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International research project for sustainable urban development

Researchers from Europe and China are gathering in Aarhus this week to kick-off a major joint research project focusing on sustainable urban development and the transition to a climate-friendly future at a time when urban areas are facing unprecedented challenges. The project is being coordinated by researchers from the Department of Environmental Science at Aarhus University.

2019.10.24 | Christina Troelsen

[Translate to English:] Aarhus Å set fra Europaplads ind mod Magasin under stormen Bodil i december 2013. Byrådet i Aarhus arbejder for at skabe en grønnere by med plads til vandet og se vandet som en ressource. Målet er at få skabt plads til vandet samtidig med at der bliver nye faciliteter til en aktiv fritid, mere bynatur, grønnere byrum og nye fællesskaber i området. Så når der tilpasses til et ændret klima med flere, kraftige regnskyl, bliver borgerne inddraget i forandringen af deres lokale område, så Aarhus Kommune bliver grønnere og et godt sted at være for alle. Foto: Aarhus Kommune

Aarhus Å seen from Europaplads looking towards the Magasin department store during Storm Bodil in December 2013. Aarhus City Council is working to create a greener city, with space for water, which they see as a resource. The idea is that, in creating space for water, it is also possible to create new facilities for active recreation, more urban nature, greener urban spaces and new communities. So when adapting to a changing climate with more and heavier rainfall, citizens will be involved in the transformation of their local area, so that the City of Aarhus becomes greener and a good place for everyone. Photo: City of Aarhus

On Tuesday 22 October, Aarhus University will open its doors to the first meeting in a major new international research project that puts the climate and the environment on the agenda in a new perspective. The project is called "REGREEN – Fostering nature-based solutions for equitable, green and healthy urban transitions in Europe and China", and it is being funded by EU Horizon 2020. The project is being coordinated by researchers from the Department of Environmental Science at Aarhus University.

The project brings together about 40 researchers from Europe and China, who will be meeting in the colourful surroundings of the ARoS art museum on 22-25 October to discuss the transition to a climate-friendly future and sustainable urban development. The focus of the project is on nature-based solutions (NBS), which is a way of integrating and exploiting nature's own ecosystems in the best possible solution to the city's challenges.

Aarhus to have more nature in the urban space

The City of Aarhus is one of the partners in the project. In practice, for cities like Aarhus, the project will result in more and better nature in the urban space, which in turn will increase health and welfare, biodiversity and climate-change adaptation. The project supports Aarhus' own green strategies for managing water, nature, and climate adaptation by examining, among other things:

  • How to value initiatives that restore or manage the city's ecosystems, in order to achieve a better foundation for management and prioritisation.
  • How to draw the city's nature into classrooms so that schoolchildren learn to appreciate and see the values in nature and biodiversity and become better stewards of a future sustainable development.
  • Experiments to identify how different types of management can support the use of the city's ecosystems, e.g. how floods due to high groundwater levels, cloudbursts and increases in water levels can be remediated with different initiatives based on green areas and ecosystem services.
  • What other cities are doing in relation to water management in order to avoid flooding, and management of green areas to improve biodiversity.

Cities are living laboratories

The REGREEN project comprises three cities in Europe: Aarhus in Denmark, Ile de France (Paris) in France and Velika Gorica in Croatia, and three cities in China: Beijing, Shanghai and Ningbo. The cities in the project will be Urban Living Labs, involving the cities’ nature and citizens in a close collaboration.

In addition to the studies in Aarhus, researchers in Paris, for example, will be looking at the so-called climate pathways, where the soil seal is minimised, and at how the population can be involved in biodiversity management through citizen science. In Velica Gorika, they will be exploring how air pollution, floods and hot islands can be remediated using ecosystem-based solutions. And in China, among other things they will be looking at how air pollution, hot islands and extremely high population densities can be addressed by city planning based on different green solutions, such as the three land project in Shanghai to increase areas with grass, forest and wetland in the city.

FACTS:

REGREEN – fostering nature-based solutions for equitable, green and healthy urban transitions in Europe and China is being funded by a Horizon 2020 grant of just under EUR 5 million shared between 16 European partners. In addition, four Chinese partners are self-financed.

For more information, please contact:

Senior Researcher Pia Frederiksen
Department of Environmental Science
Aarhus University
Telephone: +4522974060
Email: pfr@envs.au.dk

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