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A recap from EU project ThinkNature


A recap from EU project ThinkNature 

May 29, 2020


Between 2016 and 2019 ISOCARP was part of the EU funded project ThinkNature, whose goal was the development of a multi-stakeholder dialogue platform and think tank to promote innovation with Nature-based Solutions (NBS). ISOCARP joined a consortium of sixteen partners, led by the Technical University of Crete, and was responsible for the communication and dissemination of project outcomes and activities. ThinkNature was a project coherent with ISOCARP’s mission and vision of promoting sustainable urbanisation and sustainable communities, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals. The project highlighted ISOCARP’s effort in favour of innovative sustainable solutions in the field of urban planning, exploring new knowledge in the relation between cities and nature, sharing and promoting new outcomes and best practices among urban planners.

Although the project is officially concluded, both the website and the Platform will remain open, as well as all the social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and Youtube). Therefore, the legacy of ThinkNature will remain a precious reference for further projects. ISOCARP will continue its engagement in the field of Nature-based Solutions, and from September 2020 ISOCARP Institute will be working on the new project VARCITIES


Project overview and key information

Nature-based solutions aim to help societies to address a variety of environmental, social and economic challenges in sustainable ways. They are actions which are inspired by, supported by or copied from nature. Some involve using and enhancing existing natural solutions to challenges, while others are exploring more novel solutions, for example, mimicking how non-human organisms and communities cope with environmental extremes. NBS are energy and resource-efficient, and resilient to change, but to be successful they must be adapted to local conditions. The main objective of ThinkNature was the development of a multi-stakeholder communication platform that supports the understanding and the promotion of Nature-based Solutions in local, regional, EU and International level. Through dialogue uptake facilitation and steering mechanisms as well as knowledge capacity building, the ThinkNature Platform aimed at bringing together multi-disciplinary scientific expertise, policy, business and society, as well as citizens. This platform was meant to be efficient, fluent to use and attractive to a wide variety of actors and stakeholders, merging all aspects of NBS in a clear, pyramidal methodological approach. Moreover, the project was meant to create a wide interactive society that builds new knowledge with a wide geographical scope. The expected result was to provide a series of policy and regulatory tools to solve significant societal challenges such as human well-being, tackling energy poverty, impacts of climate change, etc. through continuous dialogue and interaction.


Start date                          1 December 2016

End date                            30 November 2019

Funded by                         EU – H2020 – SC5-10-2016; Grant Agreement ID: 730338

Project Lead                     Technical University of Crete (TUC), Greece

Website                             www.thinknature-eu; platform.think-nature.eu; CORDIS EU


Project outcomes

The core of ThinkNature project was the Platform, where all the activities and outcomes have been published in a comprehensive and exhaustive way. In addition, the platform includes a repertoire of case studies from all over the world and a section called ‘resources’, where papers, videos and other dissemination materials cover various aspects of NBS. Here the most relevant initiatives and results of the project are reported and shortly presented.

Forums on Nature-based Solutions 

During the three years of the project, a series of forums were organized by the consortium in different regions of Europe.

  1. A Coruna (May 2018): Transforming cities, enhancing well-being: innovating with nature-based solutions.
  2. Paris (April 2019): Addressing major societal challenges: Climate change adaptation-mitigation, risk management and resilience.
  3. Bucharest (October 2019): Rethinking the nature of the cities

ThinkNature Handbook

The Nature-based Solutions Handbook is one of the most important outcomes of ThinkNature. Its main objective is to gather and promote state-of-the-art knowledge regarding NBS, comprising a comprehensive guide to all relevant actors. Each aspect of NBS is investigated, from project development to financing and policymaking, and is presented in a concise and effective way.

ThinkNature webinars

ThinkNature organised a series of four webinars between January and June 2019, introducing and covering several aspects of NBS to a wide audience. The objectives were to raise awareness and understanding of the concept of NBS and to support and promote knowledge on multiple aspects of NBS design and implementation. The expected target audience was researchers, policy-makers, practitioners and businesses that are active or interested in NBS. Each webinar focused on a different aspect of NBS design and implementation.

ThinkNature summer school

ThinkNature organised a week-long summer school focused on Nature-Based Solutions. The training program consisted of a mix of inspirational talks and discussions covering various topics related to NBS, followed by a hands-on, co-design workshop in two case studies in Chania (Greece).

ThinkNature interviews with experts

ThinkNature organised a series of video-recorded interviews with conference participants during the H2020 Clustering Action “Transforming Cities, Enhancing Well-being: innovating with nature-based solutions” which took place at the University of A Coruña in 2018. The interviewees are NBS experts of different background and expertise (policymakers, market actors, scientists, end-users/authorities), providing a range of perspectives and different insights into the present and the future of NBS.

Other activities and initiatives

ThinkNature was also involved in several other activities, some of them in partnership with other EU funded projects on NBS. The consortium conducted surveys and research about the barriers and implementation of Nature-based solutions, as well as initiatives to foster the dialogue among stakeholders. Furthermore, the NBS scenario game Greencity was created to demonstrate the impact of choices and the advantages of using Nature-based solutions. Last but not least, the projects partners participated in various international events and submitted articles and publications. An interesting initiative was also the signature of a Cooperation Manifesto on NBS, which took place during the World Forum on Urban Forest in Mantua (2018).


For any questions or further information, please contact Federico Aili (aili@isocarp-institute.org)


Leuven Varcities

Upcoming EU funded research and innovation project – VARCITIES  

Upcoming EU funded research and innovation project – VARCITIES  

May 4, 2020

ISOCARP Institute is glad to announce that the European Commission has signed the grant agreement for the EU funded project VARCITIES. ISOCARP Institute is part of the consortium which will implement the project, starting from September 2020 until February 2025, together with other 24 partners and under the lead of Telecommunication System Institute (TSI).
VARCITIES aims at designing visionary nature-based actions for health, well-being and resilience in cities. The project confirms and renews ISOCARP’s vision of promoting inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable cities, through integrative and participatory processes. Moreover, VARCITIES supports ISOCARP’s contribution to the Sustainable Development Goals, especially those related to good health, wellbeing and sustainable communities. 

VARCITIES – Visionary Nature-based Actions for Health, Well-being and Resilience in Cities   

In an increasingly urbanising world, governments and international corporations strive to increase productivity of cities, recognized as economy growth hubs, as well as ensuring better quality of life and living conditions to citizens. Although significant effort is performed by international organisations, researchers, etc. to transform the challenges of cities into opportunities, the visions of our urban future are trending towards bleak. The increase in urban population is already intensifying the pressure on urban services and facilities, as well as on nature and ecosystems, significantly affecting the liveability of contemporary cities. Air pollution and heat island effect are just two of the most evident impacts of the climate crisis we have started to live. These impacts will more and more negatively affect social and health facilities, whose responsiveness and efficiency is more than ever crucial in time of pandemic crisis like in 2020. 
The vision of VARCITIES is to implement real, visionary ideas and add value by establishing sustainable models for increasing health and wellbeing of citizens (children, young people, middle age, elderly) that are exposed to diverse climatic conditions and challenges around Europe. The ambitious foundation of VARCITIES lies in the close interrelation of sustainability, public health and digital innovation in order to make cities more liveable and welcoming; shared public spaces are pointed out are the privileged areas where to explore this integration, and ultimately to foster the evolution towards fully “human-centred cities”. 

The specific objectives of the project are: 

• To desing visionary nature-based solutions which contribute to the shaping of future cities and the wellbeing of citizens in eight European cities. 

• To monitor and assess the sustainability and impact of interventions through advancing and developing new KPI indicators for health and well-being. 

• To improve the sustainable transition to smart and future cities by creating a framework of locally adapted GBF (Governance, Business, Financing) models.  

• To include, in the co-design process, various stakeholders and inspire sustainable and resilient future smart cities.  

• To achieve knowledge exchange, maximization of EU investments, advancement beyond the state of art through clustering with other European initiatives and platforms.  

• To transfer, upscale and sustain best practices from VARCITIES through the development of a Healthy Cities Helix.

The configuration of the project sees the development of eight applied exemplar pilots (eight European municipalities from different geographic and climate zones). The pilots will implement integrated initiatives which support both municipal actions and local SMEs in meeting credible opportunities to grow and generate revenues. The eight pilot cities are: Bergen (Norway), Castelfranco Veneto (Italy), Chania (Greece), Dundalk (Ireland), Gzira (Malta), Leuven (Belgium), Novo Mesto (Slovenia) and Skellefteå (Sweden). 





VARCITIES is an ambitious project that acknowledges the complexity and the challenges of future cities and sets the ambitious target to advance innovation across different urban scales by fully exploiting nature-based solutions from a digital, social and cultural perspective. VARCITIES envisions future public spaces as people-centred areas that support creativity, inclusivity, health and happiness for the citizens.  



This project will receive funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme. Call H2020-SC5-2018-19-20 Greening the economy, under grant agreement No 86950.


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