Citizen engagement for nature-based solutions

The active engagement of citizens is essential to successfully implement Nature-based Solutions (NBS). Developing co-design processes and including the greatest diversity of stakeholders will offer a solid foundation for lasting and shared improvements.

Engaging citizens requires not only informing them about the importance of NBS for improving their quality of life, but also generating enthusiasm and involvement, to benefit from their ideas in the transformation process and future management practices. For the benefits of citizen engagement to accrue, engagement must be carefully planned and executed. The process must be transparent, fair, and equal, and include all citizens, particularly those that may be otherwise marginalised, and lust allow minority opinions to be raised.

The GrowGreen project has published two factsheets on citizen engagement: 1) Stakeholder and Citizen Engagement Processes inside a NBS City Strategy, focusing the processes of citizen engagement , and 2) Citizen engagement for Nature-based Solutions, describing methods and the lessons learn from the GrowGreen cities.

The first document, Stakeholder and Citizen Engagement Processes inside a NBS City Strategy, attempts to collect various proposals made to involve stakeholders and citizens. Firstly, different scale strategies concern different stakeholders which require different engagement methods. There are two main scale strategies:

  • the urban scale: involving thousands of people and thus requiring a more representative and political participation
  • the local scale: directly affecting the neighbours and requiring the direct participation of citizens

The engagement methodology is divided between 1) the city or district scale (macro or meso / planning) and 2) the site scale (micro / design). The methodology can be adapted to different cities and engagement processes, its steps can be performed differently or bypassed. However, the factsheet shows that certain conditions must be met to avoid misunderstandings and suspicions, to maintain stakeholder confidence.
Therefore, it is necessary that stakeholders are identified at the beginning of the process and their roles and responsibilities established in relation to the scale of the processes that will take place.

The second factsheet, Citizen engagement for Nature-based Solutions, shows the methods and lessons learned from citizen engagement activities during the planning and implementation of NBS in some of the GrowGreen cities.

To engage citizens, GrowGreen used an approach developed by Paisaje Transversal. This approach consists in two methods: “Listen and transform”, which focuses on a collaborative process that pursues different objectives, and “Dissemination, Citizenship and Participation”, which creates citizen involvement both for the development and implementation of NBS projects. These two processes are explained in more detail in the factsheet, which also reports the lessons learned from three GrowGreen cities: Valencia, Wroclaw, and Manchester.

Further information

GrowGreen Report: Engaging citizens in nature-based solutions

GrowGreen Webinar: Involving citizens in urban nature-based solutions strategies

Factsheet: Stakeholder and citizen engagement processes within an NBS city strategy

Factsheet: Citizen engagement for Nature-based Solutions