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URBiNAT - Healthy corridors as drivers of social housing neighbourhoods for the co-creation of social, environmental and marketable NBS

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - URBiNAT (URBiNAT - Healthy corridors as drivers of social housing neighbourhoods for the co-creation of social, environmental and marketable NBS)

Reporting period: 2018-06-01 to 2019-11-30

URBiNAT [Urban Inclusive and Innovative Nature] is a project that focuses on the urban regeneration of social housing neighbourhoods through the co-creation of a Healthy Corridor.

Seven European Cities have joined the URBiNAT consortium to activate a Living Lab and to build up a Community of Practice, in which municipalities, universities, companies and citizens work together. From Western to Eastern Europe, the cities of Porto, Nantes and Sofia are acting as ‘front runners’ based on their innovative use of public space through nature-based solutions (NBS). From South to North, the cities of Siena, Nova Gorica, Brussels and Høje-Taastrup are sharing their knowledge and replicating URBiNAT concepts and methodologies, acting as ‘followers’.

To this end, URBiNAT has three major objectives corresponding to three levels of action:
1) at the local level, to promote social cohesion through the activation of a Living Lab and engagement of a Community of Practice. Citizens and stakeholders are challenged to identify their needs and design together with URBiNAT team innovative solutions in dialogue with the other cities;
2) at a transversal level, to achieve new models of urban regeneration through the creation of innovative public space. The Healthy Corridor concept and the NBS catalogue are not only green but also social creating benefits for the citizens wellbeing;
3) widespread, with the monitoring, dissemination and market replication of the knowledge produced and demonstrated in each city, through the website and the observatory digital platform.
The first actions dealt with the setting up of the coordination activities of WP1 to ensure the functioning of the project and its capacity to monitor and respond to the scientific and ethical challenges involved. The seven deliverables of WP1, submitted in the first year, were related to the monitoring of the project, ethical issues, management procedures, theoretical and methodological foundations, data management, dissemination and communication. This was important for the workflow of the 140 people involved in the project and registered on the Basecamp project management tool.

At the very beginning, each frontrunner city began to activate the Living Labs, in order to understand the needs and challenges of the intervention area. The Local Diagnostic (task 2.1) was designed to answer a set of indicators organized into three dimensions: territorial, social and economic. These indicators are meant to establish the baseline for the implementation of the Healthy Corridor, first by using existing data (stage 1), and secondly with new data (stage 2) collected via a combination of methods based on citizens perceptions and way of using the intervention area - survey on health and well-being, behavioural mapping, territorial mapping, territorial analysis, face-to-face interviews and a set of participatory activities.

In articulation with the Living Labs, the citizens engagement process (WP3) started with the mapping of the local participatory culture of each city, and with the design of the community driven process, which resulted in two deliverables already submitted (D3.1 and D3.2). Interviews and workshops were held to map the actors, champions, institutions and associations to develop participatory activities in the area of intervention, in a process of co-creation divided into four main stages: co-diagnostic, co-design, co-implementation, co-monitoring. URBiNAT concluded the co-diagnostic in the front-runner cities.

The Healthy Corridor concept and strategy is based on the clustering of nature-based solutions (NBS) that will be selected and tailored, working together with citizens, in the co-design activities. Over the last 18 months, activities have been focused on the revision of the NBS catalogue by integrating new NBS, developing NBS forms and protocols, and designing the tools to support the co-selection process (a digital tool and an exhibition). The URBiNAT NBS catalogue further developed the understanding of the concept of NBS, including the social and economic dimension by means of Participatory NBS and the Social and Solidarity Economy NBS.

Indicators suitable for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of NBS are being developed within the framework of a wider task force working together with the sister projects, Task Force 2 coordinated by the European Commission. An observatory platform was designed and is now under construction (D5.1) to analyse and visualise the data collected.

This observatory will be integrated in the website, that will present the project and its activities and a window on each city. A variety of media outlets have been used for dissemination in order to reach a wide section of the public, from the scientific community to those in the URBiNAT neighbourhoods, with 49 presentations in international conferences.

The research on the business impact of implementing NBS is already underway with the mapping of green jobs and companies in the front runner cities, through direct interviews.

URBiNAT improved the relations with the non-European partners, with the active engagement of Khorramabad as observer and connections with other cities and institutions in China (Macau and Hefei) and in Brazil (Curitiba and Natal) through workshops.
URBiNAT aims to build up concepts, methods and tools that will have impact on the way citizens can contribute to improve the quality of life in their neighbourhoods, namely with three results.

An inclusive urban regeneration that goes beyond the usual practice of city planning by working together with municipalities and local partners and stakeholders, and involving citizens at all stages of the co-creation process. One of the challenges is the implementation of a municipal roadmap to empower the community in an urban regeneration with (not for) the citizens, and increase the democratic governance of the cities.

An active citizenship both within and between cities. URBiNAT is intensifying the quality of participation by addressing the specific needs of local citizens, specifically vulnerable groups such as women, children, older adults and citizens of low socio-economic status. URBiNAT is promoting partnership with individuals, champions, institutions and associations to create a network of activities that goes beyond physical intervention, which we are calling the ‘immaterial’ Healthy Corridor. This result will promote social cohesion in the neighbourhoods and among the URBiNAT Community of Practice, as a platform of sharing.

A Healthy Corridor is more than a green infrastructure that improves the quality of the environment and helps mitigate climate risks. The Healthy Corridor is also a social and cultural infrastructure co-created with citizens and stakeholders for the purpose of promoting the well-being of the community and impacting positively on health. In this sense, URBiNAT has expanded the concept of NBS to integrate participatory solutions as well as those related to social and solidarity economy impacting on a healthy way of life.