Context matters: Co-creating nature-based solutions in rural living labs

Katriina Soini, Carl Cyrus Anderson, Annemarie Polderman, Carlone Teresa, Debele Sisay, Prashant Kumar, Matteo Mannocchi, Slobodan Mickovski, Depy Panga, Francesco Pilla, Swantje Preuschmann, Jeetendra Sahani, Heikki Tuomenvirta

The use of Nature-based Solutions (NBS), designed and implemented with participatory approaches, is rapidly increasing. Much use is being made of the Living Lab (LL) concept to co-create innovative NBS with stakeholders in a certain societal and environmental, real-life context. Most of the current research revolves around urban LLs, thus overlooking specificities of rural areas. Furthermore, the influence of the context itself on co-creation processes is insufficiently recognised, leaving challenges associated with co-creation such as stakeholder engagement unresolved. By exploring the co-creation processes in the LLs of the OPERANDUM project, this study identifies eighteen contextual factors shaping the co-creation processes of NBS within rural territories and provides associated recommendations. In addition, based on lessons learnt in the OPERANDUM project, we discuss the value of a relational place-based approach in LLs, suggesting that the co-creation process should be approached as a dynamic confluence of many interconnected contextual factors. We conclude that acknowledging the interconnections in co-creation in the real-life context of rural territories may increase the success and impact of the LL approach, and ultimately, the benefits of NBS.


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