Topic 2: Circular models for regenerating, repurposing, protecting and conserving urban space for biodiversity

Challenge Description

Safeguarding and enriching urban ecosystems and biodiversity emerge as critical imperatives for fostering sustainable urban development in the face of mounting ecological challenges. This topic underscores the importance of collaborative efforts among policymakers, urban planners, environmentalists and communities to implement effective strategies for preserving and restoring urban biodiversity; paradigm-level shifts are envisaged and expected. It is centred on the reshaping of urban planning policies to rejuvenate ecological landscapes within urban and peri-urban settings and mitigate the adverse effects of urbanisation on biodiversity and ecosystem health.



Proposals submitted to this topic should concentrate on innovative approaches to urban biodiversity conservation, encompassing mitigation and adaptation measures in urban planning and design, and for both redevelopment and new construction projects in urban environments including but not limited to public spaces, urban nature and greenery, and infrastructure. The topic emphasises the importance of preserving and enhancing urban biodiversity through legislative measures, community engagement and sustainable urban planning and design practices, as well as the exploration of nature-based solutions to address different urban pollution issues. The topic entails circular challenges related to urban biodiversity issues regarding land availability, property management, and unsealing practices, requiring paradigm level shifts. It also emphasises how various legislative and other initiatives, can catalyse change by influencing new planning rules and promoting intensified urban renaturing for European cities and beyond.


Project proposals submitted under this topic should address one or several of the following questions:

  • How can urban green and blue spaces be effectively protected, enhanced and managed to safeguard urban ecosystems and biodiversity?


  • How can legislation and other driving forces that negatively affect urban habitats, nature and biodiversity be analysed and addressed? How can legislative targets be utilised to enhance and restore biodiverse urban habitats while actively engaging urban communities in capacity building?


  • How can biodiversity considerations be seamlessly integrated into urban planning, design, architecture and landscape architecture to ensure the protection and enhancement of urban landscapes?


  • What are the economic and societal, including amenity, health and well-being benefits of biodiversity measures and nature-based solutions in urban areas? How can these be effectively demonstrated through practical projects? How can trade-offs between long-term benefits and short-term costs of urban biodiversity measures and nature-based solutions be negotiated and researched, leading to a paradigm shift?


  • How can and/or do circular urban business models contribute to circular solutions in relation to effective strategies and policy reshaping?


  • How can circular urban business models offer ecosystem services while also considering biodiversity footprints, including material origins and destinations? Additionally, how can we measure the CO2 emission reductions resulting from implementing nature-based solutions in these models?


  • How can justice – encompassing obligations and rights, the distribution of advantages and disadvantages – be incorporated into urban biodiversity initiatives? Furthermore, how can appropriate goals be incorporated into urban biodiversity initiatives, and incompatible goals be balanced?


  • What role do urban circular supply chains, waste management systems, and recycling initiatives play in supporting urban biodiversity conservation efforts, and how can they be optimised to minimise habitat destruction and pollution while maximising resource recovery and reuse in urban spaces?


  • How can cities leverage circular business models, such as ecosystem services’ trading, green procurement and biodiversity offsetting, to incentivise private sector involvement in urban biodiversity conservation and sustainable development?


  • How can nature-based solutions be designed in urban landscapes and green-blue structures to function as adaptation measures against climate’s impacts like temperature shifts, extreme weather, flooding, and drought?


Expected Outputs and Outcomes

Rather than provide isolated technical solutions, projects are expected to address this topic in a systemic way. Project outcomes should be impact-oriented and process-oriented, and therefore as concrete and user-centred as possible. Expected outputs and outcomes include, but are not limited to:


  • Contributing to paradigm level shifts in urban planning, design, architecture and landscape architecture towards a biocentric perspective, where urban areas and communities are further integrated into nature for sustainable socio-ecological balance across urban-rural gradients.


  • Strengthening urban biodiversity and ecosystem services through collaborative stakeholder engagement and widespread dissemination of findings for broader impact. Advocating for justice and equity in conservation and restoration initiatives, ensuring actions go beyond mere inclusion and explanation to citizens, actively catalysing behavioural shifts favouring sustainable transitions. Highlighting the diverse values of urban renaturing and circular economy principles, including economic benefits alongside other values, such as environmental, social, and health advantages.


  • Projects are expected to create dissemination strategies of their project results for uptake by stakeholders (outcomes) to contribute to broader impact. Funded projects should strive to instigate profound changes in urban landscapes, fostering symbiotic relationships between human habitats and natural ecosystems while championing principles of justice, equity, and economic viability in urban biodiversity conservation.