Sponge Cities within airshed and river basin management: integrating nature-based solutions to create sustainable places

Global ambitions to reduce environmental impacts of cities through sustainable urbanisation are likely to be undermined under future climate conditions. There is an urgent need to consider proposed solutions in an integrated manner in terms of the resulting air, soil and water quality, to evaluate the consequences for ecosystem services, and to make the assessments at both local and regional scales. In urban environments increasingly vulnerable to climate change, it is argued that the process of planning effective mitigation (for example of flooding) must include assessment of a range of innovative nature-based and technical-natural solutions evaluated against multiple criteria.

Whilst specific solutions might be beneficial at small scale in single domains, what is less tractable are the likely co-benefits or trade-offs in other domains or within a wider urban and peri-urban context. The benefits to people come about through flows of air and water through urban landscapes, so understanding scale and context for both social and natural systems are essential to effective planning for liveable cities. Our project focuses on identifying holistic multi-domain solutions and evaluating their overall effectiveness at various scales in case study systems, primarily in China but also in Europe.

It will make use of new and existing case studies to evaluate what leads to successful interventions, and the role of business and society in this. It is an integrated business-research collaboration comprising a collaborative process of learning. Refinement of our research tools will be actively driven through innovative environmental initiatives from the business sector. From that, an iterative process further stimulating innovation will be fostered by the project.


Duration: Starting in 2019, ending in 2022 at the latest
Contact: Dr. Michael Hutchins
Budget: €1,003,747
Partners: UKRI Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, Tsinghua University – Department of Hydraulic Engineering, Norwegian Institute of Water Research, Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, University of Surrey – Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Oslo – Geosciences.




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