Reviewing financing barriers and strategies for urban nature-based solutions

J Environ Manage. 2021 Jul 1;289:112371. doi: 10.1016/j.jenvman.2021.112371. Epub 2021 Apr 10.


Obtaining public and/or private finance for upscaling urban nature-based solutions (NBS) is a key barrier for reaching urban sustainability goals, including climate mitigation and adaptation. We carry out a systematic review of the academic literature to understand the key barriers and corresponding strategies for financing urban NBS. First, we report on specific financing challenges and strategies found for NBS uptake in four urban ecological domains: buildings, facades and roofs; urban green space (parks, trees); allotment gardens (including urban agriculture); and green-blue infrastructure. Across domains, we identify two overarching barriers of NBS finance: (1) coordination between private and public financiers and (2) integration of NBS benefits into valuation and accounting methods. We discuss strategies found in the literature that address these barriers; here, two things stand out. One, there is a large variety of valuation strategies that does not yet allow for an integrated accounting and valuation framework for NBS. Two, strategies aimed at coordinating public/private finance generally look for ways to encourage specific actors (real estate developers, residents) that benefit privately from an NBS to provide co-financing. We visualize our findings into a framework for enabling (public and/or private) finance for upscaling urban NBS.

Keywords: Green urban infrastructure; Nature-based solutions; Public-private finance; Sustainable finance; Sustainable innovation.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cities
  • Sustainable Growth*
  • Trees*