| 2021-2025

InnoFiNS: Implementation of innovative financing for nature-based solutions in Flemish cities


Flemish cities are expected to take a leading role in climate adaptation and mitigation strategies. At the core of these strategies are nature based solutions (NBS) by green, blue and hybrid urban infrastructures. NBS address multiple problems related to climate change in an integrated, sustainable way. Although investments in NBS infrastructures are considered a cost effective way to achieve future societal and environmental benefits, current public budgets in Flanders are insufficient. As a result, the gap between investments in and societal need for NBS is growing. In contrast to limited public budgets, there is an abundance of private capital seeking for investments. Yet, the potential to invest private capital in NBS is not fully exploited. NBS projects typically have sizeable upfront costs and diffuse and long-term societal benefits that are not easily captured in steady cash flows, making privately financed schemes often inappropriate. In order to attract private investments to NBS, new business models and alternative financing mechanisms are needed. 

In this project, we study the utilisation potential of innovative financing models in the Flemish context by developing real life business cases of NBS, using new instruments such as impact financing, value capturing and ICO-crowd funding. In order to develop a realistic and holistic interdisciplinary approach, this strategic research will study how new financial instruments impact planning and design, governance arrangements, valuation methods, legal institutions and instruments as well as social justice. The urban living lab approach will ensure continuous integrated assessment of the spatial, juridical, institutional, economic feasibility and social impact of the new financing business models, optimising the utilisation potential for the societal users.

Project team

  • Tom Coppens, Urban Development (University of Antwerp)
  • Wouter Van Dooren, Politics & Public Governance (University of Antwerp)
  • Tine Compernolle, Engineering Management (University of Antwerp)
  • Robby Houben, Business and Law (University of Antwerp)
  • Steven Van Garsse, Government and Law (University of Antwerp and Hasselt University)
  • Sebastien Lizin, Environmental Economics (Hasselt University)


  • FWO Strategic Basic Research project (SBO)

Project website