[Digital Enablers] Digital enablers to unlock the potential of NBS in cities (1/2)

January 8, 2021

Digital enablers to unlock the potential of NBS in cities

January 2021. A new report has been released as part of the URBiNAT project focusing on the potential of digital enablers to unlock the potential of Nature-Based Solutions in the seven Frontrunner, Follower cities by the URBiNAT project (and beyond). The report surveys a wide range of digital tools and services, and examines how these can be deployed to facilitate the engagement of citizens and other stakeholders in the process of co-selecting, co-designing and co-creating NBS in their districts and neighbourhoods. How can digital enablers be used to reveal the  economic opportunities of NBS and the creation Healthy Corridors? What role can they play in the creation of a broad Community of Practice focused on NBS and urban development? The report is an open invitation for a broader discussion on the design and role of digital enablers in connection with the deployment of NBS.


The present deliverable has been framed for the objective of collecting information, analysing and drawing conclusions on the role of “digital enablers” in urban regeneration, with focus on cocreation and participatory processes around Nature-Based Solution (NBS) and Healthy Corridors. The title has been slightly adjusted from the Grant Agreement, to appropriately reflect the properties of the structured framework we have arrived at.

Despite the advance of digitalisation, as observed in business, research, and the development of smart cities or eco-cities, societies and communities struggle to realise the potential benefits. Although the application of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) does not by itself offer a solution, an important purpose of the report is to widen the perspective and examine what goes beyond the role of technology in shaping and realising the contribution of digital enablers linked to urban regeneration through NBS and Healthy Corridors.

In this, the report distinguishes between mechanisms through which digital enablers can add value, compared to conventional participatory means. Further, it covers new ground in identifying and exploring the main building blocks and how they relate under varying circumstances, including through the various stages of co-creation.

The report further highlights the ongoing changes in actor roles and how they link to governance. Related to this, it examines the importance of data management allowing for effective monitoring, comparisons, and evaluation. Further, the report sets out to review and characterise the standing of digital enablers in the URBiNAT cities and to explore ways forward. The purpose includes covering risks and mitigation efforts, and a brief review of the situation brought about by COVID-19 and the associated lockdowns. A major objective is to provide an overview and synthesis comprising the main impacts, building blocks, and examples of digital enablers, outlining a portfolio perspective on the range of possibilities at hand, and how they can be devised and combined. In this, the report aims to distil key patterns and guiding principles for the applications of digital enablers under varying conditions, as a means of providing guidance and inspiration of relevance to URBiNAT cities as well as more broadly in urban development. Finally, the report highlights the significance of complementarities and capturing synergies at various levels, while avoiding contradictions in effectuating digital enablers to promote participation and co-creation on terms capable of realising the range of potential benefits at hand.

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