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OPEn-air laboRAtories for Nature baseD solUtions to Manage environmental risks

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - OPERANDUM (OPEn-air laboRAtories for Nature baseD solUtions to Manage environmental risks)

Reporting period: 2018-07-01 to 2019-12-31

Severe hydro-meteorological phenomena are having a high impact in European territories and are of global concern. The science behind these phenomena is complex and advancement in knowledge proceeds with progress in data acquisition and forecasting useful for real-scenario interventions. The employment of nature-based solutions (NBS) to mitigate the impact of hydro-meteorological phenomena is not adequately demonstrated, still uncoordinated at the European level, therefore not reaching full potential. Actions to achieve highest NBS impact requires strategies to enhance societal acceptance, policy strengthening while demonstrating advantages for market development.
The objective of OPERANDUM is to reduce hydro-meteorological risks in European territories through co-designed, co-developed, deployed, tested and demonstrated innovative green and blue/grey/hybrid NBS, and push business exploitation. It aims provision of science-evidence for the usability of NBS, best practices for their design based on participatory processes. It foresees a multiple level of stakeholders engagement from the local community up to the international level to leverage widest possible NBS acceptance to promote its diffusion as a good practice. It establishes the framework for the strengthening of NBS-based policies according to local legislation and promotes technology and innovation in NBS to create a European leadership.
OPERANDUM is based on open-air laboratories (OALs), a fairly new concept that expands the Living Labs to a wider vision for natural and rural areas. In OALs novel NBS in seven European countries and three in China and Australia are implemented to address specific risks and their effectiveness, assessed through innovative monitoring systems and cutting-edge numerical modelling approaches. OPERANDUM realizes a multi-dimensional open and flexible platform enabling stakeholders and end users to improve knowledge in NBS to mitigate climate change as well as ways to promote and exploit the improved/preserved environment while increasing business opportunities.
Within the first 18 months of the project OPERANDUM has completed 26 Deliverables and reached 5 Milestones. Several results were achieved in all components of the projects namely by advancing our understanding concerning the efficacy of NBS against hydro-meteorological risks. Over 20 types of NBS has been co-designed and co-developed against the major hazards considered in OPERANDUM: river flooding, droughts, landslides, costal erosion, salt intrusion, storm surge, nutrients overloads. Most of these NBS are associated to an advancement in technology such as the construction of a vegetated dune with sensor-embedded textiles for structural monitoring in a coastal environment which has been patented. In addition, many other NBS are currently being implemented after careful co-design with relevant stakeholders. The NBS in OPERANDUM includes vegetation on sandy backdrops, drainage systems to improve hillslope hydrology, vegetated drainage systems for improving slope stress conditions, herbaceous perennial deep rooting plants as a coverage of embankments, coble-filled and vegetated gabion baskets as sea defence, smart materials for green roof to enable multiple benefits, Smart hub for green roof sensors with embedded sensors for monitoring performances, Interactive platform to enable co-monitoring activities with local community, Development of water protection structures (constructed wetlands, overland flow area, peak flow control, sedimentation ponds and pits, submerged weirs, breaks in cleaning) and forest management methods (continuous cover forestry, riparian buffer zones). A complex system of monitoring as been put in place in 10 countries where the NBS are being implemented. Also, multi-scale modelling has been implemented to evaluate after comparison with monitored data to ensure a scientific-sound methodology for replication and upscaling. Both monitoring and modelling work is integrated in a complex structure where NBS is evaluated against co-benefits in the area of risk reduction, acceptance, business uptake. All has been evaluated through a set of indicators covering the all areas of socio-economic, health, legislation and cultural dimensions. Finally, within the first 18 months of OPERANDUM it has been realized the original design, implementation and maintenance of a multi-dimensional, open and flexible platform, namely the OPERANDUM Geospatial Information Knowledge Platform (GeoIKP). The goal of the platform is to enable stakeholders and end-users to improve their knowledge of nature-based solutions in reducing hydro-meteorological risk under current and future climate scenarios. The currently deployed version of GeoIKP consists of three main modules: webGIS, NBS crowdsourcing, and Data Management Platform (DMP). The GeoIKP is being built upon the latest scientific achievements of OPERANDUM and relies on the state-of-the-art analysis tools and the most advanced technologies currently available in the market.
Within the first 18 months of the project, OPERANDUM co-designed and co-developed many new NBS solutions. Several are the results beyond the state of art such as a thorough analysis has been performed to examine the benefits of NBS in tackling hydrometeorological hazards. The analysis also included the identification of barriers that hinder the wider uptake of NBS and presents approaches to overcome these social and political barriers. Key findings were published in a top-ranked journal (Debele et al., 2019). A systematic literature review leading to the to set up the methodology for describing the hydrometeorological risks in OALs. Specifically, the risks considered were floods, drought, landslide, nutrient and sediment loading, coastal erosion and storm surge. Their impacts on the OALs were presented, and the NBS already implemented, or suitable for implementation within OPERANDUM, were discussed, focusing on possible barriers, knowledge gaps and critical issues that could prevent their implementation in OALs. The key findings of these activities have been published in Sahani et al. (2019). An unprecedented and detailed syntheses of hydro-meteorological forcing of hazards in each OAL. These results include extreme hydro-meteorological events for each OAL being identified and classified using a variety of data and a 30-years climatic assessment that was developed using re-analysis (ERA-5) and hydro-meteorological satellite data products. Also, a systematic literature review conducted by all relevant partners to identify existing vulnerability and risk assessment approaches, methods and tools linked to NBS and hydro-meteorological hazards.
Several have been the workshops where results of OPERANDUM have been shared to a large audience. A targeted workshop focused on “Tailoring OPERANDUM stakeholders engagement strategy and related indicators” was organized and hosted by UNESCO in Paris (25-27 Feb. 2019). A major awareness event took place on 27 February 2019 at UNESCO HQ in Paris, France. It consisted of two meetings: (1) an expert meeting on “Implementation of Large-Scale Demonstration Projects for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Adaptation”, which enabled to identify common issues related to socio-economical, modelling, risk assessment and policy indicators among several sister EU projects. The impact of the project has been evaluated through main social channels.
OPERANDUM 2019 meeting Delphi
OPERANDUM Stakeholders
OPERANDUM GeoIKP
OPERANDUM NBS scheme
OPERANDUM Indicators
OPERANDUM OALs and project partners
OPERANDUM kick-off meeting