Urban greening through nature-based solutions – key characteristics of an emerging concept

Hade Dorst, Alexander van der Jagt, Rob Raven, Hens Runhaar

Research output: Contribution to journalReview ArticleResearchpeer-review

187 Citations (Scopus)


As a result of urbanisation and climate change, many cities experience the necessity of efficient and sustainable land use. Nature-Based Solutions (NBS)are interventions that address social, economic and environmental sustainability issues simultaneously, thereby presenting a multifunctional, solution-oriented approach to increasing urban sustainability. As elements of the emerging NBS concept resemble related, existing approaches to urban greening, this review assesses the implications of this concept for discourse and practice in urban greening. The paper identifies key NBS principles and compares them with those of Ecosystem-Based Adaptation (EBA)and Green Infrastructure (GI). Key differences emerge: the NBS concept incorporates a broader array of interventions and a broader range of perspectives on what qualifies as ‘nature-based’, and it is most explicitly oriented towards providing solutions to complex challenges. NBS implementation could therefore benefit from a more performance-based planning approach; a flexible approach to urban planning which accommodates the integration of multiple land uses and considers urban complexity. We conclude that the NBS concept has potential to unite currently segregated bodies of knowledge generated as part of related approaches to urban greening, and can enable researchers and policymakers to more explicitly discuss the role of nature in addressing a broad range of sustainability challenges.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101620
Number of pages8
JournalSustainable Cities and Society
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019


  • Ecosystem-based adaptation
  • Environmental governance
  • Green infrastructure
  • Multifunctionality
  • Performance-based planning
  • Sustainable cities

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