Cluj-Napoca welcomes proGIreg partners to the first Cities Workshop
5 July 2019
Which plants attract more bees and butterflies to our cities? When is the best moment to go commercial with city aquaponics? What kinds of urban gardening formats exist? These are just some of the many questions asked during the proGIreg Cities Workshop, hosted by Cluj-Napoca, Romania, on 15-16 May 2019. The purpose of the workshop was to enable the proGIreg cities - Zagreb, Dortmund, Turin, Ningbo, Zenica, Piraeus, Cascais and hosts Cluj-Napoca - to share and learn from each other, and to plan further peer exchanges throughout the project to foster the replication and upscaling of nature-based solutions in post-industrial and other suitable areas back home. Apart from the proGIreg cities representatives from project partners RWTH Aachen, ICLEI Europe, DUAL, ZEDA agency, HEI-TRO, KEAN, URBASOFIA and SWUAS – attended the event.
During the workshop, the cities shared their experiences of learning and exchange on other projects and suggested how to best optimise these experiences for the benefit of proGIreg. Facilitators from project partners ICLEI Europe and URBASOFIA, mapped the needs, interests and expertise of the cities, identifying common themes and questions around how to measure the impact of nature-based solutions, develop local partnerships and ensure the policy requirements are met in the local contexts.
In ‘World Café’ and ‘speed dating’ sessions, front-runner city representatives and project partners with a deeper expertise on specific nature-based solutions (regenerating contaminated soil, community aquaponics, creating urban gardens and increasing and measuring pollinator biodiversity) ‘hosted’ thematic tables, while follower cities moved from table to table, gaining direct feedback on their cities’ ideas and challenges faced. This enabled cities to also explore new options; for example, many learned that, increasing pollinator diversity requires no expensive inputs, but is rather about understanding which plants to use, and linking them via green corridors to avoid pollinator traps.
Prof. Yaoyang Xu from the Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences, also introduced the City of Ningbo as a new, recently confirmed front-runner within proGIreg. The presentation included an overview of this Eastern Chinese city, its challenges faced and aims within the project, as the only non-European city in the project.
“The proGIreg project provides an excellent opportunity to foster Chinese-European collaboration on the innovative integration of nature-based solutions on technical, social and economic levels for urban sustainability” said Prof. Yaoyang Xu.
The final highlights of the workshop were the site visits to the Someș River area, led by Adrian Răulea from the City of Cluj, which is to be regenerated via an open design competition, and to the nearby Salina Turda, a former salt mine and industrial heritage site.