Collaboration on Nature-based Solutions for Sustainable Cities (CONSUS)


Start date: 1 July, 2023 End date: 30 June, 2027 Project type: Research projects in countries with targeted development cooperation (earlier Window 2) Project code: 23-M02-AU Countries: South Africa Thematic areas: Urban development, Waste management, Water management and sanitation, Lead institution: Aarhus University (AU), Denmark Partner institutions: University of Pretoria (UP), South Africa Habitat Landscape Architects (Pty) Ltd., South Africa SLA Architects, Denmark Project website: go to website (the site might be inactive) Project coordinator: Maya Pasgaard Total grant: 9,999,119 DKK

Project summary

Objectives and results
Competition for space is becoming intense in the world’s rapidly urbanizing cities, where basic infrastructure needs outcompete that of green space. With rising climate extremes and biodiversity loss, calls for innovative approaches to urban planning and design become louder than ever. With a drive for more liveable, healthy, equitable, biodiverse, and resilient cities, the main objective of CONSUS is to facilitate a sustainable transformation of urban blue-green spaces in South Africa together with local communities and government actors. The project focuses on developing so-called nature-based solutions: alternative and non-traditional approaches that protect, restore and manage ecosystems in order to address critical environmental issues like flooding and pollution. Examples of nature-based solutions include river renaturation, constructed wetlands or bioretention areas, but we need to understand how these approaches can be adapted to local needs and conditions.

Most research studies and design protocols on nature-based solutions are from developed economies and may not be suitable for countries like South Africa. Responding to the local context is essential, and so the project intensely involves local communities, their perspectives and know-how, in everything from the design of nature-based solutions and restoration activities to the communication of results within and beyond the local context.
CONSUS aims at delivering concrete outputs that include the training of young researchers, policy recommendations, interactive nature-based design prototypes, ecological restoration by the local community, and outreach activities, such as webinars, film productions, and physical demonstration of results to local stakeholders.

The researchers will work with a range of local stakeholders to reimagine the City of Tshwane, collaborating within and across research disciplines and societal sectors. Specifically, the project addresses societal challenges related to waste and water management by cleaning-up urban rivers, finding innovative ways of handling waste, while improving livelihoods and conserving biodiversity – all driven by working together. The project's methodological approach covers joint workshops, focus group discussions, citizen science, design experiments, interviews and surveys, and ecological monitoring, to ensure that a broad range of perspectives from political processes to landscape design is considered.

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