What Does It Take to Renature Cities?

Researchers from the COST Action Circular City community published an expert-based analysis of barriers and strategies for the implementation of nature-based solutions.

Our partners from the COST Circular City community, of which GWP CEE is a member, published a new paper, as an outcome from their workshop sessions on Circular City WG5 barriers.

The full paper was published on ScienceDirect, and it is free to access.

The study uses an expert-based methodology to survey the barriers and strategies related to the implementation of nature-based solutions (NBS). The ambition of the paper is to offer a bird's eye view of the difficulties encountered by NBS deployment and ways to overcome them.

With a wide participation of 80 experts from COST Action Circular City, the authors identify barriers specific to 35 pre-defined NBS of the following four categories:

  • Vertical Greening Systems and Green Roofs;
  • Food and Biomass Production;
  • Rainwater Management;
  • Remediation, Treatment, and Recovery

The research sheds light on how a major interdisciplinary – yet predominantly technically-oriented - community of scientists and practitioners view this important topic. Overall, the most relevant barriers are related to technological complexity, lack of skilled staff and training programs as well as the lack of awareness that NBS is an option.

The paper's results highlight concerns related to post implementation issues, especially operation and maintenance, which subsequently affect social acceptance. The paper identifies a “chain” effect across barriers, meaning that one barrier can affect the existence or the relevance of other barriers. In terms of strategies, most of them target governance, information, and education aspects, despite the predominantly technical expertise of the participants.

The study innovates with respect to state-of-the-art research by showing a fine-grained connection between barriers, strategies and individual NBS and categories, a level of detail which is not encountered in any other study to date.