Last week (12-13 Oct. 2023) the UPSURGE consortium met in the beautiful surroundings of the University of Antwerp. A two-day meeting full of vivid presentations and discussions on the progress of our work related to the technical aspects and the citizen-centred approach of the NBS interventions for air pollution and climate change adaptation at the 5 demo cities Belfast, Breda, Budapest, Maribor and Katowice as well as converting them into a pool of expertise and services to be offered by the UPSURGE EU Regenerative Lighthouse.
Day one of our meeting addressed the developments related to the technical aspects of the NBS interventions. We discussed the multimodal sensors, the digital tools to ensure connectivity with citizens and stakeholders as well as modelling tools enabling demonstration of the NBS functionality and impact. Research partners presented different research-related activities relevant to the NBS implementation e.g. soil testing in Belfast, experiments with carbon sequestration using biochar and basalt soil amendments. Cities presented their progress and final designs towards launching the NBS interventions.
On day 2 we focused on the role of citizen engagement and the development of the EU Regenerative Urban Lighthouse. The success of the NBS interventions and their upscaling depend on local community involvement. For that purpose, UPSURGE establishes a working environment called PlaceLab at each demo city to engage with the citizens and the stakeholders and jointly monitor and assess the NBS interventions. Each PlaceLab is to be facilitated by a CompetencyGroup with a role to build understanding, awareness rising, citizen engagement, and empowerment and tackle social aspects of NBS e.g. equity of access, and gender issues. Since each of our NBS interventions in the 5 demo cites is different, the work with the PlaceLabs will be exciting yet challenging. The first impressions and experiences since the establishment of the Competency Groups shared and discussed at the meeting already prove it!
Our meeting concluded by discussing the advances of the EU Regenerative Lighthouse tools and services including the Clearinghouse that are to help navigate the cities towards the successful implementation of NBS. With that background, we have made a first attempt to formulate a value proposition for the Lighthouse at a joint workshop using the value proposition canvas methodology.
It was a great and very productive meeting! Many thanks to our colleagues from Global Change Ecology Centre, University of Antwerp for providing this exceptional ambience for our joint work in Antwerp!