Application of Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) in a Functional Urban Area (FUA) in the EU

25-26 September, 2019


A combined Polish-Dutch Policy Lab on Functional urban Areas (FUAs) and Nature-based Solutions (NBS) took place on 25-26 September 2019 in Wrocław, Poland. The European Urban Knowledge Network prepared a Policy Lab focusing on exchange of experiences, making use of the fruitful work of the Urban Agenda for the EU Partnership on Sustainable Use of Land and Nature-based Solutions and other available literature and good practice on FUA´s and NBS. The aim of the event was also to contribute to national policies on Functional urban Areas and Nature-based Solutions by identifying key challenges and possible recommendations.

The Policy Lab gathered Functional Urban Area stakeholders and experts from the fields of FUA cooperation, urban sprawl and Nature-based Solutions, from both Poland and, to a lesser extent, the Netherlands. The session was opened by Mr Jakub Mazur, Deputy Mayor of Wroclaw, followed by a keynote speech by Mr. Rob van Aerschot, Landscape Programme Manager of the Amsterdam Metropolitan Area. Mr. Rob van Aerschot focused on the strength of (cultural) history and images as a base for cooperation, and the need for a bottom-up approach in intermunicipal cooperation. Three working groups were organised by EUKN to go deeper into the topic. They focused on the - sometimes complicated - relation between FUAs and NBS. In the afternoon there were some interesting site visits in the Wroclaw Metropolitan Area, including the Mayor of Siechnice that explained the functioning of the Combined heat and Power plant there. Other NBS related site visits were made to see the Water pumping station in Świątniki functioning as well as a pilot with dwellings with photovoltaic solar panels.

Mart Grisel, director of EUKN, explained the Liveable Compactness model to the participants on day 2, as well as possible different models of governance of FUAs and some of the difficulties or collaboration issues that can occur in intermunicipal cooperation. After that explanation some very interesting working groups were moderated by the three EUKN moderators. The working groups had to analyse the biggest obstacles and also the possible solutions for (the functioning of) Functional Urban Areas and Nature-Based Solutions. During a thorough final plenary discussion on current policy matters in Poland, some follow-up actions were defined.

The general feeling of the participants in the plenary during the finalisation of this Joint Policy Lab can be summarised with the notion that this had been a very useful Policy Lab, and that the big opportunities of FUA´s and NBS, at the same time often being a struggle, will be very high on the European agenda the coming years.