Digitalisation, Urban Planning, Water…

C/O City – Promoting urban ecosystem services in planning and construction

C/O City – Promoting urban ecosystem services in planning and construction

C/O City is an NGO committed to promoting ecosystem-based solutions to urban challenges. Our QGIS planning support tool highlights the differentiated benefits of green surfaces provide in the city. It can be used free-of-charge in city planning and evaluation of proposed land-use change.

Urbanization, if planned and managed properly, contributes to economic, environmental and social sustainability. Developing and integrating technical solutions that draw on and strengthen ecosystem services will increasingly be needed in urban development. C/O City is an NGO committed to promoting ecosystem-based solutions to urban challenges.

A key tool is currently being developed and tested, which aims at highlighting the differentiated benefits green surfaces provide in the city. The methodology Grönytefaktor, GYF (Green Area Factor) provides estimates of the aggregate functions (ecological and others), provided by green space in public areas in new city districts. The tool supports the identification, assessment and implementation of the ecological values in urban areas for city planning processes.

In 2019 the GYF tool is being integrated into an open-source GIS platform (QGIS), opening up for free-of-charge use wherever there is interest and need for promoting urban ecosystem services across Sweden and globally. Other tools and technologies promoted by the NGO include green roofs and walls, and nature-based stormwater management solutions.

In Sweden, the concept of a “smart and sustainable city” is closely associated with the integration of nature in the urban planning process. The mindset makes it possible to protect and even increase biodiversity in the urban environment, while also contributing to other goals, such as increased ability to deal with extreme weather events and improved public health, through improved air quality and reduced noise.

Why best practice?

C/O City is a non-governmental organization with a membership of engineering, architecture and construction businesses, several municipalities across the country. Work was initiated in a development and demonstration project in 2010. Some 15+ partners across Sweden came together to develop, test and demonstrate methods and tools for integrating and supporting ecosystem services in urban planning and construction. The effort was co-funded by the Swedish government, through Vinnova.

When the project came to an end in 2017, a handful of key partners decided to form an NGO carrying the same name as the original project. The aim was to ensure that the lessons learned and the results reached during the project would be available in the future, and that the momentum and widespread interest in the issues that the project had managed to create would not go to waste. The NGO was formed in 2018.

The organization aims at becoming the key actor in Sweden collecting and disseminating knowledge and experience from implementing and promoting ecosystem services in urban development. C/O City is primarily funded through membership fees and receives no government support for its core operations.

The success factor

Over the last decade, the time has in many ways been right for a slogan like “Let nature do the work”. Swedish government policy has specifically aimed at increasing the knowledge among decision-makers and planners of the importance of ecosystem services, and in media and among the general public there has been growing interest for the issues.

C/O was a success as a project because of the way its methods and tools were provided at the right time, and against the background of a sustained and well-planned communication effort. The important role played by key individuals within the project should not be underestimated – without their energy, commitment and focus the project would never have reached the long-term results it achieved.

The newly formed NGO aims to be a hub and natural convener for all things concerning urban ecosystem services. We are building on the results from the project, while broadening the scope, inviting new partners, and reaching outside the borders of Sweden.


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