Greening cities: the case of Malaga and Nature-Based Solutions

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The summer school “Greening cities: Nature-Based Solutions” took place from September 14 to 17 and had the Bioazul team teaching some of its modules.

The International University of Andalusia (UNIA) organized the course under the direction of Enrique Salvo-Tierra (professor at the University of Malaga) and Andrés Alcántara Valero (Corporate Department of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature for the Mediterranean – IUCN-Med). The aim of the programmed sessions was to demonstrate the potential of Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) by conducting a review of the most relevant good practices in the European, national and local Mediterranean area by leading experts. As we are currently facing great challenges such as unsustainable urbanization, loss of biodiversity, climate change and natural disasters, implementing green infrastructures or NBS are presented as a safe solution to face all these challenges. The course took place at the Pompidou Center in Malaga and had the participation of 29 students interested in learning and getting to know in detail what the advantages of NBS are.

Our CEO Antonia Lorenzo explained the role of blue infrastructures, alone or in combination with NBS, in our cities in a context of climate change. She highlighted the importance of sustainable management of water resources in a context of climate change and population growth, as they influence the availability and quantity of this resource, its quality and the natural disasters associated with water. Antonia asserted the role of blue infrastructures, alone or combined with green and gray infrastructures, for the integrated planning and management of water and associated ecosystems, to mitigate the effects of climate change, the achievement of the SDGs and the Paris Agreement. She presented, together with Rubén Mora from Rizoma Foundation, some examples of projects on the use of reclaimed water (in which Bioazul is involved) such as RichWater, PAVITR and FIT4REUSE, nature-based solutions, like the sustainable urban drainage system installed in the School “LUIS BUÑUEL” located in Málaga (GCMP. Resilient Landscapes) and the renaturalisation of the Guadalmedina River in Málaga (Rizoma Fundación).

Our colleague Gerardo González (Bioazul) and Cristian García-Espina (Promálaga) presented the Connecting Nature project and its application in the city of Malaga. The presentation included some of the most outstanding activities and tools developed to date, such as the alignment of strategies and objectives of the pilot cities with the Sustainable Development Goals, or the review and publication of 93 environmental indicators to measure the impact of NBS in cities.

The results of the survey on Nature-Based Enterprises (NBEs), carried out within the frame of Connecting Nature, were also shared with the aim of deepening and identifying what an EbN is, what the opportunities and challenges they currently face are, and how such organizations can help cities maximize the social, economic and environmental potential of nature-based solutions.

On the other hand, the Nature-based Enterprises Platform, which was developed during the last months and has just been launched, was unveiled. The platform will serve to:

  1. Locate and connect entities that offer products and services related to NBS with stakeholders interested in acquiring them.
  2. Get ideas and inspiration to innovate in the field of NBS.
  3. Explore funding and collaboration opportunities with other entities.
  4. Connect policy makers and legislators with industry professionals.

Likewise, the platform will allow users to share obstacles or challenges identified in order to obtain support from other entities, as well as to announce job offers or financing opportunities, among others. We encourage you to register on the platform, either as a company related to the NBS or as a private user, by clicking here.

Finally, a practical exercise based on the Lagunillas neighborhood of Malaga was proposed to the attendees. A brief social, economic and environmental contextualization of the territory was carried out and participants were asked to propose nature-based solutions to address some of the challenges identified. The NBS were proposed by using the Business Model Canvas for NBS created within the framework of the Connecting Nature project. The model should be used in the initial planning process of a NBS, and has been developed together with the 11 pilot cities participating in the project. Thus, the participants were able to design a long-term sustainable business model associated with the NBS proposed, identifying the necessary activities, resources, key partners, governance model, and the cost structure, among others. The guide translated into Spanish is available at: https://connectingnature.eu/sites/default/files/downloads/NBS-BMC-Spanish.pdf.

The students also enjoyed a field trip to undertake a territorial analysis of the city and nature through the Costa del Sol, visiting different areas of the city of Malaga.

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