Nature Based Solutions - Implementation Models Database

Urban public parks, single trees

GAIA - Green Area Inner-city Agreement

A short description of the NSB

As many Southern European cities, Bologna is facing drought, extreme temperatures and water scarcity as a result of climate change. These problems with water availability have been partially attributed to urban deforestation. Trees extract groundwater through their roots and release it into the atmosphere thus contributing to the availability of atmospheric moisture vapour, and provide necessary cooling during heat waves. Trees also have the capacity to increase soil cohesion and therefore they can help to prevent landslides and erosion from occurring. With no national or regional adaptation action plan in place, in 2015 the city of Bologna has adopted the Adaptation Plan to Climate Change, a plan approved by the City Council and focused on the development of innovative measures (that can be tested locally) and on the increasing green spaces number in urban areas. These measures are developed as part of LIFE+ project BLUE AP (Bologna Local Urban Environment Adaptation Plan for a Resilient City). One of the successful initiatives is represented by GAIA ñGreen Areas Inner-city Agreementî. The main objective of GAIA project is to contribute to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions at the local level through the creation of a partnership between Municipality and companies to plant trees throughout the municipal area. In total 23 areas are identified in Bologna that together have a potential of planting 3,000 trees. They include urban parks, industrial districts, hillside parks and local recreational areas. GAIA mechanism is based on the idea to use financial compensation for the carbon footprint of businesses as a main driver for action: financial compensation is used to purchase plants and maintain trees throughout the city. Participation of the town council and local businesses in the GAIA initiative is on a voluntary basis. Bologna is currently implementing a GAIA spin-off project for citizens called RADICI. This project is financed through crowdfunding.

NBS Implementation context
Location Bologna (Italy)
Status (from - to) Ongoing (2010-2013)
NBS Scale City
NBS Impacts scale 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

GAIA project consists of a public-private partnership from the start. Coordinated by the Municipality of Bologna, it involves 4 Partners. Each of the partners involved brings in their own expertise. The Institute of Biometeorology of the National Research Council (IBIMET) supports on the development of scientific guidelines. Impronta Etica, a non-profit organisation that aims to promote sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), helps to develop the partnership model. Unindustria Bologna, an association of entrepreneurs in Bologna, focuses on the involvement of enterprises. Finally, Cittalia, a local branch of the National association of Italian cities and municipalities focused on research activities, provides support in the communication and dissemination needs. The participation of the town council and local businesses in GAIA initiative is on a voluntary basis. An easy-to-use form on the project website allows businesses to calculate the quantity of CO2 involved in their processes and services. The business can select one of three types of partnership they would like to purchase to neutralise their carbon footprint. The city of Bologna has developed clear guidelines that detail the various steps in the process and which party is responsible. The city identifies the cost components, approves the Protocol of Agreement, takes the initiative to start the planting works and pays the tree suppliers. The city also commits to providing a monitoring report every 6 months from the start of the partnership.

Initial actors (Leaders) Community Research institutions
Involved actors Governments Local government/municipality Semi-government organizations / institutions, Community Research institutions, Market Private sector
Ecological scale City scale green networks
Governance model CLUSTER 2: New Public Management Public_private partnership (PPP)
NBS Financial aspects

Global (estimated) cost of the project 1Mó- 5Mó
Financing mechanism CLUSTER 4: PUBLIC-PRIVATE Private Finance Iniative PFI (Public: EU (LIFE Climate Action) - Private: charitable donation)
NBS Business Models Archetype
Technological Maximize material productivity and energy efficiency
Social Adopt a stewardship role
Organisational Develop scale-up solutions
NBS Success and limiting factors
Process enablers
Knowledge Generation of evidence Lesson learnt through implemented projects Research on benefits, Awareness Climate Change
Governance -
Economy Government support Public-private partnerships, Create conditions for new business models and finance schemes
Process inibitors
Knowledge Uncertainty Operational unknown Performance unknown
Governance Complexity of governance structure Role ambiguity
Economy Budget constraints Lack of funding knowledge
IM Keywords
  • City scale green networks

  • Public–private partnership (PPP)

  • Private Finance Iniative PFI

  • Maximize material productivity and energy efficiency

  • Adopt a stewardship role

  • Develop scale-up solutions