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Trinity College Dublin

Nature-based Urban Innovation

Anna Davies, Jane Stout, Marcus Collier, Patrick Bresnihan & Federico Cugurullo

Cities are where most of today’s urgent social and environmental challenges occur - rapid climate change, efficient water and waste management, adverse health and well-being, changes in social cohesion and migration patterns. Nature-based solutions can address these challenges and provide opportunities for innovation.

“Nature-based solutions aim to ‘protect, sustainably manage and restore natural or modified ecosystems, which address societal challenges effectively and adaptively, while simultaneously
providing human well-being and biodiversity benefits’ (IUCN).”

They are solutions that are inspired and supported by nature that are co-created with urban communities.

We research how nature-based solutions can build resilient as well as greener, healthier cities, leading to a more sustainable living for all. We examine how green roofs and walls, street trees and pocket parks, sustainable drainage and rain gardens can provide a diverse range of natural benefits. These include reducing dust, toxins and noise, sheltering and cooling property, sinking carbon and attenuating water. We also study how nature-based solutions can provide multifunctional spaces for recreation, fostering well-being, and a host of other social benefits. However, we need to know more about how they can augment or support biodiversity and species conservation, incorporate energy production and waste management, change behaviour, and boost social cohesion.

Key discoveries to date:

  • Open-access interactive SHARECITY100 database of urban ICT-mediated food sharing;
  • New methodologies for collaborative workshops on urban food sharing and sustainability;
  • Development of new approaches for evaluating urban living laboratories;
  • Proximity to nature increases lifespan and improves public health
  • Recovery from serious illness such as cancer is augmented in natural surroundings


Nature Based Solution