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Special Issue "Nature-Based Solutions—Concept, Evaluation, and Governance"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2020) | Viewed by 19073

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Gerd Lupp
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Chair for Strategic Landscape Planning and Management, Technical University of Munich, Emil-Ramann-Str. 6, 85354 Freising, Germany
Interests: Nature-Based Solutions; ecosystem services; urban forestry; human–nature relations and interactions (especially related to recreational use); sustainable use of natural resources; renewable energies
Dr. Aude Zingraff-Hamed
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Faculty of Landscape Architecture and Landscape Planning, Technische Universität München, 80333 München, Germany
Interests: river restoration; urban river; socio-ecological system; urban climate; nature-based solution; sustainable flood protection; ecosystem services; environmental resilience; climate adaptation

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

'Nature-Based Solutions' is a rapidly evolving topic that has gained increasing attention and is now at the top of political agendas worldwide. The international commitments to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees by the end of the century requires rapid development of new adaption strategies. Novel approaches are needed not only to limit global warming, but also to face the predicted changes in weather patterns caused by climate change that result in more frequent severe weather events and increased hazard from extreme floods and/or landslides. According to the EU definition, Nature-Based Solutions are adaptation and risk mitigation measures inspired by nature and continuously supported by natural processes. They are recognized worldwide as relevant tools for climate adaptation and disaster risk reduction. Designed to address various environmental challenges in a resource-efficient and adaptable manner, they also aim to provide economic, societal, and environmental co-benefits by enhancing biodiversity and providing multiple ecosystem services. Nature-Based Solutions also provide many opportunities for active involvement of stakeholders and the civil society, e.g., in co-creation and co-design of possible solutions.

The journal Sustainability, with its commitment and reputation for publishing cross-disciplinary research within the themes of environmental, cultural, economic, and social sustainability of human beings, is an ideal platform for scholars and practitioners working in the field of Nature-Based Solutions to share their ideas and experiences. This Special Issue on nature-based solutions aims to provide a forum for presenting current original research covering the different aspects of Nature-Based Solutions, from technical reflections on human–nature interactions and policies to innovations resulting from co-design and co-creation processes. Practitioners and end-users are strongly encouraged to contribute to this Special Issue of Sustainability with their reflections and experiences highlighting the cross- and transdisciplinary character of Nature-Based Solutions.

Dr. Gerd Lupp
Dr. Aude Zingraff-Hamed
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Nature-Based Solutions (NBS)
  • risk reduction
  • cross-/transdisciplinary
  • flood risk reduction
  • reduction of natural hazards
  • restoration
  • policy
  • stakeholder participation
  • innovation
  • co-creation
  • co-design

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Nature-Based Solutions—Concept, Evaluation, and Governance
Sustainability 2021, 13(6), 3012; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13063012 - 10 Mar 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 836
Abstract
Climate change results in an increase of the frequency and intensity of extreme hydro-meteorological risks such as floods, mudflows, landslides, avalanches and rockfalls jeopardizing a great number of people, settlements and critical infrastructures every year [...] Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nature-Based Solutions—Concept, Evaluation, and Governance)

Research

Jump to: Editorial

Article
Catalyzing Innovation: Governance Enablers of Nature-Based Solutions
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 1971; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041971 - 11 Feb 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2036
Abstract
There is growing recognition that using the properties of nature through nature-based solutions (NBS) can help to provide viable and cost-effective solutions to a wide range of societal challenges, including disaster risk reduction (DRR). However, NBS realization depends critically on the governance framework [...] Read more.
There is growing recognition that using the properties of nature through nature-based solutions (NBS) can help to provide viable and cost-effective solutions to a wide range of societal challenges, including disaster risk reduction (DRR). However, NBS realization depends critically on the governance framework that enables the NBS policy process. Drawing from three case studies in Nocera Inferiore (Italy), Munich (Germany), and Wolong (China), we identify key governance enablers—the contextual preconditions, policy processes, and institutions—that proved essential for NBS initiation, planning, design, and implementation. In the three cases, interviews confirm the success of the NBS measures and their benefits in terms not only of DRR but of multiple ecological and social–economic co-benefits. Results highlight critical governance enablers of NBS, including: polycentric governance (novel arrangements in the public administration that involved multiple institutional scales and/or sectors); co-design (innovative stakeholder participatory processes that influenced the final NBS); pro-NBS interest and coalition groups (organized pressure groups that advocated for an NBS); and financial incentives (financing community-based implementation and monitoring of NBS). Findings show that the transition to NBS can contribute to multiple global agendas, including DRR, climate change adaptation, and sustainable development. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nature-Based Solutions—Concept, Evaluation, and Governance)
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Article
A Battery of Soil and Plant Indicators of NBS Environmental Performance in the Context of Global Change
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 1913; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13041913 - 10 Feb 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 843
Abstract
Nature-based solutions (NBSs) for risk reduction produce environmental effects that must be assessed to evaluate their performance. In a context of climate change and growing concern about the loss of biodiversity, indicators informing about ecosystem complexity, resilience and stability are required. NBS projects [...] Read more.
Nature-based solutions (NBSs) for risk reduction produce environmental effects that must be assessed to evaluate their performance. In a context of climate change and growing concern about the loss of biodiversity, indicators informing about ecosystem complexity, resilience and stability are required. NBS projects hardly ever include environmental monitoring programs and, at best, NBS performance is evaluated based on elementary indicators that provide poor information about ecosystem functions and services. Within the framework of the PHUSICOS (EU, H2020) project, a NBS approach is being applied to reduce the hydrometeorological risks (rock falls and snow avalanches) that threaten a transnational road and a very populated town in the Pyrenees range. In both cases, the planned actions are modifying soil and vegetation structure and functioning as well as the environmental services they provide. Here we present a set of soil and plant indicators designed to be included in the postoperation monitoring plan of both NBS projects. We provide a description and information about the range of values of every indicator measured in the study sites together with indications about analytical methods and sampling calendar. We discuss the trade-offs between monetary cost, expertise requirements and meaningfulness of the indicators. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nature-Based Solutions—Concept, Evaluation, and Governance)
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Article
Integrated Valuation of Nature-Based Solutions Using TESSA: Three Floodplain Restoration Studies in the Danube Catchment
Sustainability 2021, 13(3), 1482; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031482 - 01 Feb 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1256
Abstract
Floodplain restoration measures are among the most well-known nature-based solutions for flood risk reduction but practitioners see their limitations in comparison to technical measures when considering both their effectiveness and profitability. The aim of this study is to show the co-benefits (besides flood [...] Read more.
Floodplain restoration measures are among the most well-known nature-based solutions for flood risk reduction but practitioners see their limitations in comparison to technical measures when considering both their effectiveness and profitability. The aim of this study is to show the co-benefits (besides flood risk reduction) of floodplain restoration and handle them in terms of monetized ecosystem services (ES). Our work focused on six ES groups for three study areas in the Danube catchment along the Krka, Morava, and Danube rivers. ES mapping through stakeholder engagement is also considered. We applied the methodologies suggested in the Toolkit for Ecosystem Service Site-Based Assessment (TESSA) complemented with alternative methodologies (e.g., questionnaires on social media). Results show annual combined benefits of floodplain restoration in a range from 237,000 USD2019 at Krka to 3.1 million USD2019 at Morava, suggesting the utility of ES assessment. The combination of stakeholder workshops and the TESSA guidelines, as well as the newly developed methods, were all central tools to provide decision-makers with arguments to use nature-based solutions for an integrated and holistic riparian land use management. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nature-Based Solutions—Concept, Evaluation, and Governance)
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Article
Implementing Nature-Based Solutions in Rural Landscapes: Barriers Experienced in the PHUSICOS Project
Sustainability 2021, 13(3), 1461; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031461 - 30 Jan 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 1330
Abstract
Nature-based solutions (NBS) are becoming increasingly important in both the EU and individual countries’ political agendas, as a sustainable means to reduce the risk posed by hydrometeorological hazards. However, as the use of NBS is increasing, a number of barriers regarding their practical [...] Read more.
Nature-based solutions (NBS) are becoming increasingly important in both the EU and individual countries’ political agendas, as a sustainable means to reduce the risk posed by hydrometeorological hazards. However, as the use of NBS is increasing, a number of barriers regarding their practical implementation also become apparent. A number of review studies have summarized and classified barriers, mainly in urban settings. PHUSICOS is a Horizon 2020 Innovation Action to demonstrate the use of NBS in rural and mountain landscapes. Large-scale demonstrator case sites with several sub-projects are established in Italy, Norway and in the French and Spanish Pyrenees. The present paper describes the project’s NBS measures and their experienced barriers, some of which have resulted in full cancellation of the planned interventions. Many of the barriers experienced in rural settings have the same root causes as the ones described from urban areas, and the main barrier-creating mechanisms are institutional factors, resistance among stakeholders and technical and economic issues. The key element, however, is the lack of knowledge about the ability of NBS to deliver a series of co-benefits in addition to their risk-reducing effects and that long-term thinking is required to see the effect of many of these co-benefits. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nature-Based Solutions—Concept, Evaluation, and Governance)
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Article
Platform Dedicated to Nature-Based Solutions for Risk Reduction and Environmental Issues in Hilly and Mountainous Lands
Sustainability 2021, 13(3), 1094; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13031094 - 21 Jan 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 891
Abstract
In the context of global changes, nature-based solutions (NBSs) increasingly draw attention as a possible way to reduce disaster risk associated with extreme hydro-meteorological events while providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits at the same time. The PHUSICOS platform is dedicated to gather [...] Read more.
In the context of global changes, nature-based solutions (NBSs) increasingly draw attention as a possible way to reduce disaster risk associated with extreme hydro-meteorological events while providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits at the same time. The PHUSICOS platform is dedicated to gather and analyse relevant NBSs used to reduce disaster risk associated with extreme hydro-meteorological events in mountainous and hilly lands. To design the platform, an in-depth review of 11 existing platforms has been performed. The PHUSICOS platform currently references 152 literature NBS cases and is continuously enriched through the contribution of NBS community. The platform also proposes a qualitative assessment of the NBSs collected according to 15 criteria related with five ambits: “disaster risk reduction”, “technical and economical feasibility”, “environment”, “society”, and “local economy”. This paper presents the structure of the platform and a first analysis of its content. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nature-Based Solutions—Concept, Evaluation, and Governance)
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Article
Innovation in NBS Co-Design and Implementation
Sustainability 2021, 13(2), 986; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13020986 - 19 Jan 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1167
Abstract
Impacts in the form of innovation and commercialization are essential components of publicly funded research projects. PHUSICOS ("According to nature" in Greek), an EU Horizon 2020 program (H2020) Innovation Action project, aims to demonstrate the use of nature-based solutions (NBS) to mitigate hydrometeorological [...] Read more.
Impacts in the form of innovation and commercialization are essential components of publicly funded research projects. PHUSICOS ("According to nature" in Greek), an EU Horizon 2020 program (H2020) Innovation Action project, aims to demonstrate the use of nature-based solutions (NBS) to mitigate hydrometeorological hazards in rural and mountainous areas. The work program is built around key innovation actions, and each Work Package (WP) leader is specifically responsible for nurturing innovation processes, maintaining market focus, and ensuring relevance for the intended recipients of the project results. Key success criteria for PHUSICOS include up-scaling and mainstream implementation of NBS to achieve broader market access. An innovation strategy and supporting tools for implementing this within PHUSICOS has been developed and key concepts forming the basis for this strategy are presented in this research note. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nature-Based Solutions—Concept, Evaluation, and Governance)
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Article
Living Labs—A Concept for Co-Designing Nature-Based Solutions
Sustainability 2021, 13(1), 188; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13010188 - 28 Dec 2020
Cited by 15 | Viewed by 1973
Abstract
Living Labs are recognized as a progressive form to foster innovation and the strengthening of collaborative planning. The concept has received strong attention by the European Union (EU) research and innovation agendas recently. This contribution investigates how a Living Lab approach could be [...] Read more.
Living Labs are recognized as a progressive form to foster innovation and the strengthening of collaborative planning. The concept has received strong attention by the European Union (EU) research and innovation agendas recently. This contribution investigates how a Living Lab approach could be used for the design and implementation of Nature-Based Solutions (NBS). NBS are gaining acceptance as a more sustainable solution for reducing the exposure to natural hazards and vulnerability to events, such as increased flooding in changing climate. However, a lack of collaborative approaches hinders their broader implementation. A literature review on the theoretical aspects of the Living Labs concept in the context of NBS is conducted, and we compare the theoretical findings with practices that were observed by case studies implementing NBS in a collaborative manner. The Isar-Plan River Restoration in Munich, Germany, and the Mountain Forest Initiative (Bergwaldoffensive). Both of the case studies have already started well before the concept of Living Labs gained wider popularity. Both award-winning cases are recognized good practice for their exemplary in-depth stakeholder involvement. The paper discusses the concepts and approaches of Living Labs and reflects on how it can serve and support in-depth participatory stakeholder involvement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nature-Based Solutions—Concept, Evaluation, and Governance)
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Article
Stakeholder Mapping to Co-Create Nature-Based Solutions: Who Is on Board?
Sustainability 2020, 12(20), 8625; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12208625 - 18 Oct 2020
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 3193
Abstract
Nature-based solutions (NBS) are inspired and supported by nature but designed by humans. Historically, governmental stakeholders have aimed to control nature using a top-down approach; more recently, environmental governance has shifted to collaborative planning. Polycentric governance and co-creation procedures, which include a large [...] Read more.
Nature-based solutions (NBS) are inspired and supported by nature but designed by humans. Historically, governmental stakeholders have aimed to control nature using a top-down approach; more recently, environmental governance has shifted to collaborative planning. Polycentric governance and co-creation procedures, which include a large spectrum of stakeholders, are assumed to be more effective in the management of public goods than traditional approaches. In this context, NBS projects should benefit from strong collaborative governance models, and the European Union is facilitating and encouraging such models. While some theoretical approaches exist, setting-up the NBS co-creation process (namely co-design and co-implementation) currently relies mostly on self-organized stakeholders rather than on strategic decisions. As such, systematic methods to identify relevant stakeholders seem to be crucial to enable higher planning efficiency, reduce bottlenecks and time needed for planning, designing, and implementing NBS. In this context, this contribution is based on the analysis of 16 NBS and 359 stakeholders. Real-life constellations are compared to theoretical typologies, and a systematic stakeholder mapping method to support co-creation is presented. Rather than making one-fit-all statements about the “right” stakeholders, the contribution provides insights for those “in charge” to strategically consider who might be involved at each stage of the NBS project. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nature-Based Solutions—Concept, Evaluation, and Governance)
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Article
Implementation of Nature-Based Solutions for Hydro-Meteorological Risk Reduction in Small Mediterranean Catchments: The Case of Portofino Natural Regional Park, Italy
Sustainability 2020, 12(3), 1240; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12031240 - 08 Feb 2020
Cited by 14 | Viewed by 2413
Abstract
Nature-based solutions (NBS) are usually defined as complementary or alternative solutions to “grey infrastructures” (traditionally made with cement) aimed at conserving and regenerating the functionality of natural and semi-natural ecosystems. The research to date shows a considerable potential of NBS to address the [...] Read more.
Nature-based solutions (NBS) are usually defined as complementary or alternative solutions to “grey infrastructures” (traditionally made with cement) aimed at conserving and regenerating the functionality of natural and semi-natural ecosystems. The research to date shows a considerable potential of NBS to address the current challenges related to climate change and geo-hydrological risks. Despite significant interest in NBS by researchers and practitioners, knowledge concerning their practical implementation, monitoring, and evaluation is still lacking. This is particularly true for large-scale NBS. The present paper discusses how such solutions can be implemented in the context of hydro-meteorological risk reduction in small Mediterranean catchments with a strong tourist vocation. The work presented here is situated within the RECONECT Project (Regenerating ECOsystems with Nature-based solutions for hydro-meteorological risk rEduCTion), which aims to contribute to a European reference framework on NBS by demonstrating, upscaling, and replicating large-scale NBS in rural and natural areas. The Italian case study of RECONECT is the Portofino Natural Regional Park, which represents a unique natural landscape element with high ecologic, social, and economic (touristic) value, which is threatened by a range of geo-hydrological hazards, such as flash floods, hyper-concentrated floods, shallow landslides, rockfalls, and storm surges. This paper also presents details of NBS interventions in two pilot catchments (San Fruttuoso and Paraggi) visited by thousands of tourists throughout the year. It addresses some of the key aspects related to monitoring meteorological and hydrological processes, as well as remote sensing activities (i.e., LiDAR surveys), which are necessary for the identification of critical-instability areas along waterways and the reconstruction of dry stone walls. Lastly, a discussion of relevant mitigation and adaptation strategies that are potentially replicable at national and international levels is also provided. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nature-Based Solutions—Concept, Evaluation, and Governance)
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Article
A Methodology of Policy Assessment at the Municipal Level: Costa Rica´s Readiness for the Implementation of Nature-Based-Solutions for Urban Stormwater Management
Sustainability 2020, 12(1), 230; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12010230 - 26 Dec 2019
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1934
Abstract
Nature-based-solutions (NBS) pursue a combination of economic, social, and environmental benefits that can meet municipal goals on stormwater and rapid urbanization problems. However, NBS have fallen behind in reaching to the political and legal framework, and with this, to a policy mix for [...] Read more.
Nature-based-solutions (NBS) pursue a combination of economic, social, and environmental benefits that can meet municipal goals on stormwater and rapid urbanization problems. However, NBS have fallen behind in reaching to the political and legal framework, and with this, to a policy mix for urban stormwater sustainability. When looking closer at NBS, it becomes evident that they are loaded with many barriers, including institutional and political ones, as well as those that exist in the urban area social context. These barriers are also deepened by the lack of policy guidelines and few demonstration projects. In this respect, this paper combines the concepts of urban experiments and the policy feedback cycle (PFC) into a singular assessment tool. It´s goal is to assess Costa Rica’s municipal readiness in the implementation of NBS within the context of policy design and implementation. Therefore, this paper focusses on the first two stages of the PFC of an existing urban experiment to extract its policy insights for the successful replication of NBS projects. This novel method aims to contribute to the ongoing debate with respect to the ability of experimentation to prompt scalability and transferability of results. Hence, the New York City Green Infrastructure plan is considered as an urban experiment that promotes sustainable policy initiatives; while the PFC can identify and (re)formulate these policies initiatives and barriers into an adaptable policy guideline. Results indicate that sustainability policies at the municipal level should incorporate incentive mechanisms policies on (i) community involvement and communication; and (ii) transdisciplinary knowledge transfer between specialists and stakeholders. Finally, this paper suggests the inter-municipal cross-institutional collaboration and the recognition of external trigger events to incentivize a sustainable urban transition. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nature-Based Solutions—Concept, Evaluation, and Governance)
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