A conceptual model of the social-ecological system of nature-based solutions in urban environments

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • External authors:
  • Konstantinos Tzoulas
  • Juonjo Galan
  • Stephen Venn
  • Bas Pedroli
  • Himansu Mishra
  • Dagmar Haase
  • Stephan Pauleit
  • Jari Niemelä
  • Philip James


This article provides a perspective on nature-based solutions. First, the argument is developed that nature-based solutions integrate social and ecological systems. Then, theoretical considerations relating to relational values, multifunctionality, transdisciplinarity, and polycentric governance are briefly outlined. Finally, a conceptual model of the social-ecological system of nature-based solutions is synthesized and presented. This conceptual model comprehensively defines the social and ecological external and internal systems that make up nature-based solutions and identifies theoretical considerations that need to be addressed at different stages of their planning and implementation The model bridges the normative gaps of existing nature-based solution frameworks and could be used for consistent, comprehensive, and transferable comparisons internationally. The theoretical considerations addressed in this article inform practitioners, policymakers, and researchers about the essential components of nature-based solutions. The conceptual model can facilitate the identification of social and ecological interconnections within nature-based solutions and the range of stakeholders and disciplines involved.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 11 Sep 2020

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