Mainstreaming Nature-Based Solutions in City Planning: Examining Scale, Focus, and Visibility as Drivers of Intervention Success in Liverpool, UK

Mell, I.; Clement, S.; O’Sullivan, F. | Land 2023, 12, 1371. | 2023 | Peer Reviewed | Original research |


Nature-based solutions (NBS) have been central to the European Union’s drive to address climate change, ecological degradation, and promote urban prosperity. Via an examination of the Horizon 2020-funded URBAN GreenUP project in Liverpool, this paper explores mainstreaming NBS in city planning. It uses evidence from pre- and post-intervention surveys with Liverpool residents and interviews with local business, environmental, government, and community sector experts to illustrate how a complex interplay of scale, location, focus, and visibility of NBS influences perceptions of the added value of NBS. This paper highlights the requirement that NBS interventions be bespoke and responsive to the overarching needs of residents and other stakeholders. Moreover, we underscore the importance of expert input into the design, location, and maintenance of NBS and call for these key drivers of successful delivery to be better integrated into work programs. This paper also notes that the type and size of NBS interventions impact perceptions of their value, with smaller projects being viewed as less socially and ecologically valuable compared to larger investments. We conclude that while small-scale NBS can support climatic, health, or ecological improvements in specific instances, strategic, larger-scale, and more visible investments are required to accrue substantive benefits and gain acceptance of NBS as a legitimate and effective planning tool.