In July 2022, Centre for Climate and Energy Transformation, University of Bergen summitted D4.5.1: Co-production and public participation in Nature-based Solutions for Cities: a discussion of research literature of VARCITIES project. Following, the summary and the main conclusion of the deliverable:
- NBS has become a key approach for major governance institutions such as the EU, and there are high ambitions for what NBS can achieve in cities. While earlier definitions of the term focused on climate change mitigation and biodiversity, approaches from the European Commission also emphasize economic growth, innovation and job creation.
- There is a danger of oversimplifying and overselling the concept. ‘Solutions’ might imply quick and clear outcomes. In reality, the research literature suggests that NBS implementation is a complicated process that requires continuous learning from past experiences and to evaluate different trade-offs.
- Multiple methods exist to include citizens in the design and implementation of solutions. Co-production and co-design methods, some of which are tested in the VARCITIES project, are considered some of the most inclusive and empowering strategies. Making full use of these methods requires dedication, resources and time.
- Citizen participation is constrained by practical concerns. A key constraint for NBS projects is that the solutions often have to be designed in advance in order to get funding and approval, and that citizens are therefore only included in the final implementation stage. It is also challenging to do justice to the diversity of citizens in cities within the financial and temporal constraints of specific projects.
- Key suggestions for improved participation in NBS are (1) to include citizens as early as possible in the design process, (2) foster good relationship between grassroots organization and the municipality, (3) involve citizens in the long-term care and maintenance of solutions, (4) make the benefits from NBS solutions clear and broadly accessible. The research literature offers a wide range of case studies where these methods are discussed in specific contexts.