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Green Cities for Climate and Water Resilience, Sustainable Economic Growth, Healthy Citizens and Environments

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - GROW GREEN (Green Cities for Climate and Water Resilience, Sustainable Economic Growth, Healthy Citizens and Environments)

Reporting period: 2018-12-01 to 2020-05-31

GrowGreen is attempting to address the impact of climate change by providing evidence that NBS can provide an efficient and effective way to mitigate the impact of climate change and provide a replication framework that can help Cities globally to develop and implement NBS strategies.

The hypothesis for the GrowGreen project is that Cities that embed NBS into their infrastructure are more resilient to the impacts of climate change but are also happier, healthier, wealthier, and socially cohesive places to live. This hypothesis will be tested within 3 Front Runner Cities-Manchester, Valencia and Wroclaw and 3 Follower Cities- Modena, Brest and Zadar. The Chinese City of Wuhan are also a partner on the project providing learning transfer on the implementation of their Sponge Cities program, which is a national program to mainstream urban water management in order to mitigate the impact of flooding.

The overall objective of the project is to deliver systemic changes to the long-term planning, development, operation and management of these 6 Cities through the use of nature-based solutions (NBS), in order to deliver quantified improvements in climate and water resilience, social, environmental and economic performance.

The project will establish a replicable approach that will enable accelerated replication and delivery of NBS strategies in Cities around the world.
GrowGreen has had two clear foci during its first 36 months. Firstly, internally-focused to ensure robust project set-up, the design and construction of the demonstration projects and the associated monitoring and evaluation of impact, and clear definition of cities’ stakeholders and their needs for long-term NBS strategy development and implementation. And secondly, an external focus to ensure that GrowGreen will have a strategic impact outside the immediate partners and boundaries of the project and that the project will make a genuine and measurable contribution to the global NBS and city-greening agenda up to 2022 and beyond

The Demonstration Projects in the three Frontrunner cities are now mainly completed :
-Manchester: the green infrastructure masterplan for West Gorton has been constructed with a new community park at its heart This has been designed with flood management as one of the main design drivers and includes a number of Sustainable Urban Drainage features.

-Valencia: several projects have been designed in Benicalap. Two, a vertical eco-system which will desalinate water for re use, and a green roof to mitigate the impact of heat stress, are already completed. The other measures, a small sustainable forest with species selected specifically to maximise carbon sequestration, a green-blue corridor which includes new street tree and shrub planting, and actions to enhance community engagement such as a new bio diversity app and a community food growing project, will be completed in the next reporting period

-Wroclaw: Work is now complete on several courtyards within residential tenement blocks in Olbin. The new green courtyards have created attractive new communal green spaces whilst also incorporating NBS in to the designs. Extensive community consultation was been carried out with proactive citizen engagement in the design.

A GrowGreen delegation visited Wuhan in November 2018 to study the work carried out as part of the Sponge Cities programme. Around 288 demonstration projects have been completed and Wuhan will provide a useful living laboratory for the GrowGreen project.

Detailed monitoring and evaluation plans have been developed by Manchester, Valencia and Wroclaw covering a range of climatic, environmental and social indicators. These have been aligned with each other where possible and have been shared with other EU projects. “Pre greening” baseline data has been collected in the demonstration sites, and sensors, where applicable, have been installed.

The GrowGreen guidance framework that is being developed in order to help cities to develop their NBS strategies ‘The Green Cities Framework’ (GCF) was outlined in the original project proposal. It is being developed further based on a more detailed understanding of the Cities’ needs. Modules include stakeholder engagement, spatial planning and design, business models and finance and monitoring and impact assessment. This structure is being used by cities as they develop their NBS strategies, and by partners as they develop a series of training modules; some generic, and some bespoke to specific partners.
The Demonstration projects in Manchester, Valencia and Wroclaw are currently being monitored and analysed to provide data on the ability of NBS to address urban flood risk, heat stress, and environmental, social and economic challenges. GrowGreen is working with cities to establish state-of-the-art smart city data and monitoring systems that can drive the development of new policy, services and businesses and is also contributing to the improved knowledge at EU level for inclusion in the EU Framework for NBS sharing information and results with other EU projects and partners.

GrowGreen has produced an easy-to-use replicable approach to support the development and implementation of NBS strategies in cities and deliver a wider set of social, environmental and economic benefits. This framework will also support a‘Replication Cities’ to develop strategies. Governance and policy frameworks are being analysed in the cities to identify the urban challenges, the potential for implementing NBS, and the level of support and guidance required to enable viable city NBS strategies to be developed.
Through discussions around the Green Cities Framework between Manchester City Council and Tecnalia, common points, complementarities and room for articulation between existing 2 approaches to valuing NbS have been identified: the ‘Benefits Wheel’ applied in Manchester and the ‘Adaptation Pathwa’y approach applied in Bilbao (amongst others).
We see that there is a possibility of delivering a new proposal - integrating the Benefits Wheel and Adaptation Pathway methodologies with a double aim:
1. To inform the local development framework with evidence based on estimated benefits related to different pathways of NBS deployment- improvement of functionality by investment
2. To define anchoring mechanisms for those pathways, within the Local Urban Plan. This is important, as ‘anchoring’ to us means finding a way to secure pathways into NbS development into planning instruments and public policy, which would take it beyond simply ‘mainstreaming’.
Manchester will be used as a pilot amongst the GG FR cities to apply this new approach.
In terms of construction and financing of NbS, preliminary market analysis has been undertaken in Manchester, Valencia and Wroclaw to get insights into the current functioning of the NBS market, the market failures preventing optimal market functioning and the future potential of the NBS market (in 2050), both in their regions and in the EU as a whole. First hand experiences from the local procurement and installation processes will supplement these findings.
A screening innovation tool is being designed in collaboration with the CLEVER cities project in which Tecnalia is also participating-.
Valencia Benicalap demonstration area BEFORE
WRO - completed courtyard
Paris Board meeting / Training session Jan 2020
WRO - completed green street
MAN - completed park - boardwalk over dry pond
Manchester West Gorton Photograph of Demonstration Site Area BEFORE
WRO Gen Assembly 2019
VAL - completed Green Roof
VAL - completed green wall
MAN - completed park - drainage rill
Wroclaw Olbin courtyard BEFORE