


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Copyright © 2017 by Nature4Cities

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 730468