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  • Writer's pictureSofa Summits

UNaLAB: Nature-Based Solutions for Urban Challenges

The UNaLAB project is yet another project funded by the European Union under the Horizon 2020 program. It is aimed at finding responses to climate change in a sustainable way, through nature-based solutions. The goal of the project is to demonstrate innovative systems for water management using an ecological approach.

Aim of the UNALAB Project

All around the world, major transformations are occurring, and the environment is becoming more and more vulnerable and exposed to risk factors, most of these are related to climate change and due to continuous urban development. The nature-based solutions proposed in this project aim to solve urban challenges through the use of nature rather than working against it. This way, ecological goals will be met while creating social and economic innovation. The UNaLAB project gathers 29 partners from 10 countries across Europe and beyond. The innovative activities included in UNALAB are aimed to create a solid base of data, enabling the development of a European framework for nature-based solutions. This framework can then be applied by local and regional authorities, companies, communities, and anyone else interested in developing smart cities which are sustainable, recoverable and ecological.

Concept behind UNaLAB

UNaLAB’s concept is based on the implementation of demonstration areas to validate the nature-based solutions. To do this, urban labs will be established in three lighthouse cities: Tampere, Eindhoven and Geneva. These labs will firstly make an analysis of urban climate and water changes, on the back of this research and analysis the nature based solutions will be implemented and piloted.

Then it will be time for the following cities to replicate. At this stage each of the nature-based solutions will be supported with a business model that can ensure innovation and an effective cost-result relation. After this is presented, the solutions will be tested under the innovative governmental guidelines and schemes given to the five following cities of Cannes, Prague, Başakşehir, Castellón, and Stavanger. The following cities must then join the lighthouse cities to work with a collaborative approach in the development of individual roadmaps.

Three non-European follower and observer cities will be learning from all of this: Hong Kong, Buenos Aires, and Guangzhou, with the goal of expanding this project worldwide.

Part of the challenge for smart cities is to work more closely with the natural ecology that they have in their particular city. Developments should not only be technology for the sake of technology, by creating solutions that have nature at the heart of them cities will be able to create a much more sustainable future and have a positive impact on the health of citizens too.


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