Lack of Knowledge and Awareness

  • Amongst municipal workers: as a cross-sectoral topic, NBS requires the engagement of multiple departments. In many cases amongst the UNaLab partner cities, the concept is placed more intrinsically within the departments responsible for green space and water management. In order to effectively deploy the concept beyond these departments, a broader level of awareness and exchange is necessary.  
  • Amongst decision makers: in many cases, politicians also do not yet see the potential of NBS to support the city in achieving long term objectives. 
  • Amongst local businesses and citizens: for the effective implementation of NBS, the participation of the private sector is necessary. Multiple cities reported difficulty convincing local businesses to integrate NBS into their strategies. Buy-in is also important amongst citizens, who on one hand can present strong opposition to the implementation of NBS, but also should be considered central partners and co-creators of NBS in the city.  
  • About the areas that are at risk of climate change: in multiple cases it was reported that there is a need for more data related to climate change scenarios to better target and justify the development of NBS. Also beyond a purely climatic perspective, integration of different data sets (such as those related to vulnerable groups, and human settlement scenarios) will help cities better target NBS. 
  • About the potential of NBS to address challenges, their co-benefits and the suitable types to employ: Factors such as the limited evidence base for the ability of NBS to achieve climate related challenges, or knowledge about the potential co-benefits they can deliver.
  • About the functions/services nature provides to cities: Awareness of the services that nature provides to cities is still considered insufficient amongst partner cities. A few of the partner cities have begun integrating ecosystem services into municipal accounting processes, but there remains limited awareness about the value of the services that existing and future NBS/green infrastructure can provide.  
  • About the technical aspects of planning, building, and maintaining NBS: NBS presents a fundamentally new way of conducting urban development. From a technical perspective, this presents challenges as it requires new processes and techniques to be integrated into engineering and land use planning processes. It has also been highlighted that poor or wrong implementation of NBS and the resulting negative effects are a threat to public perception, acceptance and support. In some cases, the technical knowledge is present but must be effectively distributed, emphasising the importance of learning between cities.  

Knowledge and awareness should not only be viewed as a challenge to the successful implementation of NBS. NBS also presents an effective tool to raise knowledge and awareness around climate change adaptation and sustainability-related challenges. While concepts such as ecosystem services and green infrastructure can be more difficult for local citizens and companies to grasp, NBS has the potential to communicate the principles of these concept in a way that can be more accessible for actors beyond technical practitioners.


Access to knowledge, library

Governance-related actionfields to support NBS uptake