The conference was held as part of the Presidency of the Estonian Republic of the Council of the European Union, the conference “Nature-based Solutions: From Innovation to Common-use” was organized by the Ministry of the Environment of Estonia and the University of Tallinn. Leading scientists, politicians and entrepreneurs from around the world took part who shared their experience on how nature-based innovation and eco-innovative technologies could be implemented in many areas of life.

Nature-based solutions (NBS) is the sustainable management and use of nature for tackling a number of societal challenges such as climate change, water security, food security, human health, and disaster risk management. NBS is a way towards a more resource efficient, competitive and greener economy, but also a possibility to create new jobs and economic growth while at the same time maintaining biodiversity and ecosystems.

Despite looking to nature for NBS, new innovative solutions and new ways of cooperation are necessary. This provides a number of possibilities and challenges in the field: the use of eco-innovation to restore ecosystems, how governance can promote the use of NBS, as well as how to create a framework for assessing and implementing the co-benefits and value of NBS.

The 25th and 26th October was the ‘open’ conference and included keynote presentations, panel discussions, and parallel sessions. EFIS was represented by Henry Varga who took part on 25thand 26th October and focused on two sessions – on ‘Blue-green infrastructure in smart cities’ and ‘Nature-based solutions in circular economy’. Especially two presentations were of interest – “A framework for assessing and implementing the co-benefits of nature-based solutions in urban areas” (University of Trento), and “Economic value of urban nature: a meta-analysis” (Utrecht University School of Economics). These two presentations addressed the issue of how to asses and how to create indicators to show the impact and co-benefits of NBS in different areas of society. While the first presentation was about finding suitable indicators the second one tried to translate the value into one single unit- economic value.

Main takeaways:

  • The conference provided an excellent opportunity get a good overview of what is taking place in NBS at European level and to meet stakeholders, experts and professionals in the field, with speakers from the EU institutions (e.g. EC, EASME, EEA), OECD, universities, cities, institutes and entrepreneurs.
  • A large number of activities taking place in the field of (NBS), driven by EU (financing & policy), cities, universities, institutes, organisations and entrepreneurs.
  • There are many financing opportunities at EU level via Horizon2020 and the LIFE programme (new round spring 2018).
  • Issue for NBS entrepreneurs and start-ups to find financing in the ‘traditional’ financial system.
  • There are several projects taking place on how to assess the impact of NBS, and how to understand the ‘multiple’ value and co-benefits of NBS to society. A topic of growing importance.
  • ICT and available data have an important supporting effect on the development, monitoring and evaluating performance of NBS.

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