Connecting Nature

Cities are transitionscapes, where transformative change can be scaled and amplified. Traditional public (spatial) planning processes cannot always harvest this potential of cities, and can even become counterproductive. Such processes do not include mechanisms that can take up lessons from experimentation, nor do they usually address conditions for the scaling up of transformative practices. The Connecting Nature project aims to co-develop the policy and practices necessary to scale up urban resilience, innovation and governance via nature-based solutions.
Currently, over 70% of Europe’s population live in cities, expected to increase to over 80% by the middle of the century. This translates to 36 million new urban citizens facing a broad range of challenges: from unsustainable urbanization and related human health issues to degradation and loss of natural capital, climate change and an increase of natural disaster risks. Nature-based solutions, which are inspired and supported by nature, provide multiple environmental, social and economic benefits. Nature-based solutions can therefore be a powerful way to strengthen urban resilience, resource efficiency and a greener economy. Because the development and implementation of nature-based solutions is complex, it requires a new approach of co-producing knowledge and capacity.
Connecting (COproductioN with NaturE for City Transitioning, INnovation and Governance) Nature is a HORIZON 2020 research and innovation project on accelerating the scaling of nature-based solutions in European cities. The overarching objective of Connecting is to position Europe as a global leader in the innovation and implementation of nature-based solutions for urban sustainability issues.
Connecting Nature
The project partners form a community fostering peer-to-peer, transdisciplinary capacity building between frontrunner, fast-follower and multiplier cities. To this end, the project employs an open innovation ecosystem approach bringing together city governments, small and medium enterprises, academia and civil society to co-produce actionable knowledge in all partner cities and to develop a process to bring this knowledge to 25 multiplier cities in Europe, Brazil, Central Asia, South Korea and China.
DRIFT’s team is coordinating the co-production of a new planning cycle with the involved cities and academic partners based on state-of-the-art knowledge about co-production and reflexive monitoring. This planning cycle is for city planners and policy makers that will connect experimentation and lessons to ongoing policy and market needs. It includes operational mechanisms to accelerate the scaling of nature based solutions as well as guiding principles for turning socio-economic and institutional barriers into opportunities. This is achieved by close interaction between the academic and city partners, to learn by doing and to iteratively reflect upon the steps that are being taken in ongoing nature-based solution projects.
Duration of the project
Connecting Nature runs from 2017 to 2021.
Connecting Nature is funded under the Horizon 2020 program (call SCC-02-2016-2017; Grant Agreement 730222) and includes 29 partners and 5 self-funded partners.
Marleen Lodder, Katharina Hölscher & Kato Allaert.
More information
For more information about the project, visit the Connecting Nature website, follow the project via Twitter or Facebook or read more about the UrbanByNature programme: an expertise-sharing and capacity-building programme for urban practitioners around the world. 
Related reads:

  • Blog: ‘Co-creating inclusive green cities: European examples and global learning opportunities’.  Link
  • Blog: ‘Seven lessons for planning nature-based solutions in cities’. Link
  • Publication: Niki Frantzeskaki, Timon McPhearson, Marcus J Collier, Dave Kendal, Harriet Bulkeley, Adina Dumitru, Claire Walsh, Kate Noble, Ernita van Wyk, Camilo Ordóñez, Cathy Oke, László Pintér, Nature-Based Solutions for Urban Climate Change Adaptation: Linking Science, Policy, and Practice Communities for Evidence-Based Decision-Making, BioScience, Volume 69, Issue 6, June 2019, Pages 455–466