Visionary Nature-based Actions for Health,
Well-being and Resilience in Cities


In an increasingly urbanised world, cities face several challenges and threats and struggle to propose credible urban futures and new opportunities for their citizens. VARCITIES is an ambitious project that puts the citizens and the “human communities” at the centre of future cities’ vision, in the belief that future cities should become fully human-centred.

The project officially started in September 2020 and it will last until February 2025. The Consortium is composed of 25 partners under the lead of Telecommunication System Institute (TSI). Seven Pilot Cities will test and implement a series of innovative nature-based actions.


The vision of VARCITIES is to implement real, visionary ideas and add value by establishing sustainable models for increasing the health and well-being of citizens: women, children, young people, middle aged, and the elderly, who are exposed to diverse climatic conditions and challenges in and around Europe. VARCITIES sets the ambitious target to advance innovation across different urban scales by fully exploiting nature-based solutions from a digital, social and cultural perspective. Public spaces are envisioned as people-centered areas that support creativity, inclusivity, health, and happiness for the citizens.



The specific objectives of the project are:

  • Design visionary nature-based solutions which contribute to the shaping of future cities and the wellbeing of citizens in seven European cities.
  • Monitor and assess the sustainability and the impact of interventions through advances KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) for health and well-being.
  • Improve the sustainable transition to smart and future cities by creating a framework of locally adapted GBF (Governance, Business, Financing) models.
  • Include various stakeholders in the co-design process and inspire sustainable and resilient future smart cities.
  • Achieve knowledge exchange, maximum EU investments, and advancement beyond the state of art through clustering with other European initiatives and platforms.
  • Transfer, upscale and sustain best practices from VARCITIES through the development of a Healthy Cities Helix.
Future-city Visions
Human Centred
Green Public Spaces
Smart & Resilient

Expected Impacts
& Results

Our approach prioritises an integrative, trans-disciplinary focus that considers the entire ecosystem in its complexity, including all members of society. We also recognise the necessity for nature-based approaches to be inevitably individual and context specific. For this reason, each Pilot City is directly informed by the unique and respective needs of the local societythe specific contextual evolution and the strategic municipal policies.  

VARCITIES actions aim to deliver a multitude of interventions, methods and innovative practices based on an extendable platform, measurement framework, and methodology, supported by customisable and extendable plugin solutions. Our nature-based solutions interventions aim at becoming an underlying customisable fabric of an entire ecosystem of fully connected intelligent sensors and devices, capable of delivering several co-benefits, transforming the daily lives of European citizens. 

We expect to reach the following impact: 

  • High quality and multifunctional public spaces, converted into safe, inclusive and accessible places to ensure citizens’ Health and well-being.
  • Co-design and participatory planning and governance in Pilot Cities and follower cities with digital, social and cultural dimension.
  • Network with the Healthy Cities Helix and Ambassadors for gender dimensions.
  • Innovative monitoring and KPIs.​
  • Our SMEs will support the “capitalisation of over 30 years of investment in transnational EU research and innovation on sustainable urban development”. ​
  • New business opportunities!

Project timeline


VARCITIES is a project funded by the European Union Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme. Telecommunication Systems Institute (part of Technical University of Crete) leads the consortium together with 23 other partners. These include also the seven municipalities which are the Pilot Cities of the project.

View all Partners


VARCITIES will establish networks and collaborations with others similar projects and initiatives. Twin Projects (financed under the same H2020 call of VARCITIES) are: IN-HABIT, GO GREEN ROUTES, euPOLIS.

Download VARCITIES infocard