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Grey and green in Europe: elderly living in urban areas

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - GRAGE (Grey and green in Europe: elderly living in urban areas)

Reporting period: 2016-12-01 to 2018-11-30

Starting from the challenge of the ageing population in Europe, GRAGE consortium has identified ideas and solutions to promote an active, harmonious and inclusive citizenship for elderly people living in urban context. Researchers have worked to understanding cultural, psychological and societal factors that influence elderly attitudes, values and behaviors within the cities. Innovative expertise from different scientific backgrounds (including legal, economic, humanities and engineering), belonging to several countries (from EU and Ukraine) were combined. Key areas of study included Human rights in age friendly cities (WP2), Buildings (WP3), Resource efficiency (WP4), Information and language technology (WP5), Europe as global actor (WP6) in ageing society industries.

GRAGE has pursued the following specific objectives:
1.Excellence in research, to enhance scientific knowledge and research/trasversal skills of participants
2.Impact to build lasting knowledge and cooperation networks, also in support of SMEs and EU policy-makers.
Main results reached in the scientific WPs are described below.
Researchers working on Human rights in age friendly cities investigated the interaction between rights and age friendly cities, studying how elderly human rights are protected in urban areas and how human rights law impacts on building, places and social environments. Particular attention was focused on the concept of the “right to the city”, in different member states and in Ukraine, in its double dimension: on the one hand, how to develop more inclusive urban environments in order to implement the rights of older persons; on the other hand, how vulnerable adults can contribute to the implementation of the right to the city, that is how older persons could contribute to environmental governance and to make their city more age-friendly. The results of the research showed that the protection of elderly human rights and the effectiveness of the right to the city include the access to digital information and communication technologies, but also the opportunity for older persons to contribute to the development of the digital space. The digital space may be a space of inclusiveness or division, democracy and transparent governance or opaque governance: the choice depends on human options and it is not totally left to an impartial technology.
WP 3 on Buildings analyzed some legislative, technical and economic aspects of green buildings within an urban context for elderly people. Several are the results achieved, in particular: i) development of guidelines and recommendation for the creation of a certification scheme for green buildings looking at the needs of elderly people; ii) comprehensive overview of the possible use of Green Procurement in both the planning and the construction of buildings and spaces for ageing citizens; iii) analysis of the opportunity of converting into cash the intrinsic market value of the home of residence for elderly people and iv) solutions to reduce the energy cost and the greenhouse gas emissions of houses inhabited by elderly people.
WP4 on Resource Efficiency investigated how food supply can contribute to an urban development which encompasses the necessity of managing natural resources in a sustainable way and the needs of an ageing society. Urban Agriculture (UA), in a multidisciplinary perspective, has been one of the key focus. The main achievements are: recognition and comparison of best practices on urban agriculture in countries involved in the consortium; dissemination of the role of UA; analysis of the main legal issues for the implementation of UA; creation of new planning models and recommendations for spatial design of UA areas.
In addition, researchers provided a taxonomy of initiatives developed by public and private organization in maintaining and promoting traditional food habits and local culinary practices. Finally, researchers delved into the topics of food waste and donation and the topic of right to food underlying the implications for elderly people.
The main goal of WP5 was to investigate the role that information and language technology could play in transforming cities into environments that support green and healthy lifestyles for the ageing population. To this end, researchers carried out a philosophical analysis of the ageing process which allowed to redefine the relationship between the human and the natural world as one of co-constitution and reciprocal sustenance and promotion, with the concept of care becoming central. In addition, researchers performed a social media analysis of Dutch elderly in Twitter to investigate where the elderly live, whether they are attached to their community, what is their relation to nature and to sustainability. Researchers showed that elderly do have an interest in environmental sustainability and in nature and they are strongly related to the place they live. Furthermore, they have an active local and international network in Twitter to broadcast their messages. Therefore, researchers claimed that the elderly can help re-establish the bond between human beings and the natural environment through social media.
WP 6 on Europe as a global actor in green and grey business has highlighted existing good practices and successful experience in Europe in the “green for grey” industry that could be considered as examples to promote trade e and investment in foreign countries and especially in China.
GRAGE has developed a good scientific knowledge base. All WPs have produced interdisciplinary research and performed a good stakeholder engagement. The following results were achieved:
1. Strengthen the potential of individuals, providing new skills and career perspectives.
Scientific knowledge and professional development were boosted by geographical, intersectoral, inter-and trans-disciplinary mobility (about 160 months of mobility were performed). Secondments had a good impact on knowledge background and personal skills.
2. Develop new and lasting research collaborations.
The transfer of knowledge among partners and stakeholders has been constant. A key role was played by the network activities involving consortium members, such as internal training events and scientific meetings; conferences and workshops.
GRAGE has boosted the network relations among partners. Participants from academic bodies committed to sign MoU to strengthen cooperation. Also, a new RISE proposal was successfully submitted by Ulster University involving UniMc and Militos (H2020-734560-Alice: AcceLerate Innovation in urban wastewater management for Climate change). Also, on 15th March 2018 the University of Macerata signed a cooperation agreement with the University of Utrecht for student and staff exchange.

Future potential impacts of GRAGE include:
increased awareness on the importance of “silver hair economy” in the light of the role that European SMEs can play in the global economy;
improved understanding of how the ICT and language technology can help better tackle the needs of elderly people and provide them with adequate solutions for a better inclusion in the cities;
improved understanding of the role of food practices and traditions, as well as urban agriculture initiative to increase the quality of life of elderly people in the local communities.