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productive Green Infrastructure for post-industrial urban regeneration

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - proGIreg (productive Green Infrastructure for post-industrial urban regeneration)

Reporting period: 2019-12-01 to 2021-05-31

In proGIreg, four front-runner cities (FRC) (Dortmund DE; Turin IT; Zagreb HR; Ningbo CN) create Living Labs (LLs) facing the challenge of post-industrial regeneration. These areas suffer from social and economic disadvantages, inequality and related crime and security problems. They lack quality greenspaces, have a negative impact on human health and wellbeing and are more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The LLs are implementing Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) which are citizen-owned and co-developed by state, market and civil society stakeholders. Innovation takes place on the technical level through the NBS deployments, on the social level through co-designing, co-creating and co-implementing NBS and on the economic level through combining NBS with business models. Four follower cities (Cascais PT, Cluj-Napoca RO, Piraeus GR, Zenica BA) are co-steering the research process to assure replicability and adaptability to new contexts. The NBS being tested i.a. include: regenerating soils with biotic compounds, creating community-based urban agriculture and aquaponics and making green corridors accessible. Scientific assessment and monitoring results are made available on the EU NBS platform OPPLA and contribute to the European reference framework for NBS, e.g. the recently published NBS benefit assessment handbook for practitioners. Global impact will be achieved by a MOOC on NBS for urban regeneration distributed via edX, the most renowned MOOCs platform worldwide. Replication events will be organized by the FRC and the partner ICLEI.
The work during the first reporting period has laid the foundation for a successful project implementation. Team-building has been fostered through a kick-off meeting in Aachen, a kick-off conference in Dortmund and a cities workshop in Cluj-Napoca. All work packages (WPs) have established the methodologies for fulfilling theirs tasks and objectives throughout the project duration.
WP 2 has carried out the co-design processes. Based on the quad helix model, local partnerships including government, universities, citizen organisations and enterprises have been established and developed LL vision maps representing the planned transformation. WP 3 has established the methodology for an efficient implementation process. To prepare the urban planning for NBS in the follower cities, the spatial analysis has also been carried out in there.
WP 4 has established the assessment methodology for NBS benefits. Ten assessment tools have been defined to measure the impact within the four assessment domains: socio-cultural inclusiveness, human health and wellbeing, ecological and environmental restoration and economic and labour market benefits. Data for a baseline assessment on the level of the FRC, the LL and the intervention sites has been collected.

The second reporting period was mainly devoted to starting the implementation of NBS in the LLs. This continues to be done in a co-creative way by the local partners. Being managed in WP 3, this process leads to the identification of technical and non-technical barriers which are collected and assessed in WP 5. The LL character of the project becomes apparent in different implementation barriers encountered which relate to the post-industrial areas used for NBS and the regulative frame. Several NBS have been adapted to the local conditions and unforeseen risks like an earthquake event in Zagreb. This co-creative process has also led to improvements in NBS setup, e.g. through the introduction of a therapeutic garden in proGIreg’s NBS portfolio. WP 4 has adapted the benefit assessment methods to these developments and carried out continuous data collection. The post-implementation data collection campaign is going to take place in reporting period 3. Open access to research data is granted via an online platform for storage and exchange of research data.
WP 2 has started the elaboration of urban plans for NBS replication in FC.

A number of supporting tasks guarantees that the project will be carried out responsibly and will impact research and practise. WP 6 implements the project’s communication and dissemination plan and Intellectual Property Rights management. The projects’ mid-term conference was held as a combination of several online events in 2020 and 2021.
In case of new ethical questions arising from the research process the experts from the external ethics board have been proactively involved to inform the solutions proposed by the consortium.
The co-design experience in the proGIreg FRC has been translated into co-design guidelines for NBS in 2020. These guidelines for stakeholder engagement allow to replicate co-creation processes which anchor investments of European funds into NBS within local communities. They will create a leverage effect on EU funding schemes through better adaptation to local needs.
For implemented NBS the guidelines “Evaluating the impact of Nature-based Solutions: a handbook for practitioners” which include major contributions from proGIreg partners and the proGIreg NBS benefit assessment methodology will allow to demonstrate the effects and benefits of NBS all over Europe.
In reporting period 2, the first NBS have been implemented and show the first impacts on the local level and inside the project. Impact is created in the following fields and is expected to increase throughout the project lifetime and beyond:
1) A community of practice in NBS is being forged through networking between FRC and FC with the Living Lab Lounge and will be extended beyond the consortium with the upcoming replication events. Scientific evidence will increase awareness of the potential of NBS. The business model catalogue will ensure that the NBS are market-ready and can be adapted to local policy goals.
2) citizen ownership: A new understanding of GI as an urban common resource is at the core of proGIreg. The transdisciplinary LLs and their new participatory processes show first impact in this field. Actors from state, market and civil society will receive advice on how to join forces for NBS.
3) global market opportunities: The MOOC training to be started in late 2021 will have a global outreach and will address stakeholders who engage in NBS implementation as well as representatives from academia and vocational education.
4) EU policies: The results of proGIreg will help to implement EU programmes and strategies:
- the EU Climate Change Adaptation Strategy will be addressed through the reduction of heat island effects and the attenuation of heat stress through the creation of greenspaces;
- the COP21 Paris Agreement will be supported by NBS for augmented carbon storage in urban soils;
- the EU Environment Action Programme will profit from the improved knowledge base on NBS, the guidelines for investing in NBS business models and through the creation of new circular economies;
- the EU Biodiversity Strategy will be supported through creating new habitats and enhancing biodiversity in urban environments.
5) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): Finding new ways to the implementation of SDG 11, especially the targets 11.6 11.7 11.a and 11.b is the most important motivation for the project.
Besides contributing to SDG 11, NBS business models will be a unique combination of SDGs 1 and 10: they will contribute to environmental justice by improving the living conditions in deprived urban areas (SDG 10) and open routes out of poverty.
NBS 8 Turin: Butterfly monitoring activities involving youngsters and fragile people
NBS5 Turin: indoor green wall in via Torrazza school
NBS3 Zagreb: Therapeutic garden
NBS7 Ningbo: Long-term observation of water quality provides data for environmental compensation
NBS3 Dortmund: Food forest implementation at St. Urbanus
NBS3 Ningbo: Green lake shore. Planting of aquatic plants in Moon Lake completed and in maintenance
Ningbo: First co-design workshop in Ningbo Tianhe Aquatic Ecosystems Engineering Co., Ltd.
NBS3 Dortmund: raised urban gardening beds at St. Urbanus
NBS3 Zagreb: Using the therapeutic garden
NBS 3 Turin: School garden in box. Activities with pupils and teachers have restarted in late spring
NBS5 Turin: outdoor green wall at homeless shelter
NBS6 Dortmund: green cooridor between Emscher river and Deusenberg landfill to be opened
NBS3 Zagreb: therapeutic garden before completion
NBS3 Zagreb: modernization of urban gardens
NBS4&8 Dortmund: The selected aquaponics site is also pollinator friendly