Organised with the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning of the Republic of Slovenia and the Municipality of Kranj.

Championing a nature-positive approach, this Policy Lab focused on the importance of green infrastructure and nature-based solutions as strategic elements of sustainable urban development. Experts addressed crucial aspects of enhancing urban green spaces in cities, from the integration of nature into urban planning to assessing and measuring the impacts and economic viability of urban green projects.

Interventions from ICLEI Europe, the Urban Planning Institute of Slovenia, Barcelona Regional, and Horizon NUA set the stage for an insightful exchange of good practices and know-hows, complemented by a policy workshop to harness recommendations. The event also offered participants the possibility to learn from practice and visit two NBS initiatives implemented by the city of Kranj: a riparian corridor near the city centre and a green roof implemented in a primary school.

Identified by Slovenia as a key policy priority in the upcoming years, urban greening is instrumental to fighting the climate crisis, while improving the quality of life for Slovenian citizens and supporting polycentric territorial development. Integrating nature into urban policies at the national and local levels is proposed as a necessary step to empower urban sustainability transitions on the ground, boosting Slovenian cities’ resilience, liveability and attractivity.


Expert contributions

Urban Greening Plans, guidance for cities

Shreya Utkarsh & Anna Bruen, Officers, Sustainable Resources & Climate and Resilience, ICLEI Europe

Beyond nature conservation, ecosystem restoration has been recognised as a fundamental action in the fight against the climate crisis. In the framework of the European Green Deal and the ambition to become a climate-neutral continent by 2050, the proposed Nature Restoration Law of the European Commission establishes for the first time binding targets for the restoration of ecosystems, including in urban areas. Proposed greening targets and renaturation goals will have clear implications for regions and cities, calling for multi-level governance and cooperation. To energise coordination of actions across levels of government, ICLEI Europe will support regional and local authorities with strategic guidance and tools for drafting Urban Greening Plans (UGPs), one of the main instruments to build on existing local planning strategies and efficiently integrate renaturation objectives.

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Integrating nature into strategic urban planning

Barbara Goličnik Marušič, Head of Research, Urban Planning Institute of Slovenia

As solutions inspired and supported by nature, NBS also encompass actions in the built environment that facilitate or mimic natural processes and ecosystem services. Through this expanded understanding, the Urban Planning Institute of Slovenia has developed a systemic methodology for categorising NBS based on types, functions, and overall contexts that can inform tailored urban planning strategies for greening cities. The intervention pointed to the need for context specificity in planning as different urban scapes will need different NBS. According to Mrs Goličnik Marušič, in order to mainstream nature into urban strategies, a number of place-specific variables relating to proximity, residential density, and other socio-environmental conditions need to taken into account.


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Measuring urban green & assessing integrated benefits

Arnau Lluch, Environmental and GIS Technical Expert, Barcelona Regional

Why are green cities better cities? While contributing to climate neutrality and other environmental services, green cities are also more liveable and provide a wide range of socio-economic benefits for their residents. In partnership with the Barcelona City Council, Barcelona Regional coordinates projects that leverage the multifunctionality of green infrastructure and urban green spaces such as urban allotments and city parks. The extensive mapping exercise undertaken to understand the geography of urban green in Barcelona helped to identify spatial gaps and deprived areas, informing more inclusive planning. This was accompanied by an assessment of the socio-environmental benefits of 355 urban parks and 29 urban allotments, evidencing the fundamental role of NBS in enhancing residents’ health, agency, and overall quality of life.

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Financing urban nature-based solutions

Isobel Fletcher, Acting CEO, Horizon NUA

A number of H2020 projects have emphasised the need for long-term financing as a grand challenge for the large scale implementation of NBS in urban settings. While the share of public funding for NBS projects continues to be the most dominant, the growing demand and market for NBS will require stronger partnership with private sector actors in the years to come. A main contribution of the ConnectingNature project has been to identify the financing needs of NBS throughout their implementation cycle, pointing to the importance of developing future-looking, sustainable NBS business models that can amplify returns on investment. The project has produced a variety of guidebooks and tools that NBS enablers can use to promote financial viability and trickle down benefits of urban greening interventions. Ms Fletcher presented the four key steps of this process: 1) consolidating political support; 2) co-creating sustainable business models and multi-actor partnerships; 3) securing funds and exploring alternative financing instruments; and 4) measuring impact and return on investment.

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