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

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - GROW GREEN (Green Cities for Climate and Water Resilience, Sustainable Economic Growth, Healthy Citizens and Environments)

Reporting period: 2017-06-01 to 2018-11-30

Cities all over the world are suffering from the effects of climate change from flooding to heat stress. However, working in complex resource constrained environments means they have to achieve more with less resources and deliver genuine sustainable development that realises a broad range of social, economic and environmental objectives.
GrowGreen is attempting to address this problem by providing evidence that Nature Based Solutions (NBS) can provide an efficient and effective way to mitigate the impact of climate change and provide a tried and tested 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 programme, which is a national programme to mainstream urban water management in order 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, in combination with development of the global NBS market, development of the global policy framework, and targeted communication and capacity building for cities, businesses and citizens, will enable accelerated replication and delivery of NBS strategies in Cities around the world.
GrowGreen has had two clear foci during its first 18 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

Designs have now been developed for the demonstration projects in the 3 Front Runner Cities:

-Manchester: a community park with integrated NBS has been designed in West Gorton. 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. These include a vertical eco-system which will desalinate water for re use, a small sustainable forest with species selected specifically to maximise carbon sequestration, a green-blue corridor which includes new street tree and shrub planting, green roofs to mitigate the impact of heat stress and actions to enhance community engagement such as a new bio diversity app and a community food growing project.

-Wroclaw: several courtyards have been designed within residential tenement blocks in Olbin. The new green courtyards will create attractive new communal green spaces whilst also incorporating NBS in to the designs. Extensive community consultation has 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 started to be collected in the demonstration sites. Work has also started on updating/development of NBS strategies in the cities.

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.
Demonstration projects are being delivered in Manchester (UK), Valencia (Spain) and Wroclaw (Poland) representing cities with a diverse set of climatic, governance, political, social, environmental and financial conditions. A citizen driven, bottom up approach has been used to develop NBS designs in each of the demonstration projects. A novel approach for evaluating innovation of process and product is being carried out.

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 is working on a first proposal to establish an easy-to-use replicable approach to support the development and implementation of NBS strategies in cities so that NBS can provide a cost-effective, sustainable means of increasing urban climate and water resilience, and deliver a wider set of social, environmental and economic benefits that are aligned with existing city priorities.
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.
Preliminary market analysis in Manchester, Valencia and Wroclaw is being undertaken 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.
Valencia Benicalap demonstration area
Manchester West Gorton Photograph of Demonstration Site Area
Valencia Benicalap historic building
Wroclaw Olbin courtyard