GrowGreen cities plan collaborations in Wroclaw

The GrowGreen team met in June in Wroclaw’s beautiful old town hall to discuss progress in developing demonstration projects and strategies for nature-based solutions and to find opportunities to share knowledge and experiences.

To start the meeting, the team visited the sites of the nature-based solutions demonstration projects that will be developed in the Olbin neighbourhood of Wroclaw. In this part of the city, the courtyards between apartment buildings are currently used as parking or empty space. With the help of the local residents, nature-based solutions have been designed to store rainwater, provide shade, and increase biodiversity. They will also include children’s playgrounds and community gardens for people to meet and enjoy the space. The courtyards will be linked with a ‘green street’ with more trees planted. The impacts of the nature-based solutions on temperature, stormwater, biodiversity and other parameters will be investigated by comparing monitoring data collected before and after their installation.

Adam Zawada, Deputy Mayor, and Katarzyna Szymczak-Pomianowska, Director of Sustainable Development of the city of Wroclaw, opened the formal meeting. The city of Wroclaw aims to lead by example, and they encouraged the GrowGreen project to show how nature-based solutions are the foundation for a better future.

Since the project’s last General Assembly in Valencia in June 2018, much progress has been made. Plans for the demonstration projects in Manchester, Valencia and Wroclaw are well advanced. Local citizens have co-created the designs for their nature-based solutions with the GrowGreen team and on-site monitoring systems have been running to collect information before the solutions are put in place. In most cases, construction work will begin soon.

Work is also advancing fast in the other GrowGreen cities. Zadar has produced a draft strategy for nature-based solutions, and Modena is investigating the effects of rainwater in the city and how nature-based solutions can be used to store and absorb it. The city of Brest is looking into better management of the problem of combined sewer overflows during heavy rainfall.

The cities involved in GrowGreen have different experiences and are at different stages of the process to establish nature-based solutions in their cities. The cities discussed issues of integrating nature-based solutions in spatial planning and of effectively monitoring and evaluating their impact. Cities tackling similar issues identified support they can offer each other, and opportunities to work together as the project progresses.

GrowGreen partners are also supporting this work – providing guidance on spatial analysis, nature-based solutions design, monitoring and evaluation, business models and financing, and other key aspects. For example, the GrowGreen conference on innovative financing for green cities offered training on this topic, and a compendium of financing sources for nature-based solutions, developed by Trinomics, gives further information.

Over the next year, work will continue on implementing the demonstration projects and monitoring their impacts, as well as on updating or developing nature-based solutions strategies, with the support of the GrowGreen partners. The lessons learnt will feed into activities to build capacity of other cities and replicate the project outcomes internationally.