SLU news

Urban nature connects Europe and Latin America

Published: 29 October 2021
City view Bogota. Photo.

By connecting researchers, policy makers, local communities and developers, the Conexus project is co-creating and evidencing solutions that are inspired and supported by nature. SLU is coordinating and running the seven living labs in seven countries in Europe and Latin America with the purpose to build partnership with local communities for learning and sharing of Nature-based solutions.

Across Europe and Latin America many of the cities face the same challenges. By sharing experience and knowledge, people can learn from each other, identify and implement the right solutions for each landscape context.

Nature-based solutions and ecosystem restoration have the potential to enable cities to overcome many of the shared challenges they face, simultaneously providing environmental, social and economic benefits. Cities and communities need evidence of long-term viability before investing in nature-based solutions and ecosystem restoration. Conexus is a four-year project that will provide accessible knowledge on how to restore natural ecosystems; improve the quality of life in and around cities; and support collaboration between Latin America and Europe.

SLU coordinates Seven Life-Labs

SLU coordinates the establishment and running of seven Life-Labs, located in Bogota, Buenos Aires, Santiago and Sao Paulo in South America, and in Barcelona, Lisbon and Turing in Europe.

- These Life-Labs provide an opportunity to collaborate and build partnerships with local communities. The aim is to learn how to support the development of nature-based solutions in each city and create mechanisms to involve citizens, academics, public, private, and third sectors, says Geovana Mercado, postdoctor, Department of Landscape Architecture, Planning and Management.  

One example is the Life-Lab in Bogota, that will explore new ways to achieve sustainable urbanisation in expansion areas in one of Latin America's most dense cities. Nature-based solutions, delivered in the boroughs of Usme (south) and Suba (north), will include the restoration of ecosystems such as streams and riparian forest; exploring the use of biofilters and artificial wetlands in removing pollutants; the creation of local food gardens; exploring opportunities for water storage; and instilling a greater appreciation of cultural and natural heritage.

- We focus on co-creation in the Life-Labs. The cities within the project share common challenges of sustainable urbanisation and they all have a vision to implement place-based nature-based solutions and nature-based thinking, says Geovana Mercado

The work within the Life-Labs will result in ecological restoration programmes, by developing new ways of working in an integrated way across institutions and organisations in all cities.

- We are currently reflecting together for developing a new paradigm that could guide our many relations to nature: Nature Based Thinking. We aim to promote visions of urban futures contributing positively to planetary health: reconnecting people with nature and healthy and more biodiverse restored ecosystems, says Geovana Mercado

New ways of thinking, acting and relating to the environment are needed. As a next step the project will organize “Futures Workshops” in each city Life-Labs which will explore how the idea of Nature Based Thinking might be developed for transformation towards more just and ecologically sustainable futures.

Follow the project on the CONEXUS twitter account for updates.


Geovana Mercado
Postdoctor at the Department of Landscape Architecture, Planning and Management

Telephone: +4640415141

Åsa Ode Sang, Professor at the Department of Landscape Architecture, Planning and Management

Phone: 040-41 54 38

Thomas Randrup, Professor
Department of Landscape Architecture, Governance and Management
Phone: 072 547 0508