Urban Nature-Based Solutions – Revitalising the City?

About the project or challenge area

Urban environmental problems ranging from air pollution to heatwaves and coastal flooding are increasingly being addressed through so-called ‘nature-based solutions’ (NBS) – solutions that work with or enhance the capacities of natural organisms and processes. Examples of urban NBS include technologies which use moss to tackle air pollution, ‘smart urban forests’ whose contributions to reducing heat or attenuating flood risk are monitored through environmental sensors, and even living oyster reefs designed to reduce coastal erosion and mitigate coastal storm risks. But the growing popularity of nature-based solutions comes with risks as well as opportunities. In this project, you will critically assess how specific nature-based solutions are reshaping the politics of urban environmental governance processes, asking who benefits from these innovations, how they impact upon public access to urban space and participation in urban renewal, and even how they might alter our understandings of the forms of nonhuman life which are (or are not) welcome in cities of the future.

Why choose this opportunity?

You will have the opportunity to shape the focus of this project in consultation with your supervisor, and to pursue one or more case studies that especially interest you. You will develop interdisciplinary expertise in more-than-human geography, environmental politics, and urban political ecology, and produce research findings with direct practical relevance to the implementation of urban sustainability and ‘smart city’ agendas.

About you

You should have some prior experience of undertaking independent research drawing on qualitative methods, as well as an interest in environmental politics, ideally including the governance and management of nature in cities. Some familiarity with academic literatures in urban political ecology and/or environmental geography would be especially helpful.

How to apply

All students can apply using the button below, following the Cabot Masters by Research Admission Statement. Please note that this is an advertised project, which means you only have to complete Section A of the Research Statement.

Before applying, we recommend getting in touch with the project supervisor. If you are interested in this project and would like to learn more about the research you will be undertaking, please use the contact details on this page.

James Palmer Supervisor

Your supervisor for this project will be Dr James Palmer in the School of Geographical Sciences. You can contact him at +44 (0)1179 288392 or email 

Find out more about your prospective research community

The City Futures theme is a vibrant community of researchers who are helping cities to better understand the complex challenges they face, and support their transition to becoming sustainable, resilient and inclusive places with a high quality of life for all. Find out more about the City Futures research theme.

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