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Israa H. Mahmoud • Eugenio Morello
Fabiano LemesdeOliveira • Davide Geneletti
Nature-based Solutions for
Sustainable Urban Planning
Greening Cities, Shaping Cities
ISSN 2522-8404 ISSN 2522-8412 (electronic)
Contemporary Urban Design Thinking
ISBN 978-3-030-89524-2 ISBN 978-3-030-89525-9 (eBook)
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Israa H. Mahmoud
Laboratorio di Simulazione Urbana Fausto
Curti, Department of Architecture and
Urban Studies (DAStU)
Politecnico di Milano
Department of Architecture and Urban
Studies – (DAStU)
Politecnico di Milano
Laboratorio di Simulazione Urbana Fausto
Curti, Department of Architecture and
Urban Studies (DAStU)
Politecnico di Milano
Department of Civil, Environmental
and Mechanical Engineering
University of Trento
For nature-based solutions, researchers,
academics, and practitioners.
This book is for you.
-Israa, Eugenio, Fabiano, and Davide.
This book discusses the hiccups of current urban planning practices for the delivery
of nature-based solutions, such as the lack of alignment between the approaches to
solve environmental and socio-economic urban challenges, siloed decision-making,
and uncoordinated urban land-use dynamics, revealing the current barriers for NBS
upscaling and impact assessment. The book gives insights on spatial planning
approaches related to different NBS typologies considering various scales. Taking
the reader through case studies, the authors reect on land-use cover and space
availability challenges for NBS implementation, providing insights on analytical
methods such as quantitative performance criteria, impact assessment frameworks
and monitoring software to foster NBS integration into the urban planning practice.
Finally, the reader has the opportunity to dive into a set of cases highlighting col-
laborative governance experiences and experimental decision-making processes for
NBS planning. It is a must-read for anyone who is interested in understanding and
overcoming the current barriers and creating new opportunities and pathways to
effectively mainstream NBS in urban planning practice and policies.
Senior Ofcer for Nature-Based Solutions and Biodiversity DanielaRizzi
This edited book originates from the fruitful discussions during the Greening Cities
Shaping Cities international research symposium1 held in Milan, Italy, on October
12 and 13, 2020. In this collection of chapters, we deal with two important aspects
of nature-based solutions (NBS) assessment and implementation in urban planning
policies: (1) spatial challenges of NBS in practice and mainstreaming NBS in urban
planning policies and decision-making processes; (2) shared governance, capacity
building, and citizen engagement in urban greening processes and co-design experi-
ences of NBS.We divided the book in two parts that collectively give results on
spatial planning and case studies of NBS.
When we launched the open call for the Greening Cities Shaping Cities symposium
(hereafter GCSC), the aim was to address the following question: How are urban
greening strategies, policies, and measures re-shaping cities? Here, “shaping” is
intended in terms of (1) physical layout and urban morphology, and (2) governance
approaches and practices within urban policies.
Answers to this question were provided from a range of disciplines (e.g., urban
and environmental planning, urban design, architecture, and ecology), as well as
from interdisciplinary research, which present an updated overview over a complex
up-running process on the integration of greening solutions into the urban land-
scape. Recent experiences in practice (city wide and community-scale) and new
scientic methods and approaches are discussed here.
In particular, after the European Commission launched the call in 2015 for
promoting the concept of NBS in strict connection with inclusivity and shared
governance approaches, we can now collect and show some ongoing results,
especially through the numerous Horizon 2020 projects that have been funded
under this stream and whose seeds are bearing fruit. This volume includes results
from some of these projects, in particular URBINAT, Nature4cities, and
CLEVER Cities, the latter is the co-promoter and co-founder of the GCSC initia-
tive together with Department of Architecture and Urban Studies (DAStU)
Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy. The book also broadened out its scope and
reach by including other scientic contributions from scholars working on other
NBS projects worldwide.
In this book, we present a critical perspective of recent achievements and chal-
lenges related to urban planning and implementing NBS in cities, as well as a dis-
cussion on future directions in this eld. In addition, the book showcases examples
on how the NBS can be implemented in theory and practice to promote sustainable
The book is structured into two parts, as illustrated below.
Planning NBS inCities: Insights andMethods
In this part, we tackle the spatial challenges related to NBS impact analysis and
methods related to assessment of NBS potential in cities at different spatial scales.
Since NBS have different typologies and spatial scales of implementation, this part
addresses the questions of NBS types, physical and land-use change related to NBS
implementation in practice. How are the greening cities strategies tangibly affecting
urban morphologies and shaping our cities today? How consciously are cities
addressing and envisioning the outcomes of greening measures?
The rst subsection looks specically to how we tackle the urban greening strat-
egies related to physical and urban design of NBS, land-use cover, and land-use
availability. Those greening strategies when put in place are strongly tied to urban
and regional (macro and micro) spatial scales of implementation; nonetheless, the
practice hand side emphasizes the lack of coordination between land-use planning
and pressuring environmental planning strategies. This gap is often addressed in
climate risk planning adaptation and mitigation measures for future scenarios but
decient on the urban planning resilience planning measures due to authorities’
silos and mismatching urban governance mechanisms.
Chapter 1, by Frantzeskaki, Mahmoud and Morello, reects on cities chal-
lenges, opportunities, and capacities to implement NBS based on the resilience dis-
course that arose on how the greening cities actions are inuencing the urban
planning policies and shaping cities by consequences.
Chapter 2, by Geneletti etal., presents a performance-based planning approach
to mainstream nature-based solutions in cities through the analysis of ecosystem
services supply and demand. The approach is applied to the city of Trento (Italy), by
simulating the implementation of a set of urban transformations included in the cur-
rent Urban Plan.
The following subsection introduces case studies that have proven a possibility
to assess performance-based planning approaches to integrate NBS into planning
policies (by using quantitative performance criteria, impact assessment, authoriza-
tion into building codes, etc.); moreover, we dive into the relationship between NBS
impact on human comfort and climate resilience through analytical tools and
Chapter 3, by Ronchi and Salata, investigate the case of Settimo Milanese
(Metropolitan area of Turin, Piedmont region, Northwest Italy) by testing a method-
ology for selecting urban green spaces with high performance in terms of biodiver-
sity conservation, which can be involved in a Green Infrastructure(GI) strategy as a
multifunctional structure that combines different Ecosystem Services (ES).
Chapter 4, by Lemes de Oliveira etal., present a framework for the identica-
tion of challenges, and the planning and implementation of NBS considering the
complexities of environment-culture-technology nexus in cities from the develop-
ing world, in particular Brazil.
Implementing NBS inCities: Case-Study Applications
In this part, we present case studies from different urban settings, which deal with
local regeneration processes that changed cities’ physical organization and enhance-
ment of biodiversity, meanwhile looking at implementing NBS through performance-
based planning instead of policy-based planning on the long term.
The rst subsection focuses on answering the following questions: What are the
hindrances and bottlenecks in implementing, maintaining, and up-scaling NBS in
real-life cases implementation? Are the current decision-making mechanisms help-
ing NBS getting in route to shape cities? Is there any binding policy in practice that
Chapter 5, by Canto Moniz etal., report the experience from URBiNAT project
by promoting an inclusive urban regeneration that includes citizens and stakehold-
ers in all the stages of the co-creation process. The several living labs of the seven
URBiNAT cities share their knowledge through a Community of Practice that is in
dialogue with the cities and the wider world. Altogether, they aim to implement a
cluster of NBS that are also human centered in order to constitute a Healthy Corridor
that not only impacts the environment but also the well-being of the community.
Chapter 6, by Peluchetti etal., analyze the main barriers and opportunities for
the exploitation of innovative green solutions from the experience of Nature4Cities
project. Through a case study in Milan, a framework of NBS effectiveness
assessment approach is presented, as well as an analysis of the main stakeholders
involved in the process to evaluate the main barriers.
In the second subsection, we look at how the pressing climate change challenges
led cities, local governments, and urban alliances to work cooperatively to reduce
the environmental risk and downscale the temperature increase effects. The chapters
show that NBS still lack a binding policy to be majorly advanced in urban contexts
mainstreaming. Furthermore, experimental decision-making mechanisms in cities
paved the way to think on multilayered-stakeholder types and levels; we investigate
whether this multiplicity helped the implementation pathway to spread out from
small NBS actions towards wider urban-scale interventions in cities.
Chapter 7, by Neves etal., look at the NBS implementation in the Metropolitan
Region of Campinas (São Paulo, Brazil). This chapter describes how the Municipality
of Campinas and the 19 cities from its highly urbanized and industrialized regions
have articulated the RECONECTA-RMC program, proposing a connectivity area
that conjoins environmentally relevant areas of the region with the goal to protect
fauna and ora, building environmental resilience and genetic ow between
Chapter 8, by Hosseinalizadeh, Mahmoud, and Morello, look at the experience
of post-evaluation of an NBS case study by analyzing the safety and security per-
ception in Biblioteca degli Alberi (BAM– Library of Trees) Park in Milan, Italy.
The chapter is also situated as an actual case study that reects on urban design
elements that help NBS such as the BAM to thrive with relationship to socio-
economic conditions and local community engagement.
Milan, Italy IsraaH.Mahmoud
Milan, Italy EugenioMorello
Milan, Italy FabianoLemesde Oliveira
Trento, Italy DavideGeneletti
About This Book and Outlook
From this book experience, numerous challenges on NBS planning, implementa-
tion, and subsequent stewardship were identied:
1. The positioning of NBS in relation to other concepts, such as Green and Blue
Infrastructure (GBI), Ecosystem Services (ES) and Ecosystem-based
Adaptation (EbA). We are used to follow trends, embed concepts that might
appear as buzz words, if inappropriately used. Hence, a deeper critical under-
standing and examination of these concepts and mutual relationshipsandover-
lapping is needed.
2. NBS represent important, tangible design features; a physical matter requiring a
physical space, with specic and numerous peculiarities. (1) Spatial occupation
requires choosing among concurrent solutions (choosing green instead of other
assets is not banal). (2) Nature is a constantly evolving dynamic system, which
requires maintenance, hence has a cost.
3. NBS, since its original denition by ICUN and EC, link social and ecological
aspects; under this opening to social domain, we can recognize several chal-
lenges: (1) Democracy, in terms of shared governance and decision-making; if
NBS only work with multi-actor partnerships, inclusion has to be boosted from
the very beginning of each pathway and process; hence, this book intro-
ducesapproaches and methods to promote real inclusivity and collaboration in
dening shared solutions. (2) Value proposition forassessing the effectiveness
of greensolutions, impacts, co-benets, and evaluation approaches; all these are
very complex challengesof NBS, and require a holistic approach beyond short-
term economic gains, and exploring instead other criteria of value capture,
including non-material benets and beyond.
Finally, from the experiences collected in this book, new questions and investi-
gations related to urban greening are emerging,even if not directly addressed.
From a very human-centered approach to NBS we will moveto a nature-
driven approach. In fact,emerging attention to biodiversity and nature rightsare
entering the domain of urban planning:
– Biodiversity: again, through the strong EC commitment with the launch of the
new EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy, which repositions nature on topof societal
priorities, maybe even above climate change adaptation challenges; if the bio-
sphere fails, all the other domains will collapse anyway.
– Plant rights, nature rights, and plant ethics remind us that nature cannot sim-
ply be intended and “used” as a solution, but must be reinterpreted as a partner,
a stakeholder in the process, to sit at the table when it comes to decision-making.
In other words, nature should be regarded as a city user and a stakeholder in the
decision-making process, hence the need to be inclusive with nature.
Finally, co-evolution of urban systems with nature is the next frontier. This
book does not only integrate NBS into the urban-scapes but approaches urban
design and planning from the perspective that cities are places for man and nature
simultaneously. In the near future, the design of the built environment will embed
nature in a much deeper way, and this revolution has just started.
• Includes analytical methods to support city-wide decision-making on the assess-
ment and integration of NBS in urban regeneration processes
• Illustrates lessons learned on how to effectively mainstream NBS in urban plan-
ning practice and policies
• Reports experiences of co-creation processes of NBS in the urban context as
attempts to promote shared governance in urban greening practices
About This Book and Outlook
The editors would like to thank all the following reviewers for providing critical
insights and constructive feedback to the book chapters anonymously.
Alessandro Arlati, HafenCity University Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany.
Cecilia Herzog, Pontical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de
Francesco Scorza, University of Basilicata, Basilicata, Italy.
Giorgos Somarakis, Foundation for Research and Technology– Hellas (FORTH),
Giuseppe Salvia, University College of London (UCL)– Institute for Environmental
Design and Engineering (IEDE)– London, UK.
Jannes Williams, University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Judit Boros, Central European University, Vienna, Austria.
Juliana Alencar, Rural Federal University of Pernambuco, Brazil.
Niki Frantzeskaki, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia.
Sara Gaudio, University of Calabria, Calabria, Italy.
Part I Planning NBS in Cities: Insights and Methods
on Spatial Challenges
1 Nature-Based Solutions for Resilient and Thriving Cities:
Opportunities and Challenges for Planning Future Cities . . . . . . . . . 3
Niki Frantzeskaki, Israa H. Mahmoud, and Eugenio Morello
2 Mainstreaming Nature-Based Solutions in Cities Through
Performance- Based Planning: A Case Study in Trento, Italy . . . . . . . 19
Davide Geneletti, Chiara Cortinovis, Maria Susana Orta-Ortiz,
Jarumi Kato- Huerta, Davide Longato, and Enzo Falco
3 Insights for the Enhancement of Urban Biodiversity
Using Nature-Based Solutions: The Role of Urban Spaces
in Green Infrastructures Design . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47
Silvia Ronchi and Stefano Salata
4 The Environment-Culture-Technology Nexus Framework:
An Approach for Assessing the Challenges and Opportunities
for Implementing Nature-Based Solutions in Brazil . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69
Fabiano Lemes de Oliveira, Maria do Carmo de Lima Bezerra,
Tarek Teba, and Aline da Nóbrega Oliveira
Part II Implementing NBS in Cities: Case-Study Applications
5 Inclusive Urban Regeneration with Citizens and Stakeholders:
From Living Labs to the URBiNAT CoP . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105
Gonçalo Canto Moniz, Ingrid Andersson,
Knud Erik Hilding- Hamann, Américo Mateus,
and Nathalie Nunes
6 Nature4Cities. Tools for Implementation of Nature-Based
Solutions in City Context: The Case Study of Milan . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147
Alessia Peluchetti, Mohamed Elagiry, Domenico Perdo,
Mario Cortese, and Andrea Costa
7 The Implementation of Connectivity Area
in the Metropolitan Region of Campinas (São Paulo, Brazil):
Biodiversity Integration Through Regional
Environmental Planning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171
Gabriel Dias Mangolini Neves, Sandrine Giancristófaro Gouvêa,
Angela Cruz Guirao, Carla de Souza Camarneiro,
Mario Jorge Bonfante Lançone, Larissa Miranda Heinisch,
Sophia Bujnicki Neves Picarelli, Rebeca Veiga Barbosa,
and Ana Paula Pellegrino
8 A Deduced Method for Assessing Safety and Security Perception:
Case Study of Biblioteca Degli Alberi Park in Milan, Italy . . . . . . . . 199
Saghar Hosseinalizadeh, Israa H. Mahmoud, and Eugenio Morello
About the Editors
IsraaH.Mahmoud is an Architect and Urban Planner by education. She holds a
Ph.D. in urban regeneration. Since 2018, she is a post-Doc research fellow at the
Laboratorio di Simulazione Urbana Fausto Curti, Department of Architecture and
Urban Studies (DAStU), at the Politecnico di Milano. Now she is the research team
leader together with Prof. Eugenio Morello on Clever Cities, a European
Commission– Horizon 2020 Funded Project, as an expert of co-creation guidance
for cities to implement Nature-based solutions in socially inclusive urban regenera-
tion processes. Between 2016 and 2017, shetook part in a European Commission–
MARIE-CURIE Action funded Horizon 2020 Project– MAPS-LED Project as an
(ESR) early-stage researcher, and later as an experienced researcher (ER) at San
Diego State University, CA, USA.At Politecnico di Milano, she also lectures about
Nature-based solutions in the Master of Science in “Urban Planning and Policy
Design”, as well as in the Master of “Sustainable Aarchitecture and Landscape
Design”. Lately, she co-led the “Greening Cities, Shaping Cities” International
Symposium at the Politecnico di Milano, in October 2020.
Eugenio Morello An architect by education, Eugenio Morello is Associate
Professor of Urban Design at the Politecnico di Milano, Department of Architecture
and Urban Studies (DAStU). He is coordinator and research scientist at the
Laboratorio di Simulazione Urbana Fausto Curti (since 2010) and the Climate
Change Risk and Resilience Lab (since 2020). Since 2017, he is the rector’s dele-
gate for environmental sustainability. He is the department principal investigator of
the European H2020 projects “Clever Cities” and “Sharing Cities”. His research
interest is situated in the interplay between urban design and environmental quality,
climate design, resilience, and adaptation to climate change. He investigates the
integration of environmental aspects and energy transition solutions for the design
of sustainable neighborhoods towards the closing of energy and environmental
cycles. More recently, his research work has opened new insights on the topic of
collaborative consumption and sharing society and how these new paradigms can
inform urban planning, urban design, and co-creation approaches.
FabianoLemes de Oliveira Prof. Lemes is Associate Professor of Urbanism in
the Department of Architecture and Urban Studies at Politecnico di Milano. Prof.
Lemes joined Politecnico di Milano in 2019 after working over 10years at the
University of Portsmouth in the United Kingdom. His research lies at the intersec-
tion of urban and environmental planning, with a focus on the relationships between
city and nature, and the roles of green space systems and planning models in city
and regional planning. Recent research areas include green urbanism, planning his-
tory, nature-based solutions, urban design theory and practice, urban sustainability,
and planning models aimed at balancing urbanization with nature– in particular
related to the green wedge idea and green infrastructure. He is the author of the
book Green Wedge Urbanism: History, Theory and Contemporary Practice, pub-
lished by Bloomsbury (London/New York), and has co-edited the book Planning
Cities with Nature: Theories, Strategies and Methods, published by Springer
Davide Geneletti Davide is Associate Professor of Spatial Planning at the
University of Trento. Specialized in impact assessment of projects, plans, and poli-
cies; spatial and urban planning; ecosystem services; and multicriteria analysis.
Formerly research fellow at Harvard University’s Sustainability ScienceProgram
(2010–11) and visiting scholar at Stanford University’s Woods Institute for the
Environment (2014). He has consulted for private and public bodies internationally,
including the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), UN-HABITAT,
and the European Commission.Davide was former editor-in-chief of the Journal of
Environmental Assessment Policy and Management and deputy editor of the open
access journal One Ecosystem. He has been principal investigator/work package
leader in over 15 international research projects. Davide obtained his PhD from Free
About the Editors