10 January 2022
Local Task Forces Launched to Steer NBS Implementation in GoGreenRoutes Cultivating Cities
GoGreenRoutes is looking for innovative ways to broaden understandings of Nature-based Solutions (NBS) and to develop new approaches with cities and their residents to improve well-being in urban environments. To increase NBS acceptance and ownership by residents, and ensure NBS help meet local needs, one of the project’s priorities is to embed a strong social dimension and participatory approach into NBS planning processes.
As part of these goals, GoGreenRoutes worked with city partners to develop Challenge Workshops between August and November 2021. They laid the foundation for future development of nature-based interventions in each GGR Cultivating City and were the first opportunity for stakeholders in each city to meet, get to know each other, and provide input into the local project, forming local “GGR Task Forces”.
The cities of Burgas, Lahti, Limerick, Tallinn, and Umeå each organised a workshop to foster collaboration and better understand challenges and opportunities related to the potential project sites for their interventions, co-creating a common vision for their NBS. Stakeholders’ knowledge, skills and possible pathways for contribution and involvement were also identified.
A number of positive outcomes came out of the workshops. For example, in Lahti, where a “Health Forest” is being developed near the city’s central hospital, stakeholders identified the need to create more accessible areas for recreation with opportunities for more diverse groups of people. Special attention will be given to the needs of the hospital, the children of the hospital school and the local kindergarten. It is hoped that opportunities for small entrepreneurs will also arise around these. In addition, many stakeholders were in favour of setting up an “experience path” in the forest for children. Apart from the city and local district administrations, health sector specialists, local nature-based entrepreneurs, city planners, environmental experts, researchers and members of the educational sector will be involved in Lahti's GGR Task Force.
In all Cultivating Cities, a number of group-generated resources came out of the workshops such as stakeholder maps, mind maps, and analysis of strengths and weaknesses of certain project ideas.
A common challenge that occurred within each city was dealing with Covid-19 and the respective restrictions and obstacles the pandemic posed to community organising and social gathering. Due to Covid-19, for instance, the City of Versailles had to postpone its Challenge Workshop and the launch of its GGR Task Force to early 2022. The use of digital participation tools, however, has been helping cities cope with difficulties posed by the pandemic.
The Challenge Workshops were an important first step for engaging stakeholders and moving towards the design and implementation of the NBS interventions. Local task forces in all partner cities will be formalised in 2022 and they will drive the design and planning of two NBS projects forward: a transitory seedbed intervention and a permanent NBS intervention.
Banner photo: GoGreenRoutes challenge workshop in Burgas, Bulgaria