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Special Issue "Nature-Based Solutions for Water Management from Pilot to Standard"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Water Management".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Alberto Pistocchi
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
EC Joint Research Centre, 1050 Brussels, Belgium
Interests: Environment; Water Quality; Spatial Analysis; Environmental Pollution; Water Resources Management; Hydrological Modeling; Rivers; Hydraulics; Hydrologic and Water Resource Modeling and Simulation; Water Balance
Dr. Emanuele Quaranta
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Joint Research Centre of European Commission, Ispra, Italy
Interests: urban greening and the water-energy nexus; hydraulic turbines; fish friendly solutions; fish passages; low head hydropower
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Maria Luisa Paracchini
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
EC Joint Research Centre, 21027 Ispra, Italy
Interests: sustainable agriculture
Dr. Grazia Zulian
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
EC Joint Research Centre, 21027 Ispra, Italy
Interests: urban ecosystem condition and ecosystem services modelling; mapping and assessment; modelling and mapping nature-based recreation (with a special interest in urban blue/green infrastructure)

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Nature-based solutions (NBS) are broadly called upon to address water management problems ranging from flood protection to pollution, in a context made more challenging by climate change, population growth and urban land take. Many NBS are now broadly accepted as state of the art. However, they are still less commonly adopted than traditional “grey” engineering solutions, and are still regarded as “pilots” rather than standard design options. Reasons for this must be searched for, among others, in a lack of know-how, lesser predictability of the performances, higher space requirements compared to compact technological solutions, etc. Yet, the co-benefits of NBS in terms of supporting biodiversity and human well-being should be in principle a convincing reason for their adoption whenever possible. 

This Special Issue focuses on the analysis of drivers and enablers of NBS uptake in mainstream water management. It aims at showing the business case for a broad adoption of NBS in water management because of their cost-effectiveness and multi-functionality. We look particularly at NBS for wastewater and sludge treatment, urban drainage, water harvesting and diffuse pollution mitigation. Concerning the latter, we are interested both in “end-of-pipe” solutions addressing the removal of pollutants (e.g. buffer strips), and in “at-source” solutions (e.g. enhance nitrogen fixation to reduce fertilizer input).

The Special Issue welcomes submissions presenting case studies and regional assessments of opportunities for, and limitations to the implementation of NBS. We would like contributions to highlight the factors that may prove critical in the decision to adopt NBS as an alternative or as a complement to grey infrastructure.

Dr. Alberto Pistocchi
Dr. Emanuele Quaranta
Dr. Maria Luisa Paracchini
Dr. Grazia Zulian
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1900 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • water management
  • nature-based solutions
  • urban greening
  • agricultural buffer strips
  • nitrogen fixation
  • constructed wetlands
  • adaptation to climate change
  • biodiversity

Published Papers (4 papers)

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Research

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Article
Agricultural Water Management Using Two-Stage Channels: Performance and Policy Recommendations Based on Northern European Experiences
Sustainability 2021, 13(16), 9349; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13169349 - 20 Aug 2021
Viewed by 770
Abstract
Conventional dredging of ditches and streams to ensure agricultural drainage and flood mitigation can have severe environmental impacts. The aim of this paper is to investigate the potential benefits of an alternative, nature-based two-stage channel (TSC) design with floodplains excavated along the main [...] Read more.
Conventional dredging of ditches and streams to ensure agricultural drainage and flood mitigation can have severe environmental impacts. The aim of this paper is to investigate the potential benefits of an alternative, nature-based two-stage channel (TSC) design with floodplains excavated along the main channel. Through a literature survey, investigations at Finnish field sites and expert interviews, we assessed the performance, costs, and monetary environmental benefits of TSCs in comparison to conventional dredging, as well as the bottlenecks in their financing and governance. We found evidence supporting the expected longer-term functioning of drainage as well as larger plant and fish biodiversity in TSCs compared to conventional dredging. The TSC design likely improves water quality since the floodplains retain suspended sediment and phosphorus and remove nitrogen. In the investigated case, the additional value of phosphorus retention and conservation of protected species through the TSC design was 2.4 times higher than the total costs. We demonstrate how TSCs can be made eligible for the obligatory vegetated riparian buffer of the European Union agri-environmental subsidy scheme (CAP-AES) by optimising their spatial application with respect to other buffer measures, and recommend to publicly finance their additional costs compared to conventional dredging at priority sites. Further studies on biodiversity impacts and long-term performance of two-stage channels are required. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nature-Based Solutions for Water Management from Pilot to Standard)
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Article
A Methodology for Assessing the Implementation Potential for Retrofitted and Multifunctional Urban Green Infrastructure in Public Areas of the Global South
Sustainability 2021, 13(1), 384; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su13010384 - 04 Jan 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1193
Abstract
Urban green infrastructure (UGI) provides multiple functions that combine ecological and social benefits. UGI is being increasingly promoted and implemented in the Global North. In other parts of the world, such as in the Global South, infrastructures for UGI implementation and promotion are [...] Read more.
Urban green infrastructure (UGI) provides multiple functions that combine ecological and social benefits. UGI is being increasingly promoted and implemented in the Global North. In other parts of the world, such as in the Global South, infrastructures for UGI implementation and promotion are sparse. The state of infrastructure development and informal settlements in the Global South present different constraints and demands that should be explicitly addressed. This study presents an approach to addressing the specific conditions and physical limitations of UGI development in urban areas of the Global South. A four-step methodology was developed to assess the implementation potential for retrofitted and multifunctional urban green infrastructure in public areas. This methodology consists of (1) an initial site analysis, (2) defining design criteria and general strategies, (3) exploring the different dimensions of multifunctionality as the basis for deriving spatial typologies, and (4) assessing spatial suitability for potential placements for UGI elements. The methodology was applied to a study area in the metropolitan region of San José, Costa Rica. The results indicate the potential to improve the hydrological (up to 34% of surface runoff reduction), ecological (an increase of green space by 2.2%, creation of 1500 m length of roadside greenery and two new habitat types), and social conditions (2200 m of road type upgrading) of the site through UGIs. This assessment of different multifunctionality dimensions can serve as a guide for future UGI promotion and implementation in urban areas of the Global South. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nature-Based Solutions for Water Management from Pilot to Standard)
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Article
Vision-Based Decision-Making Methodology for Riparian Forest Restoration and Flood Protection Using Nature-Based Solutions
Sustainability 2020, 12(8), 3305; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su12083305 - 18 Apr 2020
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1500
Abstract
Nature-based solutions (NBS) are actions that use natural processes in a resource efficient manner to solve societal challenges. The lack of supportive legislature, and financial, communication and social barriers complicate the process of NBS implementation. It is an urgent need to develop approaches [...] Read more.
Nature-based solutions (NBS) are actions that use natural processes in a resource efficient manner to solve societal challenges. The lack of supportive legislature, and financial, communication and social barriers complicate the process of NBS implementation. It is an urgent need to develop approaches to design and implement NBS that would act as drivers to overcome potential barriers and enhance the social acceptability of the project. The vision-based decision-making methodology and participatory process created in this study has been carried out in the Koiliaris Critical Zone Observatory in Crete to design erosion and flood protection NBS and restore the riparian forest. The methodology consists of four distinct steps as follows: i) develop a vision of the area, ii) conduct a baseline assessment study, iii) NBS design and co-design, and iv) procurement and implementation. The methodology overcame multiple barriers because of the effective stakeholder engagement and the vision “drove” the project and created the necessary consensus that is necessary to achieve the objective of converting privately owned prime agricultural land to riparian forest. It offers an exemplar of a functional ecosystem restoration project that protects the river in a sustainable way, improves its biodiversity and water quality and improves the quality of life and social cohesion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nature-Based Solutions for Water Management from Pilot to Standard)
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Review

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Review
Analyzing Evidence of Sustainable Urban Water Management Systems: A Review through the Lenses of Sociotechnical Transitions
Sustainability 2020, 12(11), 4481; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/su12114481 - 01 Jun 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 1525
Abstract
Sustainability concerns and multiple socio-environmental pressures have necessitated a shift towards Sustainable Urban Water Management (SUWM) systems. Viewing SUWM systems as sociotechnical, this paper departs from eight factors previously identified by transition research: Pressures, Context, Purposes, Actors, Instruments, [...] Read more.
Sustainability concerns and multiple socio-environmental pressures have necessitated a shift towards Sustainable Urban Water Management (SUWM) systems. Viewing SUWM systems as sociotechnical, this paper departs from eight factors previously identified by transition research: Pressures, Context, Purposes, Actors, Instruments, Processes, Outputs, and Outcomes as a methodological framework for a structured review of 100 articles. The study seeks to analyze empirical cases of planning and implementing SUWM systems worldwide. A wide range of public actors—driven by social and environmental factors rather than by economic pressures—have initiated SUWM projects so as to locally fulfill defined social and environmental purposes. We provide evidence on the emergence of new actors, such as experts, users, and private developers, as well as on the diverse and innovative technical and societal instruments used to promote and implement SUWM systems. We also explore their contexts and institutional capacity to deal with pressures and to mobilize significant financial and human resources, which is in itself vital for the transition to SUWM. Planned or implemented SUWM outputs are divided into green (wet ponds, raingardens, and green roofs) and gray (rain barrels and porous pavements) measures. The outcomes of SUWM projects—in terms of societal and technical learning, and their institutional uptakes—are often implicit or lacking, which seemingly reduces the rate of desirable change. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Nature-Based Solutions for Water Management from Pilot to Standard)
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