Nature Based Solutions - Implementation Models Database

Re-profiling river banks

Citizen Initiative Greening Canals

A short description of the NSB

Greening Canals is a citizen initiative aimed at greening the canals and their river banks in Utrecht (the Netherlands) to improve the ecological quality and the attractiveness of the river banks for local residents. Part of the project are floating islands of plants and nature friendly river banks. Greening the river banks contributes to climate adaptation, making the urban area more resilient to the effects of climate change (drought, flooding, and heat waves). Besides that, the greening is also beneficial to the health and well-being of local residents. It furthermore increases urban biodiversity. The citizens have organized themselves as the Citizen Initiative Greening Canals. They receive (financial) support from the municipality and the local water authority. The initiative carries the responsibility for the implementation of the project and the maintenance of the area, including the vegetation. The project promotes the wishes of residents _ recreational opportunities, sustainable water management, clean water and aims to take into account the interests and needs of nature. The citizen initiative was allowed to operate autonomously to a certain extent. The only requirement was that they had to take into account existing regulations from the municipality and the water authority.

NBS Implementation context
Location Utrecht (The Netherlands)
Status (from - to) Project delivered (2013-2016)
NBS Scale Object (canal and river banks) Neighbourhood City
NBS Impacts scale Object (canal and river banks) Neighbourhood City
Urban density/ Soil consumption High (dense city center)
NBS Typology

NBS Uban Challenges
Climate Issues Climate mitigation
Climate adaptation
Other 0
Urban water management and quality Urban water management and quality
Flood management
Other 0
Air Quality Air quality at district/city scale
Air quality locally
Other 0
Urban Space and Biodiversity Biodiversity
Urban space design
Urban space management
Other 0
Urban Regeneration and Soil Air quality at district/city scale
Other 0
Resource efficiency Food, energy and water
Raw materials
Other 0
Public health and well-being Acustic
Quality of life
Other 0
Environmental justice and social cohesion Environmental Justice: Recognition
Environmental Justice: Procedural Justice
Environmental Justice: Distributional Justice
Environmental Justice: Capabilities
Environmental Justice: Responsibility
Social Cohesion
Other 0
Urban planning and governance Urban planning and form
Governance in planning
Other 0
People Security Control of crimes
Control of extraordinary events
Other 0
Green economy Circular economy
Bioeconomy activities
Direct economic value of NBS
Other 0
NBS Stakeholders & Governance

The project has been initiated and managed by citizens with help from the municipality and the local water authority. A few citizens who initiated the project have united themselves in a citizen initiative. Local residents support the project as volunteers to help maintain the riverbanks.

Initial actors (Leaders) Community Citizens
Involved actors Governments Local government/municipality Semi-government organizations / institutions, Community Citizens
Ecological scale Local scale green area
Governance model CLUSTER 4: Societal Resilience Co-management
NBS Financial aspects

The project is financed by the municipality, the local water authority and by citizens.

Global (estimated) cost of the project -
Financing mechanism CLUSTER 1: Public financing CLUSTER 3: Citizen inclusion Volunteering
NBS Business Models Archetype
Technological Non applicable
Social Non applicable
Organisational Non applicable
NBS Success and limiting factors
Process enablers
Knowledge Awareness Climate Change
Governance Process efficiencies Collaboration, Self- governance Grassroots innovations and transition initiatives, Co-creation and participation Involvement of urban government
Economy De-risking Sharing risks, Government support, Self-financing and self-management
Process inibitors
Knowledge -
Governance Institutional barriers Lack of flexibility of decision making structures
Economy -
IM Keywords
  • Co-management

  • Local scale green area

  • Public financing

  • Volunteering