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Urban Nature: Connecting Cities, Sustainability and Innovations

part of the greening the economy series


How can nature help us design and build our cities?


Nature-based solutions have the potential to provide multiple benefits across a range of sustainability challenges facing cities. They can help to limit the impacts of climate change, enhance biodiversity and improve environmental quality while contributing to economic activities and social well-being. But what are nature-based solutions? Examples include green roofs and city parks that reduce heat, city lagoons that can store water as well as vegetation and rain gardens to intercept storm water. 

This course explores nature-based solutions in cities in Europe and around the world. It connects the key themes of nature, cities and innovation. It discusses how to assess what nature-based solutions can achieve in cities and examines how innovation is taking place in cities. Moreover, it analyses the potential of nature-based solutions to help respond to climate change and sustainability challenges. 

This course combines both technical knowledge and the social sciences to better understand nature-based solutions in a holistic perspective. New governance arrangements, business models and financing, forms of citizen engagement and innovation pathways will be needed to make the promise of nature-based solutions a reality. The learning in this course builds on a collection of diverse films and key short readings on nature-based solutions as well as interactive forums and practical assignments to create an online learning community for nature-based solution in an urban world. 

Week 1: International overview of nature-based solutions. In this week the concept of nature-based solutions is presented and discussed with examples that explore the opportunities, benefits and challenges associated with mainstreaming nature-based solutions. 

Week 2: Assessment methods for nature-based solutions. In this week you learn about assessment and valuation methods in the context of different perspectives on cities, nature and innovation. 

Week 3: Governance strategies for nature-based solutions. This week presents the concept of governance and discusses examples and the role of collaboration and engaging citizens and communities. 

Week 4: Business models for nature-based solutions. This week examines the role of business models and role of financing is investigated and illustrated through examples and experiences with nature-based solutions. 

Week 5: Innovation pathways for nature-based solutions. This week discusses the role of visions and pathways is discussed with examples of nature-based solutions and different ways of working with nature, cities and innovation. 

  • In total 35 films and 6 instructors.
  • 5 weeks duration, approximately 5 hours per week.
  • You may transfer to later sessions to extend the course.

This course was developed in cooperation with: Durham University and Utrecht University.


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