Enabling meaningful engagement of marginalised groups in management of urban Nature Based Solutions

NATURO acts at the nexus of research, practice and policy to create an empirically tested framework that local governments can use to support the wider use of Nature Based Solutions across different user groups.

About Naturo

NATURO is a three year project (2023-2025) financed by the European Driving Urban Transitions Partnership (DUT). DUT steps up the game to tackle urban challenges by enabling local authorities and municipalities, service and infrastructure providers, and citizens to translate global strategies into local action – through research and innovation and capacity building.

In NATURO we study how quality of life can be increased formarginalised groups by using the potential of urban nature and integrating them in public management organisations daily work.

When managing urban Nature Based Solutions (NBS), it is crucial to consider the needs of different user groups, but this is sometimes challenging, especially for marginalised groups who might be excluded from meaningful use and related decision-making processes. Hence, it is important to study and understand the interplay between NBS and their management and use.
Our work will develop a strategic framework for capacity building and empowerment of both local government and civil society stakeholders to co-create NBS that enable the inclusion of marginalized groups in long-term management of public urban green spaces.

The NATURO framework will be used, evaluated and refined in real-life settings, in order to serve and strengthen both the social and ecological resilience of urban areas.

We will re-develop existing urban NBS in small-scale, local, codevelopment interventions – Micro Urban Living Labs (MULLs), which will be established in three European cities and implemented by local governments, followed and evaluated by researchers, social innovators and policymaking experts from three countries. This will support replication and transferability, thus helping to mitigate inequality in access to NBS across Europe.

Project partners

NATURO research partners are: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (lead partner), Wageningen University (NL) and Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia.
NATURO cities are: City of Velenje in Slovenia, ‘S Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands andTyresö in Sweden. NATURO knowledge dissemination partners: Living Cities and Communities and European Urban Knowledge Network.

Activities and work programme

NATURO will establish Micro Urban Living Labs in three cities in Slovenia, the Netherlands and Sweden. City of Velenje in Slovenia will focus on green transformations. Den Bosch in the Netherlands will involve diverse user groups in the development of a green and climate-adapted city. Tyresö in Sweden will focus on reflexive governance and co-creation of urban green spaces within the municipality.

The implementation of the Micro Urban Living Labs by NATURO aims to foster engagement and collaboration with various local stakeholders across three cities. At the transnational level, knowledge will be co-produced within the consortium through collaborative learning processes and tested through communication activities involving policy actors at different levels, including city, regional, national, and European levels.The expected outcome is an empirically tested framework that local governments can use in NBS planning and management. This approach emphasizes practical usability and aims to enhance the effectiveness of NBS initiatives at the local level while facilitating cross-border learning and collaboration.

NATURO workpackages: WP1 develops a strategic framework for analysis of co-creation processes at
city and site levels, employing a reflexive governance approach. WP2 evaluates current NBS cocreation
capacity in each city and establishes MULLs. WP3 facilitates local and cross-city evaluation
and learning. WP4 leads the dissemination of project results to stakeholders and WP5 oversees project management and coordination.

The Micro Urban Living Labs

City of Velenje

Micro Urban Living Lab

The industrial and modernist City of Velenje (36 000 inhabitants) is the sixth largest city in Slovenia. It is located in the pre-alpine region of Slovenia in the eastern part of Šaleška valley at an altitude of 396 meters. Velenje is focusing on green transformations.

As a market it was first mentioned in the 13th century and become a city in the 1950´s. At the end of 19th century, the coal mine was established and after World War II the city began its rapid development due to the increasing demand for coal. From the spatial planning development point of view, the formation of Velenje is as a city in the park. 
Today Velenje is a city municipality and the sixth biggest town in Slovenia, and an important economic, educational, cultural, and administrative centre. 

The city’s ”Office for Economic Development and Transition” has successfully implemented more than 40 EU co-financed projects. Most recent Interreg Central Europe Programme projects: as a LP in project HICAPS – Historical Castle Parks, as a project partner in projects RUINS – sustainable re-use, preservation and modern management of historical ruins in Central Europe – elaboration of integrated model and guidelines based on synthesis of the best European experiences, ECRR – European Cultural Route of Reformation. Within other programmes Velenje worked in Agrigo4Cities project (Interreg Danube Program) which goal was promoting urban and suburban agriculture to increase public institutional capacity and the inclusion of marginalised groups.

City of Tyresö

Micro Urban Living Lab

Tyresö is a fast-growing municipality in Sweden’s capital, Stockholm, with approximately 50 000 inhabitants. Tyresö is only a short distance from the centre of Stockholm, but has a strong green and blue character, including both an archipelago coastline and part of Tyresta National Park, Europe’s most central national park, making nature an important part of the city’s identity.

These major natural resources contain many recreational and ecological values of both national and regional importance. However, there is a lack of local parks, playgrounds and other meeting places close to residential areas. This needs to be developed to meet the needs of the growing population in a denser urban area. The Tyresö Comprehensive Plan states that the municipality should develop in a sustainable way in terms of environmental, social and financial aspects.

Tyresö’s Strategy for parks and nearby nature, adopted by the municipality in 2019, aims to improve the quality of local and neighbourhood green spaces, while facilitating access to larger green spaces, such as Tyresta National Park. The main vision of the strategy is that every resident in Tyresö has good access to a variety of beautiful and well-maintained parks and neighbourhood green spaces. The municipality also aims to have a dense, connected and rich green infrastructure.
Tyresö was a partner in the Swedish innovation project Parkliv, where they worked with SLU researchers and Living Cities and communities to adapt a previously underused urban green space to the needs of children. The Tyresö MULL will continue the established collaboration from Parkliv and build on the social learning of co-creation of urban green spaces within the municipality through focusing on reflexive governance.


Micro Urban Living Lab

City of ‘s-Hertogenbosch (157,000), is a fast-growing city and the capital of the province of North-Brabant in the south of the Netherlands. The city was established in 1185 right there where the rivers Aa and Dommel merge. It brought the city a spectacular nature of marshes and wetlands south of the city and a dynamic river landscape on the north.

In recent decades, the city has been working on 'The Green Delta', a network of nature reserves around the city, focusing on nature, landscape, water, recreation, heritage and agriculture. The aims is to strengthen the relationship between the city and the countryside. 

The city's geo-spatial position makes it highly vulnerable to climate change. In 2021, the plan S-Hertogenbosch, Green and Climate-proof was established as part of the Sustainability program of the city. It proposes measures to cope with heat stress, heavy rainfall and to increase biodiversity. It includes a standard for new projects in the city for water, green and nature-inclusive building. For this program the city build a vast network of local initiatives on greening cities, such as urban agriculture (transfarmers), food forests, tiny forests, weathermakers, neighbourhood gardens, green roof initiatives and small scale greening initiatives by inhabitants and/or entrepreneurs. 


Do you have questions or ideas and want to know more about NATURO? Don't hesitate to contact us:

Thomas Randrup

Wageningen University
Arjen Buijs

Barbara Goličnik

Martin Grisel

Tyresö kommun
Johanna Ronnheden

'S Hertogenbosch
William Jans

Juliana Sumic

Evelina Wahlqvist

This project has been funded by The Swedish Research Council (Formas), The Dutch Research Council (NOW), and The Slovenian Research Agency (ARRS), under the Driving Urban Transitions Partnership, which has been co-funded by the European Commission. Project number: F-DUT-2022-0249