A Business model for greener cities

Around three quarters of Europeans live in cities. Many of these cities are dealing with the effects of climate change such as heat stress, air pollution and flooding. The high density of paved surfaces, roads and buildings further increase these effects. 

We can do something about this. Trees, rain-gardens, green roofs and walls, and other vegetation help to cool cities on hot summer days, capture heavy rainfall and improve air quality. Research shows that green infrastructure provides a range of other benefits such as increased biodiversity and improved human health. However, cities often find green infrastructure expensive or difficult to implement.

The Nature Smart Cities project aims to support cities to address these challenges. 8 City Partners and 3 Academic Partners in the UK, Belgium, The Netherlands, and France have joined forces. Together we develop a business model to promote green infrastructure solutions, bridging the gap between research and practice. The business model is based on evidence that we collect through interviews with local authorities and analysis of geographical, biophysical and economic data. The academic partners have different roles:

  • The University of Antwerp coordinates the overall development of the business model. Their focus is on the economic analysis and review of existing valuation tools and finance options. 
  • Imperial College London conducts interviews with local authorities on the prevailing decision-making processes, barriers and opportunities. 
  • The University of Gent focuses on quantification of the biophysical impact of Green Infrastructure projects on ecosystem services. 

The business model is tested, validated and refined through 7 green infrastructure pilots - Southend-On-Sea, Cambridge, The Hague, Kapelle, Antwerp, Bruges, and Lille. A step-by-step methodology will support cities to use this business model to implement green infrastructure and build climate resilience.  

Do you want to know how you can implement and finance more green space in your local town? Feel free to contact us via info@naturesmartcities.nl. And sign up to our newsletter to get the latest updates and findings from the project.


City Partners

  • Province of Antwerp
  • Bruges
  • Cambridge 
  • Lille
  • Kapelle
  • Southend on Sea
  • Streekvereniging Zuidrand
  • The Hague

Research Partners