Modena is a city of more than 186.000 inhabitants located in the Emilia-Romagna Region, in the northern part of Italy and is a major centre for commerce and industry. The city’s extensive canal network and the two rivers that surround it – the Secchia and the Panaro – make it vulnerable to flooding. This is becoming a more frequent concern with the increase in impermeable surfaces and the city’s ageing sewer system. The city also suffers increasingly high temperatures in the summer. The dense historical centre has little green space and its UNESCO World Heritage Status makes it difficult to change its layout and infrastructure. However, in newer development outside the city there is scope to introduce new nature-based solutions to manage the risk of flooding and reduce stress during the hot summer months.

Modena is testing nature-based solutions to reduce flood peaks and improve the quality of the canal waters from the urbanised eastern part of the city. The grassy canal and swales will help to remove pollutants and increase water infiltration.

On the basis of extensive hydrological modelling and assessments of climate change, as well as experiences from the pilot project, a new strategic approach for nature-based solutions in Modena’s particular context will be developed. A range of stakeholders from the city and its region are jointly developing this approach.

Objectives: Expected impacts:
• To better understand the rivers and canal network and assess the city’s vulnerability to flooding, in order to inform suggestions for nature-based solutions to tackle it. • Enhanced understanding of the flood risk and climate change impacts across the city.
• To develop and assess a pilot project to reduce flooding and pollution of the canal. • Reduced flood peaks and improved water quality in the canal waters treated by the pilot nature-based solution.
• To develop an effective strategy for nature-based solutions. • A strategic basis for further development of nature-based solutions across the city.
• To increase stakeholder engagement in nature-based solutions.

Key outcomes / results

• An analysis of climate change impacts on temperature, rainfall, hydrology across different areas of the city has been completed.
• The core of the pilot project to manage flood peaks and water quality in canal waters was completed in May 2020.
• Stakeholder meetings are held regularly to develop a joint understanding of the climate change risks facing the city and to develop a new strategic approach to managing them with nature-based solutions.