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Nature4Cities developed a typology of Nature Based Solutions Implementation models

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The Implementation Models: Identifying barriers and drivers in NBS implementation in different social, economic, cultural and regulatory contexts


Nature4Cities developed a typology of Implementation Models (governance models, financing schemes and business models) according to their capacity to overcome barriers, their capacity to become drivers of NBS implementation and their capacity to be adapted to different social, economic, cultural and regulatory contexts.


The barriers, drivers and the typology of Implementation Models have been defined firstly by a review of the state of the art and secondly comparing the results with real cases.

These real cases have come from surveys and reviews carried out to urban planners and

municipalities, a survey on pioneering NBS projects and the project partner cities (Szeged, Milano Metropolitan Area, Çankaya and Alcala de Henares).


The different urban and environmental governance models have been mapped and characterized in order to assess their suitability for different NBS projects. Five clusters have been identified and distributed according to the involved actors (government, community and market), their position in the spectrum from high to low government

involvement and their level of participation. The study has been complemented with

financing mechanisms, business models and management strategies that can facilitate the implementation of these projects.

The analysis of the different regulatory, socio-cultural and economic contexts of European cities was meant to give insights regarding the applicability of the Implementation Models. Finally, a typology of Implementation Models was proposed in order to link the NBS types, barriers and drivers with the identified implementation Models.


This typology will be the basis of an upcoming tool, that will allow users to select business, financial as well as governance models to determine and verify replicability in other urban contexts.






Nature Based Solutions projects: an innovative way to address urban challenges and more inclusive practices


The implementation of NBS projects is deeply determined by the novelty of the concept. Its

innovation is both an opportunity and a challenge for its implementation. As a new concept

generates uncertainty, lack of technical preparedness and operational unknown. But also

allows innovative approaches, new ways to address (and consider) old problems and more

inclusive practices.


Therefore, there is a clear link between economic barriers and knowledge drivers. Uncertainties in a new field as NBS could generate significant barriers that can be addressed by more research and evidence. Drivers related with network governance models (such as coordination, co-production, cross-sectorial cooperation and

reflexive/adaptive governance) are drivers that address significant number of cross-domain

barriers showing the suitability of these kind of governance models for NBS projects.

Consequently, a significant number of NBS projects require types of governance that are at

the intersection between urban governance and environmental governance. Urban and

environmental governance is a map of spectrums where the different models coexist in

different degrees regarding some key axes such as level of innovation, polycentric vs.

monocentric, involved sectors, level of participation and scale.

The models are not static or definitive as they can coexist in the same initiatives or change during the different stages of the projects. Collaborative, multisector, polycentric and adaptive governance models have been considered to be the more suitable governance models for NBS projects, especially when urban scales are addressed.


Similarly, the suitability of each funding mechanism to NBS implementation has been found

to be a matter of scale, as measured across the different dimensions of funders, beneficiaries and NBS actions.

The economic context in which NBS may have more possibilities of application depends firstly on to this scale of considered NBS; although the typology and hierarchical level of the involved actors, who operate to improve them, define the accessibility to specific funds.

The lack of knowledge and capabilities also represents in the economic domain a major barrier to private capital funding. There is therefore ample opportunity to upskill the grassroots initiators of NBS projects, as well as the lower tier(s) of government.

NBS Ambassadors should play an important role as mediators, bridge-builders,

technology transfer agents and so on.


The final selection of the implementation model for a specific NBS project is going to be

influenced mainly by the NBS type itself (technical and financial characteristics) and by the

context (including barriers and drivers).


You can explore some implementation models examples in the Implementation models database.



Research and open governance in the NBS sector as answer to market barriers


The systematic conceptualization of barriers and drivers carried out in the work done by N4C consortium shows that evidence generated through research can overcome market/economic barriers. At the same time co-production, reflexive governance and other forms of open governance can help alleviate cross sectoral barriers. This work could be the basis to define new institutional and governance arrangements and new finance and

business models, that will foster multi-stakeholder involvement, citizens engagement and

empowerment, leveraging both public and private funding of nature-based solutions in cities.


You want to learn more about this work ?

Read the full deliverable.


Discover more publications and results on our publications and results page.


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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