Nature-based solutions for climate-resilient cities
Can your city weather a changing climate? Cities are challenged to deliver sustainable, resilient infrastructure and services in an increasingly volatile climate. VTT works to develop and evaluate innovative nature-based solutions (NbS) to help cities around the world to mitigate and overcome challenges related to climate change, extreme weather, biodiversity loss, disaster risk, and more.
Key facts: nature-based solutions for climate-resilient cities
The increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events demands new solutions from cities.
Nature-based and integrated blue-green-grey solutions use natural features and ecological processes to address societal challenges.
Nature-based solutions can support the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the EU Green Deal and other policy targets advancing the development of resilience transformations that equally benefit people and planet.
VTT creates innovative, customised nature-based solutions and supports the evaluation of their contribution to addressing climate- and water-related challenges within an integrated urban ecological framework.
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Extreme weather events put cities at risk
The increased frequency and intensity of extreme weather events drives global climate adaptation efforts. Cities around the world face different risks, but often, the most effective solutions to enhance resilience and mitigate risks are inspired by nature’s own processes. At VTT, we combine our expertise in social-ecological-technological systems analysis, blue, green and grey infrastructure design, and NbS impact assessment to engage stakeholders in robust NbS design, implementation and management processes.
Due to rapidly increasing urbanisation, cities increasingly face challenges resulting from the impacts of climate change, including intensifying climatic extremes, leading to environmental degradation and biodiversity decline. Urban areas are particularly vulnerable to events such as flooding and increased surface runoff as impenetrable soil surfaces like roads, parking lots, sidewalks, and buildings prevent water from infiltrating. That influences water pollution, reduces recharge of groundwater resources, and places increased pressure on ageing infrastructures. Other climatic extremes such as heat pose additional health and environmental risks as dense urban areas tend to experience substantially higher temperatures than less dense suburban or rural areas during warm months. NbS are designed to address an array of urban challenges. In response to some of the more common challenges faced by urban areas, NbS actions can:
- Reduce the incidence and severity of flooding by providing a natural means of water retention and/or infiltration (e.g., rain gardens, infiltration basins, and retention or detention ponds). See examples of the NbS implemented in Tampere.
- Improve surface water quality by filtering runoff (e.g., biofilters, swales, and wetlands). An example is the biofilter implemented to filter runoff from roads in Vantaa implemented through the Stormfilter project.
- Reduce urban heating by moderating the local microclimate (e.g., trees, parks, gardens, and green infrastructure such as green roofs and walls). See examples of the NbS implemented to reduce urban heating in Eindhoven.
- Foster social connections and contribute to improved human health and well-being (e.g., community gardens and multifunctional green spaces like those implemented in Genova)
Innovating with nature for climate-resilient cities
The integration of green and blue elements with conventional grey infrastructure provides a cost-effective means to increase urban climate and water resilience, and to enhance biodiversity. Local and regional ecosystems provide essential natural capital for climate change adaptation. Nature-based solutions (NbS) establish or increase the connectivity between the built environment and the biosphere, improving urban areas’ resilience to climate change through provision of ecosystem services that mediate the impacts of climatic stressors.
Nature-based solutions (UNaLab project, EviBAN project) and integrated blue-green-grey solutions (Stormfilter project, CLASS project) use natural features and ecosystem-based processes to address societal challenges such as flooding, environmental pollution, biodiversity decline, and human well-being. A unique aspect of NbS is their ability to simultaneously provide multiple environmental, social and economic co-benefits while building resilience to the impacts of climate change. Some of the more common NbS include multifunctional green spaces, rain gardens and green roofs used to manage stormwater runoff, attenuate urban heat islands and abate pollution.
Collaborate with us on nature-based and hybrid urban solutions
VTT can work with you to engage stakeholders within collaborative design, implementation and management processes, including NbS co-creation and the development and execution of a monitoring and evaluation plan that considers the full range of benefits and trade-offs of NbS across ecological, social, technological, and economic domains. VTT’s multi-disciplinary experts apply advanced know-how to create innovative NbS and integrated blue-green-grey concepts tailored to specific environments and customer needs. We work with our clients to deliver smart, reliable and sustainable solutions whilst optimising the multiple potential co-benefits. When it comes to NbS, there is no one-size fits all solution. Let VTT provide the expert guidance needed to successfully design, implement, and evaluate the impacts of your unique NbS.
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