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Cities turn to nature-based solutions

The cities will bring in local residents and businesses to collaboratively decide, design and build solutions in key districts

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Cities involved in the European-funded project are already working on green interventions
Cities involved in the European-funded project are already working on green interventions

Hamburg, London and Milan are spearheading a project that sets out to tackle urban problems with nature-based solutions.

 

Thirty-three cities and organisations in Europe, South America and China have launched the international European-funded CLEVER Cities project, which will use natural interventions, such as building new green spaces, to address social, economic and environmental problems.

 

The cities will bring in local residents and businesses to collaboratively decide, design and build nature-based solutions in key districts affected by issues like high crime rates, social inequality, unemployment and child poverty.

“Smart cities respond to the challenge of interoperability between technological systems,” said Holger Robrecht, ICLEI, Local Governments for Sustainability. “We believe that in CLEVER Cities we should go beyond that: it also responds to the challenge of interoperability of environmental, economic and societal systems.”

The green interventions will include a green corridor along a railway line in Milan, redevelopment of part of the Thamesmead area of London and nature-based solutions in a district of Hamburg, where half of the inhabitants have an immigrant background and where major new housing developments are planned including refugee accommodation.

“The buildings in Neugraben-Fischbek are from the 1960s and 1970s and the unemployment rate in Neugraben-Fischbek is remarkably higher than that of the rest of Hamburg,” said Thomas Jacob, Senate Chancellery Hamburg and project coordinator.

 

“It is one of the fastest growing areas in Hamburg and the community there is diverse and multicultural with huge potential. I am sure we can find some nature-based solutions, with which we can solve problems together.”

Other cities in Europe and South America working on stimulating ecological solutions locally include Sfantu Gheorghe, Quito, Madrid, Belgrade, Larissa and Malmö. Chinese research organisations and cities are also involved.

Marie Yeroyanni, senior expert in Innovating Cities at the European Commission’s Directorate General for Research and Innovation, said: “This is a very timely moment, because it’s the moment the European Commission is launching its strategic agenda for cities and citizens.

 

“The nature-based solutions are not isolated, but they are the glue in the intersection of a wider approach. CLEVER Cities commits to developing the European research and innovation agenda for innovating cities.”

 

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