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

Reporting period: 2019-12-01 to 2021-08-31

URBiNAT is a research in action project that focuses on the urban regeneration of social housing neighbourhoods through the co-creation of Healthy Corridors, in the form of a cluster of environmental and social NBS. In order to face social and environmental challenges, the Healthy Corridors process engages local citizens and stakeholders in the co-creation of NBS in accordance with the three URBiNAT objectives:
1) to promote social cohesion through the activation of Living Labs and the engagement of a Community of Practice, by challenging citizens and stakeholders to identify their needs, together designing innovative solutions;
2) to achieve new models of urban regeneration through the creation of inclusive and innovative public space, by adapting the Healthy Corridor and the NBS catalogue to the local culture of each city;
3) to monitor the healthy corridor, for which purpose an observatory is being created; to disseminate the knowledge produced via a website organising and presenting the concepts, methods, activities and results through posts, videos and papers; to replicate the URBiNAT Healthy Corridor, for which a business model is being developed.
Over the past three years, URBiNAT has achieved all the results that were defined in accordance with the above mentioned three objectives. Nevertheless, due to the impact of COVID19, several activities and related deliverables were delayed by 6 months. Some methodologies were revised to enable to face new and unforeseen challenges such as adapting activities to online format.

Living Labs and the Local Diagnostic

Activation of the URBiNAT Living Labs in Frontrunner and Follower cities was achieved by means of activities related to local diagnostics for collecting data through a participatory process (D2.1 and D2.6). Local task forces were activated, engaging several actors playing different roles and creating a strong interaction between groups as well as new synergies with a reach beyond URBiNAT.

Community of Practice
The structure and mechanisms propelling the CoP were developed in D2.3. A key feature is the interrelated exchanges occurring at four levels, each marked by their respective action and learning processes: 1) the Consortium, including 167 active members; 2) In-City, including around 1,000 people in the Frontrunner cities and some 500 in the Follower and Observer cities; 3) Between-Cities, comprising the Frontrunner vs. Follower and Observer city dynamics, and 4) the Wider World, embracing a range of constituents, stakeholders and mechanisms (URBiNAT, 2020a).
Digital enablers
ZOOM, MIRO white board and Mentimeter were used, particularly since the onset of COVID-19. Work on the digital enablers has resulted in the selection of two applications based on consultations within the cities: Circular Cites Café and My Edible Neighbourhood. A specific app for co-design by citizens, Superbarrio, has already been applied in Nantes. A digital enabler – a co-creation digital toolkit - is being developed by taskforce 6, and coordinated by URBiNAT.

Activation of Stakeholders Advisory Board in Frontrunners
The stakeholders advisory boards (SAB) aim to improve the level of understanding and commitment among municipalities, citizens and stakeholders by encouraging formal commitments from participating citizens, politicians, staff, researchers and practitioners. The three Frontrunner cities already follow this strategy and activated their stakeholder advisory boards at the end of the co-design phase, in June 2021.

Co-Design stage in Frontrunners (Online and in-person)
Despite COVID 19, the three cities were able to co-create a new NBS catalogue to co-develop a global strategy for the Healthy Corridor and to set up an urban plan to be built in the intervention area. New NBS have been organized according to the corresponding municipal departments in order to facilitate implementation and management.

The solidarity economy as a means of enhancing the impact of NBS

The solidarity economy (SE) in URBiNAT is being directly linked to inclusive urban regeneration by creating, in its economically vulnerable territories, new opportunities for accessing economic resources through associated work, solidarity finance modalities, solidarity exchange practices or new practices of consumption based on fairness and justice. The experience of URBiNAT on the SE fosters the political capacity of the community and new forms of sociability and urbanity.

The social sciences and humanities approach as part of HC evaluation

In the co-monitoring phase, a framework for social research has been tested to verify whether and how sustainable solutions can generate new values for nature and promote the presence of more diverse and plural voices. Several methods are used to better evaluate the changes that occur in the experiences, practices, and production of pre-existing space, as well as gender gaps in ecological and sustainable attitudes and practices.

The Observatory, and monitoring and evaluation plan

The observatory is already active through a digital platform for storing, organising, and facilitating the access, by researchers, to data collected in each city. The monitoring and evaluation plan aims to define the impact of the Healthy Corridor in terms of health and environment and economy and governance. Indicators are being outlined within the framework of protocols and methodologies. Cities will be asked to support the collection of data until the end of the project, as well as in the near future (post-project).

European Commission Taskforces

URBiNAT is contributing to the EC strategy of creating a dialogue between the 17 NBS funded projects in order to enable the sharing of knowledge and development of common outputs, in the form of platforms, policy briefs, books and conferences. URBiNAT participates in Taskforces 1 - Data management and repository, 2 - Impact assessment of NBS, 3 - Governance, business and finance, 4 - Communication, and 5 - Hydro meteorological risk; and coordinates Taskforce 6 - Co-creation of NBS.
At this point, it can be stated that citizens are actively contributing to the process of urban planning of the URBiNAT intervention areas. Furthermore, the spaces for participation are, to some extent, leveraging the norms, values and practices in a more participative direction. The degree of participation, in some cases, has reached levels of sustainability in which the participating citizens propose actions and agendas beyond the scope of action of the project. Its self-organization has demonstrated the potential for greater long-term sustainability. The committees have already demonstrated their potential and ability to impact the local context and become a permanent mechanism in the future. Additionally, in terms of the monitoring process, URBiNAT now has more empirical evidence with which to scrutinize what really happens within the participatory process and what the particularities of social urban space surrounding the HC actually are.

Along with other participatory methodologies and approaches, URBiNAT aims to impact the process of doing urban planning for inclusive regeneration. The ambition is to have a real impact on the local participatory culture, deepening and reimagining the possibilities of citizen inclusiveness and participation in the definition of the direction given to interventions of urban regeneration.
CoP-URBiNAT