Nature-based solutions for agriculture in circular cities: Challenges, gaps, and opportunities

Alba Canet-Martí, Rocío Pineda-Martos, Ranka Junge, Katrin Bohn, Teresa A. Paço, Cecilia Delgado, Gitana Alenčikienė, Siv Lene Gangenes Skar, Gösta F.M. Baganz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Urban agriculture (UA) plays a key role in the circular metabolism of cities, as it can use water resources, nutrients, and other materials recovered from streams that currently leave the city as solid waste or as wastewater to produce new food and biomass. The ecosystem services of urban green spaces and infrastructures and the productivity of specific urban agricultural technologies have been discussed in literature. However, the understanding of input and output (I/O) streams of different nature-based solutions (NBS) is not yet sufficient to identify the challenges and opportunities they offer for strengthening circularity in UA. We propose a series of agriculture NBS, which, implemented in cities, would address circularity challenges in different urban spaces. To identify the challenges, gaps, and opportunities related to the enhancement of resources management of agriculture NBS, we evaluated NBS units, interventions, and supporting units, and analyzed I/O streams as links of urban circularity. A broader understanding of the food-related urban streams is important to recover resources and adapt the distribution system accordingly. As a result, we pinpointed the gaps that hinder the development of UA as a potential opportunity within the framework of the Circular City.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2565
Number of pages22
JournalWater (Switzerland)
Issue number18
Publication statusPublished - 17 Sept 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments: The work was carried out within the COST Action CA17133 Circular City (“Implementing nature-based solutions for creating a resourceful circular city”,|, duration 22 Oct 2018—21 Oct 2022). COST Actions are funded within the EU Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development (currently: Horizon Europe). The authors are grateful for the support. T.A.P. acknowledges FCT (Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology) through the research unit UID/AGR/04129/LEAF. Additionally, the authors would like to acknowledge all participants of the Circular City workshops that contributed during the discussions to the development of the urban agriculture-related nature-based solutions framework, especially to Celestina M.G. Pedras, G. Adrian Peticilă, and Mart Külvik.

Funding Information:
The APC was funded by the COST Action CA17133 Circular City.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Nutrient streams
  • Resources management
  • Urban agriculture
  • Urban circularity challenges
  • Urban food systems
  • Urban sustainability


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