Policies (Regulations and Incentives)

Scrabble letters composing a word "Rules"

Policies (Regulations and Incentives)

The challenge of integrating the diffuse benefits of NBS within existing administrative accounting schemes can limit the obvious “business case” for NBS, which in most cases promise higher social or environmental, rather than clear financial returns on investment. Furthermore, there is a need to involve the private sector in the successful implementation of NBS to create a connected network of green and blue infrastructure, considering that municipal resources and ownership of land are limited and the effective delivery of ecosystem services can only be achieved through holistic and connected development.

With the right tools, policy makers can incentivise the implementation of NBS and strengthen their economic viability. As NBS is a topic that is linked to various disciplines and responsibilities, their realisation is influenced through a wide range of strategic documents and instruments, such as municipal green planning, urban planning, zoning, as well as building regulations, stormwater regulations and environmental levies. Additionally, cities are subject to numerous laws and regulations from different governance levels (European, national, regional and local level interventions) with direct implication for NBS uptake. General policy principles cities could consider to improve the uptake of NBS include: ƒ

Using the right mix of policy tools and instruments for guiding behaviour and development:

Cities possess manifold tools and instruments, ranging from rather soft tools such as informational systems to harder command-and-control and economic instruments. These instruments allow policy makers to use them in different areas and urban contexts to influence and incentivise the implementation of NBS and to strengthen their economic viability. It is important to note that all proposed measures, whether regulation or market incentives, should be tailored to the local environment and conditions, creating a realistic, attractive and viable context for the adoption of NBS solutions in future urban planning practices. ƒ

Effective communication of the policy objectives:

Policy objectives and targets should be well aligned with the cities’ overall vision. The creation of summaries, checklists and guidelines for the most relevant policy documents can help to better communicate these and present them in an easy-to-understand way to different local stakeholders. Most importantly, the ultimate goal of the policy/law has to be clear. Furthermore, the inclusion of policy issues in (NBS-related) trainings may help to increase understanding and acceptance.ƒ

Linking all relevant regulations and their spatial relevance on an easy-to-use platform:

The creation of a space where all relevant policies are gathered and organised and can be found via user-friendly and targeted search options. This could for example be on the city’s website.ƒ

Effective policy monitoring and evaluation:

To ensure the validity and practicability of new measures and evaluate their contribution and effect on NBS implementation, the city should ensure effective policy monitoring and evaluation schemes. These may also enable future improvement and learning opportunities and affect local uptake and perception.ƒ

Strengthening the science-policy nexus:

In light of the fact that NBS is a particularly interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral topic, cities need to cooperate with different experts and associations to make sure future legislation is effective and knowledge-based. In particular, the cooperation between science and policy making should be enhanced to ensure that new findings and innovative solutions can be quickly taken up and transferred into “real” projects. This approach could also improve the legitimacy of certain policies.ƒ

Creating opportunities for innovative solutions and pilots to be tested:

As it is difficult and risky to change the entire legislative setting, small-scale experimentation areas which provide greater freedom and serve as testbeds provide a good opportunity to explore future solutions and processes. Such areas could for example be exempt from certain rules or be based on more competitive mechanisms. They could also be used to test new incentive structures and participatory processes. Trial and error processes can be initiated and monitored and successful projects and mechanisms be rolled out.