CONNECTING NATURE: bringing nature into cities

nature-based solutions vertical garden in the city / soluciones basadas en la naturaleza
COproductioN with NaturE for City Transitioning, INnovation and Governance

Nature-based solutions (NBS) are living solutions inspired and supported by nature that simultaneously provide environmental, social and economic benefits and help to build resilience. These solutions bring more nature and natural features and processes into cities, landscapes and seascapes, through locally adapted, resource-efficient and systemic interventions. The idea of NBS has emerged as both a challenge and an opportunity to assist urban communities in the transition to sustainability.

Modern building and a tree

But NBS are still a complex problem for many city-makers, and there are still many obstacles (physical, cultural, ecological, legal, etc.) to embedding these kinds of solutions into urban planning, policy frameworks, and innovative city design. 

CONNECTING will establish the EU as a global leader for climate resilience, collaborative processes, and innovation for NBS by drawing on the experiences from three selected front-running cities in this project: Genk (Belgium), Glasgow (UK) and Poznan (Poland). The CONNECTING front-runner cities have been chosen due to their quality of NBS exemplars and of cross-silo thinking, and participatory co-creation processes.

The overarching objective of CONNECTING is to position Europe as a global leader in the innovation and implementation of nature-based solutions.

These cities have committed to scaling up and out these solutions at a city-wide systemic level and will work with eight fast-follower cities in a capacity-building role: A Coruña (Spain), Bologna (Italy), Burgas (Bulgaria), Ioannina (Greece), Malaga (Spain), Nicosia (Cyprus), Pavlos Melas (Greece) and Sarajevo (Bosnia & Herzegovina). These cities have the desire to scale up NBS, but currently lack the expertise.

A number of ‘multiplier’ cities in the Caucasus, China, Brazil and South Korea have also expressed an interest in CONNECTING, bringing the above-mentioned NBS to a global market.

Connecting Nature project consortiumThis way, CONNECTING will expand upon existing urban sustainability and innovation initiatives, create a reference framework of clear and useful indicators for the implementation and evaluation of NBS, build expertise and competency in all cities for innovative urban planning, policy and solution implementation, generate economic opportunities for a diversity of urban actors in Europe, and nurture urban community support, idea creation, active stakeholder participation and idea implementation at local levels and expansion and replication at a global level, through the global reach of ICLEI. In addition, all open-sourced data will be linked to the Oppla platform so as to ensure perpetuation beyond the end of the project.

  • Develop and test a global, comprehensive and robust mechanism that will be used to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of NBS implementation in cities
  • Develop an urban and master planning process that will ‘burst open’ silos, enrich and nurture social, business and governance innovations and focus on the scaling-up of NBS in cities by connecting policy and market needs and turning barriers into opportunities for innovations
  • Develop a guiding process for identifying funding and financial mechanisms that establish NBS as evinced valid solutions for sustainable and resilient cities that are climate prepared
  • Showcase, and share learning from, the scaling-up, replication and integration of NBS for city-making within front-runner cities
  • Implement resourced masterplans in the fast-follower cities, engage them in capacity-building and experiential learning building and secure adequate funding to realise an accelerator masterplan
  • Develop sustainable support for innovation, exploitation and enterprise development building on selected and promising new NBS exemplars from the front runner cities
  • Encourage reporting and information sharing by cities, globalise the CONNECTING process and promote the uptake of NBS in non-EU and non-European countries.
  • Building on the Quintuple Helix approach to open innovation, engage communities of interest and communities of influence
  • Optimise exploitation of project results through the development and implementation of an overall knowledge management strategy
  • Support the emergence, funding and growth of enterprises developing and supplying NBS through the inclusion of CONNECTING Enterprise Accelerator Programmes
  • Raise awareness among policy and decision makers about the CONNECTING evidence base and reference framework on NBS
  • Further develop the Oppla platform with more urban products and resources



Connecting nature logo

Project Data

  • Web:
  • Status: Active
  • Funding Programme: H2020
  • Contract Nº: 730222
  • Duration: 01/06/2017 – 31/05/2022 (60 months)
  • Budget: 12 002 568,37 € (EC contribution: 11 394 282,49 €)
  • Consortium:

TCD (Ireland)

COG (Belgium)



A Coruña City (Spain)

BOLOGNA (Italy) 

BURGAS (Bulgaria) 

IOANNINA (Greece) 

City of Malaga (Spain) 

ANEL (Cyprus) 

Pavlos Melas (Greece) 

SERDA (Bosnia and Herzegovina) 

CENS (Armenia)

DRIFT (Netherlands)

UEL (United Kingdom)

UDC (Spain)

UBER (Germany)

U. of Poznan (Poland)

NUID UCD (Ireland)

WU of TIMISOARA (Romania)

ABU (Ireland)


ClimateAlliance (Germany)


ICLEI EURO (Germany)

TTI (Germany)

GeoGraphic (Georgia)

UIRS (Slovenia)

Oppla (Netherlands)

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