How to co-create NBS-filled Healthy Corridors in cities across Europe in the midst of a global health crisis the societal, economic and environmental consequences of which are likely to be felt for years if not decades to come, that is the challenge faced by the URBiNAT today.
It’s a challenge none of us, not even our most prescient risk planners, could have anticipated at the outset. Yet here we are, just over two years into our project. Many milestones have already been achieved and scores of citizens have been engaged in multiple co-planning events. Consortium partners are as focused as ever on our health-related and broader mission to bring about greater physical, mental and social well-being in the districts covered by the project. But we are very much aware that the seriousness of the pandemic may require certain adjustments to be made.
It's good to take this opportunity to recall some of the achievements of the first two years of the project, a phase during which we have been sharing, testing and learning together, from Porto, Nantes, and Sofia, through Brussels, Høje-Taastrup, Nova Gorica and Siena, and around the world from Brazil, China, Iran, Oman and Japan. While in the Frontrunner cities we have had teams running regular workshops to engage citizens and local stakeholders, setting up a living lab in each city, in the Follower cities, other teams have been working on the methodology and implementing similar steps.
All the while we have had consortium partners taking part in international conferences, as others were prototyping and testing digital tools, and our scientific partners have been working on the compilation of the URBiNAT NBS Catalogue and the preparation of Local Diagnostic reports - the first all-important phase in the process of co-creating a Healthy Corridor for each URBiNAT city. The results of all this work can be accessed via our project website (www.urbinat.eu).
As this newsletter goes out Porto, Nantes and Sofia have restarted workshops and participatory activities with citizens and stakeholders to co-design their NBS - although they have had to rethink participation and adapt to the new circumstances of interaction in public spaces with imposed physical distancing (how to do so while still aiming to enhance social cohesion). This will pave the way to the co-implementation of their Healthy Corridors in 2021. Meanwhile, in Hoje Taastrup, Brussels, Siena and Nova Gorica, teams are kick-starting participatory processes and planning the co-diagnostic phase of their intervention areas.
Going forward we will continue building together, as a wider Community of Practice, together with our Observer cities, our sister H2020 projects and all colleagues and initiatives that are working towards advancing NBS for sustainable and more resilient communities. An ambition which seems more important than ever!