A Business model for greener cities

Today, urban areas - defined as cities, towns and suburbs - provide a home to 72% of the EU’s population. Although cities possess unique qualities for innovation, social integration and economic development, they also place pressure on the available green space. The high concentration of impermeable surfaces, such as pavements and buildings, poses a risk in urban areas.

The stony nature of most urban areas amplifies some of the effects of climate change. Urban areas tend to warm up 3 to 4 degrees more than the surrounding countryside on a hot summer day. Paved over surfaces prevent rain water from being absorbed into the ground. In combination with the increase in heavy rain showers, floods are likely to occur more often. Especially in cities and towns. 

Green urban space is vital to counter these effects. Not only do trees and public gardens look good, they offer a range of solutions. Trees and other plants have a cooling effect on hot days. They improve air and water quality. Vegetated surfaces also increase the drainage capacity of an area, reducing flood risk. Which reduces the associated economic loss and disruption too. Carefully planned green areas provide local habitats for insects and birds or create corridors for animals to move between individual green spaces.  
Research proves that vegetation makes urban areas more enjoyable. People feel better with plants around them. People go outside and get more active in vegetated urban areas. Real estate prices are higher. Shoppers spend more in streets with trees and plants. And tourists are attracted to green cities.  
Despite the evident benefits, urban greening is no priority in most medium and small towns. Often because of the (perceived) costs of installing and maintaining green areas. We, the partners united in the Nature Smart Cities project, aim to do something about this: we aim to enlarge the amount of green space significantly in all cities and towns involved in the project.  

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.eu. And sign up to our newsletter to get the latest updates and findings from the project.

Structure of the Project

8 City partners and 3 Academic partners in the UK, Belgium, The Netherlands and France join forces in the Nature Smart Cities project. The city partners implement 7 different green infrastructure pilot projects in their neighbourhoods. The academic partners use this experience to test and validate the theory on how to finance green infrastructure in local communities. Together, we develop a business model, a step-by-step methodology and a capacity building programme for local authorities to finance green infrastructure. 

City Partners

  • Province of Antwerp
  • Bruges
  • Cambridge 
  • Lille
  • Ghent
  • Southend on Sea
  • The Hague

Research Partners


Project Organisations