The new Horizon2020 funded NICE project aims to promote the use of nature-based solutions for circular urban water management. The project will generate knowledge for the design and implementation of NbS with the goal of closing urban water loops. The solutions will capture water, treat it and repurpose it for different uses, while mitigating pollution and runoff.
Building in an extensive analysis of existing nature-based solutions, NICE will develop and test new approaches in labs and 'Urban Real Labs'. NICE nature-based solutions will address all facets of the urban water cycle; wastewater, greywater, river basins, stormwater and combined sewer overflow. The nature-based solutions developed in NICE will include green walls, green roofs, rain gardens and hybrid subsurface wetlands, that will then be enhanced with tailored strategies such as bioaugmentation and development of innovative reactive media. Furthermore, to contribute to the upscale and widespread of nature-based solutions, NICE will entail the development of an open-source modelling tool that can be used to test, for a given site, the performance of different nature-based solutions and select the most suitable technology for creating sustainable urban water loops.
The Urban Real Lab sites are Vigo, Talavera, Algeciras, Benalmadena, Madrid (all in Spain), Lyon (France), Turin (Italy), Aarhus (Denmark), Gdansk (Poland), Cairo (Egypt) and Pereira (Colombia). Furthermore, four fellow sites will also implement NICE NBS pilots for further testing, selected among the NICE fellow cities that are learning from the main URLs throughout the project; Ostrava (Czech Republic), Vienna (Austria), Copenhagen (Denmark), Tirana (Albania), Belgrade (Serbia), Quito (Ecuador) and Kunming (China).
To achieve sustainable circular urban water loops, the project will integrate research, private sector, citizens, policies and economy, providing the knowledge base for the integration of nature-based solutions in the urban context by:
- Enabling the scaling-up of nature-based solutions across Europe through development of standards, guidelines and methodologies, based on results from research and development on innovative nature-based solutions at lab and URL scales and the review of existing nature-based solutions.
- Creating new business and investment models for cost-effective solutions benefitting the environment, economy and society.
- Identifying obstacles, barriers and opportunities in current regulatory frameworks to support the integration of nature-based solutions.
- Raising awareness among the general public, by involving local stakeholders in co-creation of the Urban Real Labs.
Coordinated by CETIM (Fundación Centro Tecnológico de Investigación Multisectorial), with the support of AQUALIA, and 13 other partners at the forefront of NBS research and implementation, NICE will help transform the European urban water landscape to a more sustainable source.