Connecting Nature

Cities are a great place for transitions, providing spaces where transformative change can be scaled and amplified. Nature-based solutions can bring that change: they promise economic, environmental and social co-benefits, while also building resilience and benefiting biodiversity. But traditional public (spatial) planning processes cannot always realise this potential for cities and can even become counterproductive.
In Connecting Nature, DRIFT cooperated – in Europe and beyond – with local authorities, communities, industry partners, NGOs and academics to harvest lessons from cities that are co-producing the right policy and practice for scaling up nature–based projects in urban settings.

What is the impact of the Connecting Nature Framework?

City changes, problems and 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, contribute to biodiversity while providing multiple environmental, social and economic benefits. Examples include pocket parks to boost quality of living, communal neighborhood gardens to connect different groups and organisations, or blue-green-infrastructure that benefits local enterprises. Nature-based solutions can be a powerful way to strengthen urban resilience, resource efficiency and the green economy. Because the development and implementation of nature-based solutions is complex, it requires a new approach of co-producing knowledge and capacity.
How DRIFT is connecting nature
One of DRIFT’s contributions to the Connecting Nature project is that we co-produced the Connecting Nature Framework together with many academic partners, cities and SMEs across Europe. It’s a tool for city-planners and city-makers: a holistic framework that employs three phases and seven elements to help you harness the transformative potential of nature-based solutions in your city.
The Connecting Nature Framework

To introduce this framework, Connecting Nature created eight mini guidebooks. DRIFT produced the first, for the framework as a whole, which you can download here. And if you are not one for reading, you can also watch the video below:

DRIFT supports the Connecting Nature community of European cities with the co-production of their nature-based solutions. We also facilitate reflexive learning by translating reflexive monitoring methods to the cities’ context. More information can be found in the two practical guides we produced.

>>> Click here to download the Reflexive Monitoring and the Co-Production guidebook.
Below, you can also find two video of citymakers in the project reflecting on the successes and struggles of these elements. You can find more experiences in this YouTube playlist.

DRIFT further contributes to the Connecting Nature Urban by Nature program by developing teaching materials on our three main contributions (the framework, co-production and reflexive monitoring). For example, we contributed to the Brazilian stream Webinar #2 “How to co-create nature-based solutions?” , Webinar # 7 “Reflexive Monitoring and Process Indicators for NBS” and the Caucasus Stream Webinar #3 “Is there a framework for nature-based solutions in your city?
More about the project
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.
Coordinated by Trinity College Dublin, Connecting Nature is a consortium of over 30 partners within 16 European countries, and hubs in Brazil, China, Korea & The Caucasus (Georgia and Armenia). 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 spread this knowledge to all involved.
Connecting Nature ran from 2017 to 2022.
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 (reflexive monitoring), Katharina Hölscher & Carien van der Have (co-production), Kato Allaert (framework), Wouter Mulders (communications), Marieke Verhagen & Giorgia Silvestri (education)
Read more
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
  • Publication: Frantzeskaki, N., Vandergert, P., Connop, S., Schipper, K., Zwierzchowska, I., Collier, M., & Lodder, M. (2020). Examining the policy needs for implementing nature-based solutions in cities: Findings from city-wide transdisciplinary experiences in Glasgow (UK), Genk (Belgium) and Poznań (Poland). Land Use Policy, 96, 104688