Building with Nature in Cities Table

About the Building with Nature in Cities Table:

The Netherlands is facing major spatial challenges to integrate biodiversity, climate, infrastructure and housing objectives into a healthy future for people and nature. The current ways of thinking and concepts of spatial planning, technology and economics are evolving to meet these challenges because they need to integrate an essential basis: the natural environment. We are dealing with a major loss of biodiversity and nature, and the policy to reverse this loss has made it clear that there will be limits to the current way of growth in housing (final recommendation of the Remkes Committee). At the same time, there is a need for a strong expansion of the number of dwellings with its infrastructure and employment (national housing assignment). Health is considered increasingly important, requirements for air pollution and particulate matter are becoming stricter and there is more attention for a healthy lifestyle. In addition, the challenges in the field of climate adaptation are growing and climate extremes are increasingly leading to flooding and heat stress.

All these challenges come together in the city, where densification and improvement of the quality of the living environment must come together. It is remarkable that the rural area is becoming increasingly nature-poor (think of monoculture, deforestation surplus nutrients) and that the city must therefore increasingly serve as a source from which nature in the rural area also becomes stronger. That is why it is important that we use the city optimally.

The Building with Nature in Cities Initiative

There are promising ideas about how we can achieve this desired leap in quality on various fronts in order to achieve a nature-positive urbanization while the urban fabric compacts. At project level there are already many different examples and the market and different regions are looking at how these examples can be anchored in performance requirements for policy, questions, legal instruments and what consequences this has on the total costs. However, at city level where the larger blue – green structures can offer added value, possibilities for anchoring and examples are even less clear. Many of the ideas about large-scale green-blue networks have also not yet been tested in practice or do not yet have a knowledge base.

Primary Purpose

Urban professionals in the Netherlands want cities to have a more extensive, more branched, robust green-blue network as the basis for a healthy and climate-adaptive living environment. Green as a basic amenity in public space: nearby everywhere, varied and accessible. Blue as veins through the green for water drainage, storage and cooling; both connected to the landscape around the city. Where a ‘green vision’ is often embraced, it still has an incidental character in the implementation or is mainly tackled at district level or plot level. That is why strategies are needed that ensure continuity on a larger scale and alliances are needed that work together in cities for several years to implement a green vision at different scales.

Nine parties have therefore joined forces to come up with a knowledge programme ‘Nature-positive urbanisation’.

Ambitions and Key Factors

The knowledge programme will focus as much as possible on applied knowledge that can be developed (at least in part) by using the parks to be realised as a living lab. The program will result in generically applicable guidelines for upscaling and replication. The aim is to develop innovative building blocks for nature-inclusive urban planning that are in line with the landscape, climate change, ecosystems and cultural history.


  • Stadsparken Dordtwijkzone en Wantij – Dordrecht


The table has started and the beginning stages are taking place.



Harro Wieringa
Witteveen + Bos
[email protected]
Lotte de Jong
[email protected]