Winning pitch by economist Helen Toxopeus gets NATURVATION the Pathways to Sustainability Award 2020

Helen Toxopeus with Pathways to Sustainability Award 2020
Helen Toxopeus holds the Pathways to Sustainability Award 2020, together with Anton Pijpers, President of the Executive Board of Utrecht University. The other nominees are seen left and right.

With a heartfelt pitch on why nature-based solutions benefit cities with cooling and watermanagement, Helen Toxopeus from the Utrecht University School of Economics, won the Pathways to Sustainability Award 2020 for all her colleagues in the NATURVATION project. This European project is led by professor Harriet Bulkeley, working at Utrecht University and Durham University.

Nature-based solutions are for example green roofs and city parks that limit heat stress, city lagoons that store water and permeable surfaces, vegetation and rain gardens to intercept storm water. They benefit nature and there are business models for implementing these solutions. NATURVATION won the award by public vote on the Pathways to Sustainability Conference 2020 of Utrecht University, after first being selected in a top 3 by a jury out of 18 nominations. The Pathways to Sustainability Award comes with €2500,- to further invest in the project or its follow-up.

Team up with stakeholders

The top 3 were selected because they reflected the rich practices of transdisciplinarity research on sustainability at Utrecht University and are combining their research with the agendas of external stakeholders. NATURVATION for example is partners with - among others - the Newcastle City Council, Malmö City, the Dutch Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving, the Catalan ENT Foundationthe German Leibniz-Institut für Länderkunde, and the City of Utrecht.​

The other two selected projects for the Pathways to Sustainability Award 2020 were Smart Solar Charging (Project leader: Dr Carolien van Hemel) and SustaIndus: Science to support the SDGs and sustainable water management in the transboundary Indus river basin (Project leader: Prof Walter Immerzeel)

Utrecht University in NATURVATION

Several Utrecht University researchers are involved in the 4-year NATURVATION project, carried out at 14 institutions across Europe. Next to environmental governance professor Harriet Bulkeley and economist dr. Helen Toxopeus, they are:

MOOC: Urban Nature

Recently, Lund University, Durham University and Utrecht University, all part of NATURVATION published a MOOC (massive free online open course) at Coursera, called Urban Nature, Connecting Cities, Nature and Innovations. Helen Toxopeus and Harriet Bulkely are teachers in this MOOC. This course explores nature-based solutions in cities in Europe and around the world.

NATURVATION team at Pathways to Sustainability Conference 2020
Anton Pijpers (left) with the NATURVATION team (without Harriet Bulkeley) at the Pathways to Sustainability Conference 2020.