17.04.2019.

ENABLE annual meeting and city workshop: Unlocking the full potential of green and blue spaces

March 2019, 9:00- 13:00 – Łódź, Poland
The ENABLE project partners gathered for their annual meeting in Poland for an in-depth exchange on the progress in studying how green and blue infrastructure can be designed and implemented to best deliver numerous social and environmental benefits, such as social inclusion, health and human wellbeing, storm water retention and biodiversity conservation.

 

ENABLE uses a transdisciplinary approach to investigate the role of green and blue infrastructure in tackling a range of socio-ecological challenges cities are facing. At the heart of this are the co-creation of benefits, justice, resilience, and a truly interdisciplinary partnership. This brings new and unique insights on for example how urban planning processes and the development of the built environment lead to an equitable distribution of these spaces for all residents across the city.

On 13 March 2019, the ENABLE project and the City of Łódź invited Polish local governments, civil society organisations, and research institutes for an interactive workshop on “Unlocking the full potential of green and blue spaces in Polish cities – Learning from the experiences of science and practice”. The conference participants also had the opportunity to visit local nature-based solutions and revitalisation project sites in the city of Łódź to learn from real life experiences.

The Deputy Mayor of Łódź, Mr. Adam Wieczorek, highlighted the potential of green and blue spaces and the value of exchange of opinions with scientists, experts, local authority representatives. Along with the development of green and blue areas, the social process part of restoration of spaces is essential to create a more liveable city as it impacts people’s lives in multiple ways.

Revitalisation projects to create new social functions in the city centre of Łódź adapt to the needs of the inhabitants, both in terms of functionality and affordability. The programme that started in 2015 is combining architecture and refurbishment with automatic water systems, pocket parks, city gardens, 1000 new trees and the restoration of historical parks. The Green Polesie project is developed with inhabitants using a participative design process involving inhabitants in the development of streets.

Erik Andersson, Coordinator of the ENABLE project, emphasised that when we talk about sustainable development, we need to avoid divisions among disciplines and city departments and make sure to use an approach for cities that makes functions blend. Green and blue infrastructure is a natural way to blend the areas of city functioning, and needs to be integrated in city objectives, such as health and well-being, education, climate adaptation, recreation and ecological functionality.

He added that often green space is seen as separate from built up space. Therefore it is important that the dialogue is opened up, connecting different sectors of administration, as well as taking into account the local conditions, planning culture, historical and existing natural assets, and the level of active citizen engagement.

Polish city representatives and ENABLE scientists present at the workshop agreed on the untapped potential of collaboration across city departments and between science, planners, business developers and citizens for green and blue infrastructure upscaling.

Jakub Kronenberg, researcher at the University of Łódź and partner of the ENABLE project team, explained that the significance of blue and green infrastructure is growing in city decision-making processes and that a study on social processes in relation to green space developments and the value of trees for people in Łódź showed that people are willing to pay for greenery. He underlined the importance of research that reaches practice, through good cooperation between city departments and scientists and other important actors.

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