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Social acceptance of and barriers for NBS projects implementation


The social acceptance of technology implementations, renewable energy and environmental policies are progressively becoming more important for policy and decision makers worldwide. They aim to design policies that reach attempted targets smoothly with community support. Sustainability assessment has recently become an important issue for policy and decision makers due to a recognized requirement of balance between environmental, economic and social policies.


There exists an inherent risk of new technology implementations on these three dimensions. Especially, when there is an impact of new technologies on income equality, land distribution, land value, poverty, health, participation and education, public resistance to new technologies, projects or policies increases. The proper assessment of new technologies’ impact on environment, economic and social life avoids conflicting policies in these areas.


Without quantified and properly determined social factors, the impact of policies, projects and technologies on well-being of society and environment may not be a base for future policy strategies.


Thus, studying social acceptance (socio-political acceptance, community acceptance, and market) and barriers (social, economic and cultural) are key factors for the implementation of NBS projects. Fortunately, some indicators can be measured and hence managed by urban planners and implementers of NBS projects.



Assess the social acceptance of a NBS


We relied on the theories of planned behavior, norm activation, and affect to create a questionnaire, to be used by urban planners to evaluate the social acceptance of a NBS project. We tested it on four real cases, providing useful information on four types of NBS. These cases were chosen in our pilot cities: METU forest in Ankara (Turkey), Tisza river bank in Szeged (Hungary), forest garden in Alcalà de Henares (Spain) and quarries in Milan (Italy). The quantitative data was completed with interviews.


The questionnaire allows collecting data and quantitatively evaluating the social acceptance of a NBS project. Urban planners and decision makers can conveniently adopt the procedure we built to assess and manage social acceptability of any type of NBS by community, public or market.


The results from our four case studies can also be used to think ahead the implementation of a similar project.





Our study showed that procedural fairness, positive and negative affects, perceived risk and benefits are key factors of trust which in turn influences acceptability of the NBS. Case specific antecedent factors of NBS acceptance that are significant, like knowledge and personal norms can also influence the social acceptance.


Implementation strategy and policy suggestions from our study


Qualitative and quantitative results do not only confirm, but also complement each other on the fact that resistance by the society is an important problem in NBS implementation.

The importance of citizens’ experiences with the NBS and their inclusion in the decision processes improve trust in the authorities and in return social acceptance is affected positively. There are also factors that differ across cases. For example, personal norms were significant in Alcalà de Henares and Milan, but not in Ankara or Szeged. These differences may be attributed to different NBS types, city characteristics, decision making procedures, and to political and cultural differences among other things.

The strategies in each NBS implementation cases will differ due to the differences in key factors. Experience, for instance, is significant for the knowledge. The results indicate that fairness should be one of the major issues in strategy development.

The suggestions range from different knowledge sharing activities to direct involvement of citizens in decision making and implementation procedures to improve procedural fairness perceptions and personal norm formations, which lead to higher acceptability.


Useful tools for NBS project holders


Nature4Cities helps you building new governance models.


To get inspiration from real NBS projects, you can visit Nature4Cities Implementation Database. You will find there, among other useful information, governance models examples where citizens were included in the implementation of the NBS.

You can also use our Step By Step guide for inclusive and participatory NBS Projects.

Our upcoming pre-selection tool will also help you choosing a business and governance model according to your specific context.



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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