The CLEVER Cities project concludes after an impressive 5-year initiative that has set significant milestones in urban regeneration. It leaves behind successful achievements and a path for transformative urban regeneration that others can follow. The project spanned across European cities such as Hamburg, London, and Milan (front runner cities), but also reached out to China and Quito (Ecuador), supporting a fundamental shift in cooperative strategies for sustainable urban development. It particularly emphasized the role that Nature-based Solutions (NbS) can play in growing more sustainable and inclusive cities worldwide.
What CLEVER Cities Achieved:
The core essence of the project was its collaborative approach. Cities engaged in inclusive planning processes, diverse learning, and intensive exchanges to develop a new perspective on urban transformation based on nature-based interventions. Keyachievements of the CLEVER Cities project include:
Local teams in the front runner cities Hamburg, London, and Milan implemented tailored urban changes by collaborating with residents, businesses, knowledge partners, and authorities. For instance, Hamburg created a green pathway with natural playgrounds and sustainable urban drainage systems, while London supported community-led greening projects and educational initiatives. Milan invested in green roofs and facades throughout the city. These approaches ensured that urban renewal was not just a process but a participative journey catering to the specific needs of each community.
The project's impact extended beyond these three cities, reaching places like Belgrade, Larissa, Madrid, Malmö, Sfântu Gheorghe, and Quito. Knowledge and expertise were exchanged to adapt NbS interventions to various urban contexts worldwide. Study visits brought representatives from different cities together to observe urban greening initiatives. A pinnacle event, the CLEVER Cities Final Conference (Nature in the City), explored the social and environmental impacts of urban greening and facilitated the exchange of NbS projects worldwide. Conference sessions can be viewed on the project youtube channel.
A central outcome is the developed CLEVER Guidance, offering diverse insights and lessons to promote urban regeneration strategies globally and serving as a central repository for the project's key outcomes. It includes, among other things:
The Local Innovation Screening Tool (LIST), which alters innovation assessment and emphasizes significant impacts to foster a pioneering spirit among cities and also
The CLEVER Regional Solutions Catalogue, which illustrates the various benefits that urban NbS can generate for the environment, society and economy through a rich compilation of case studies
Additionally, as part of the project, podcasts and interviews were recorded, providing insights into the practical implementation of NbS in urban regeneration and sharing insights gained from 5 years of project experience.
All these resources serve as guides for stakeholders aiming to realize the potential of NbS. However, they signify just the beginning, as cities continue to promote green initiatives and knowledge exchange in their regions.
While the CLEVER Cities project concludes, its influence on urban planning remains, inspiring cities to consider nature-centric approaches for resilient and sustainable urban landscapes. The project's legacy promises to support cities on the path toward a more environmentally conscious and connected future, fostering thriving communities worldwide. To see what happens next, stay in touch with the project cities via NetworkNature and ICLEI, as project cities are active in both networks.