Cities in Central Europe are growing once again, turning green areas into grey spaces, and leaving these urban zones more vulnerable to climate change and extreme weather events.
In order to reverse this trend, the GreenScape CE project – Climate-proof landscape through renaturing urban areas in Central Europe, a project funded by the Interreg Central Europe programme of the European Union, integrates nature-based solutions (NBS) and green infrastructure (GI) in 5 CE urban areas, significantly affected by aggravating urban heat island effect.
The Milan Metropolitan Area, in Italy, is one of the pilot areas of the project. This is one of the most densely populated urban areas in Europe, covering the governance of 133 municipalities ranging from 1.400.000 inhabitants (City of Milan) and many 1.000 – 80.000 inhabitants towns (like Cassinetta di Lugagnano or Sesto San Giovanni). The Metropolitan Area of Milan has also one of the highest pollution levels and industry density.
Extremely affected by climate change, the Metropolitan Area of Milan declared a strong interest in the GreenScape CE project. Moreover, the initiative will also help the implementation of the Metro Adapt After LIFE project – a programme that combines climate change adaptation and NBS use in urban, regional and sectoral plans – by supporting knowledge exchange among different governance levels and among several disciplinary departments, providing new NBS designs in its territory. Ambiente Italia will mainly take care of the activities conducted within this pilot area.
The 2nd pilot area of GreenScape CE is Ptuj (Slovenia), one of the oldest Slovenian cities located in the north-eastern part of the country. As a regional centre at the national level, Ptuj is an important hub of social infrastructure, care, services, a main economic centre and traffic intersection in which many vital public functions are being developed, such as the secondary levels of health care, tertiary education, research agencies and judicial, administrative and social functions.
The city’s effort will enhance climate resilience in urban areas by integrating green infrastructure and improving the well-being and regeneration of urban areas through peer-to-peer learning and capacity building between cities. The Urban Planning Institute of the Republic of Slovenia will cooperate with ZRS Bistra Ptuj regarding the activities in this pilot area.
Another city involved in the project is Szeged (Hungary), the third most populated urban area in Hungary, located in the south-eastern part of the country. Close to the Serbian-Romanian-Hungarian triple border, Szeged is one of the south-eastern gates of the European Union. Its location, advanced infrastructure and service sector, high level education and its well-qualified labour force with foreign language skills make the city an attractive location for investors from the knowledge-intensive sectors.
Szeged is particularly exposed to climate change; heatwaves, extreme temperatures, storms and floods, are some examples of the events that frequently affect the city. Consequently, the administration of Szeged is very committed to sustainable development through local initiatives to adapt building and implement green infrastructures and renovation areas. Within the framework of the GreenScape CE project the City Administration in Szeged, together with Energiaklub, will pay special attention to the greening of bus stations.
The 4th pilot area of GreenScape CE is Zagreb (Croatia). The City of Zagreb, together with REGEA, North-West Croatia Regional Energy and Climate Agency, is responsible for the execution of tasks on a local level. Zagreb is the cultural, scientific, economic, political and administrative centre of the Republic of Croatia. It has a special status as a Croatian administrative division and is a consolidated city county administratively subdivided into 17 city districts.
Zagreb’s focus on sustainable development and building adaptation is increasing, as well as its desire to create a more environmentally sustainable transport system and reduce the high concentration of air pollution that affects the health of its citizens and the tourism index. Zagreb is one of the first EU cities implementing user-friendly web GIS tools for urban environment monitoring with regard to life quality and health aspects.
Finally, the last pilot area of the project is Warsaw (Poland), the capital and largest city of Poland. This city is also Poland’s most important economic centre and one of Europe’s most rapidly developing areas. It has a lot of green areas and forests, covering more than 26% of the city’s total area, and an incredibly well-developed public transport network. A unique natural asset are the Vistula’s wild river banks.
As concerns GreenScape CE, the City of Warsaw – Public Roads Authority is working to increase the number of healthy and sustainable urban spaces, creating preconditions for smart urban logistics and smart urban transport consolidation, clean air policy, and zero-emission transport.
These five pilot areas will be the focal point of the project implementation and, thanks to the partners cooperation and development of NBS and green solutions, will benefit directly, improving local well-being and citizens’ lives.