proGIreg glossary


This glossary includes definitions of key terms used within proGIreg. The definitions are specific to this project.


The systematic involvement of all relevant stakeholders from the start to the end of a project (and beyond, in the case of proGIreg), in order to achieve mutually valued outcomes. For proGIreg, it is about involving citizens and civil society, government, the private sector, and research and academia (see quadruple helix approach) in participatory, trans-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder processes for the co-design, co-development, co-implementation and co-evaluation of nature-based solutions. Together with the active engagement of disadvantaged social groups (e.g. social housing inhabitants, refugees or disabled people), this approach aims to enhance stakeholder and citizen ownership of the nature-based solutions created.

Green Infrastructure

A strategically planned network of natural and semi-natural areas within and outside of cities, consisting of diverse green and blue spaces such as parks, nature reserves, green corridors, rivers, riverbanks, green roofs, green walls or urban gardens. Green Infrastructure benefits society in many ways, for example through cleaner air or by enabling citizens to practise sports or socialise in a healthy environment.


Living Labs

The specific areas or neighbourhoods, where social, economic and technological ideas and concepts are developed and tested in real-life settings. In proGIreg, they are co-created within a quadruple helix model (including citizens, local governments, businesses and research and academia), and integrate research and innovation processes, exploration, experimentation and evaluation. The intention is to transfer the acquired knowledge from the Living Labs for use in other locations.

The proGIreg Living Labs involve user communities, not only as observed objects but also as active participants of co-creation. The four Living Labs in Dortmund, Turin, Zagreb and Ningbo are – to varying degrees - former industrial areas that are struggling due to the decline of production and the related loss of jobs in those areas. Within each Living Lab, various nature-based solutions are being implemented to stimulate new economic activities, while regenerating ecological conditions and supporting societal and community cohesion.

Nature-based solutions

Nature-based solutions use natural elements or processes to address societal and environmental challenges. For example, in inner-city areas with little green space available, green walls and roofs are being added to buildings to improve their insulation, filter pollutants, provide food for pollinators, and make the space more pleasant for people to live in, all the while enhancing biodiversity.

The European Commission defines nature-based solutions as: “Solutions that are inspired and supported by nature, which are cost-effective, simultaneously provide environmental, social and economic benefits and help build resilience. Such solutions bring more, and more diverse, nature and natural features and processes into cities, landscapes and seascapes, through locally adapted, resource-efficient and systemic interventions. Nature-based solutions must therefore benefit biodiversity and support the delivery of a range of ecosystem services."


The proGIreg nature-based solutions are specifically adapted to the needs of post-industrial areas. For example, aquaponics - the soilless cultivation of plants and fish whereby the fish waste water provides the nutrients needed to feed the plants - enables communities to grow their own food in areas where vegetable gardening in soil would otherwise not be possible, such as where soil is contaminated.

Green Infrastructure or nature-based solutions?

Green Infrastructure and nature-based solutions share that they are both deliberate interventions and/or a result of strategic planning. In some cases the concepts overlap. For example, community urban gardens could be planned as a nature-based solution, addressing social, environmental and economic challenges, by enabling local residents to spend more time in nature, grow their own healthy food and bond with their neighbours. If the gardens are also planned as a node or corridor within a larger green space system, they can also be considered part of the Green Infrastructure of the area. 

Nature-based solutions business models

ProGIreg business models provide guidance in running (partly) economically self-sustaining businesses, based on one or more of the proGIreg nature-based solutions. The business models show how to overcome existing barriers to implementation and how to establish a business or organizational form to develop revenue streams, such as through sharing economy models, among citizens, civil society, government and the private sector.

Productive Green Infrastructure

Productive Green Infrastructure goes beyond the general benefits and ecosystem services provided by Green Infrastructure. In proGIreg nature-based solutions focus also on producing material or harvestable outputs: energy from landfill sites, fish and vegetables from urban gardening and aquaponics, new soil for urban greenspaces and green roofs. For local communities these outputs present the opportunity to create new local economies and business models in addition to the benefits and co-benefits of Green Infrastructure for the urban living conditions.

Quadruple helix approach

Within proGIreg nature-based solutions are co-created in multi-stakeholder partnerships. The quadruple helix approach represents the core team in each Living Lab consisting of four key stakeholder groups: civil society (NGOs and individual citizens), academia (universities and research institutions), governmental institutions (local governments and other public authorities) and the private sector.


Through this approach, proGIreg ensures that the innovative nature-based solutions developed, are based on reliable scientific evidence, can be implemented within legal frameworks and government mandates, and are economically feasible and adapted to the needs of people. Within proGIreg, the intention is to apply the quadruple helix approach at all levels of research, design, implementation and assessment and in all local partnerships.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 innovation action programme under grant agreement no. 776528. The sole responsibility for the content of this website lies with the proGIreg project and in no way reflects the views of the European Union.