26 January 2022

Sharing is caring: spreading nature-based solutions in cities

Cooperation between Zenica (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and ICLEI Member Zagreb (Croatia) has resulted in fruitful approaches for implementation of nature-based solutions. Zagreb’s gradual and inclusive approach to renewing a post-industrial district has proven a valuable approach, applicable to other cities. Zenica shares many similarities with Zagreb and is aiming to learn from its experiences with nature-based solutions to replicate similar strategies.

One of Zagreb’s impressive nature-based solutions is a therapeutic garden with plots tended to by users. The garden is already busy, and has plans for an array of new modernisations, such as the installation of new solar powered water pumps and a distribution network to efficiently bring water to individual gardens. The therapeutic garden also makes use of a mini-modular urban farm in which a variety of herbs and plants are cultivated alongside carp fish, and the garden features a new cycling path.

Educational activities throughout 2022 will engage Zagreb citizens and help finalise plans for local environmental compensation processes. This compensation system will not only include geographical conditions, but also considerations related to social inclusion in urban green spaces. Including locals in the process will ensure that solutions are serving citizens, and are indeed sustainable in the long-term. Finally, and of particular note, Zagreb is working towards creating an extensive online monitoring system for all of these measures.

For its part, Zenica is still in earlier stages of planning its own new nature-based solutions. This makes it an ideal time for them to learn from peers like Zagreb, in order to apply all the lessons that those cities’ work has already generated.

Zenica will soon identify suitable areas for nature-based solutions, prepare spatial plans, and engage local actors and stakeholders. The city’s ambitious vision foresees creating green corridors for cycling and walking, regenerating an old landfill area for activities, green walls and roofs, and creating urban community gardens. The city has already engaged in extensive risk and barrier analysis, which takes into account limited resources and potential difficulties for integration.

Amra Mehmedić, Head of Economic Development, City of Zenica, explains how local leaders can work with residents, saying, “The role of the city is to provide services; but, one can create compromises, for example – sure we need to build a garage, but can that garage have a green roof?”

The two cities met up in January 2022, in a meeting organised by the proGIreg project, in which ICLEI is a partner. Throughout this year, ICLEI Europe will work with its proGIreg partners to create ‘replication workshops’ for like-minded cities to strengthen co-creation, facilitate knowledge sharing, and to define opportunities and potential locations for nature-based solutions replication. More information is available on work that Zagreb (here) and Zenica (here) have undertaken as part of proGIreg.

For more information on how proGIreg will support cities to incorporate nature-based solutions, click here.