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Expert Dialogue Meeting Between CyI and URBiNAT for the Promotion of Nature Based Solutions and Sustainable Innovation in the “Urban Fabric” Featured

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On September 30, 2021, the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Office of The Cyprus Institute and IKED, a partner in the URBINAT project, co-organized an online event to exchange knowledge, experiences and best practises on key activities implemented by both parties within the context of urban sustainable development.

URBiNAT, a project funded by the EU Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, consists of a worldwide consortium of both research and business partners in 7 European cities. It focuses on the regeneration and integration of undeserved city areas by applying the concepts of Community of Practice (CoP) and Nature Based Solutions (NBS) to co-create together with citizens and local community actors, Healthy Corridors, an integration of a number of connected innovative and flexible micro NBS emerging from community-driven design processes, into the ‘urban fabric’ with the ultimate goal to improve the wellbeing and environment of citizens.

The Cyprus Institute (CyI) has been an observer in URBiNAT since April 2021. This mode of engagement provides CyI an opportunity to collaborate with the URBiNAT ecosystem via knowledge sharing activities, the development of joint research projects and the promotion of URBiNAT implementation methods and tools which lead to the development of Nature Based Solutions in Cyprus.

Among the goals of the Expert’s Dialogue Meeting was to achieve better understanding of the approaches and achievements of the participating organisations in urban regeneration, including NBS and Healthy corridors co-created with citizens, how they compare and what lessons can be learned from success factors as well as hindrances. Moreover, the discussion also aimed to identify opportunities and set out a roadmap for collaboration going forward.

The event began with presentations from URBINAT consortium members and partners who presented a number of topics on how NBS impacts health and wellbeing in disconnected neighbourhoods and how open innovation and open data can ignite and inspire urban sustainable development. They also showcased how co-creation processes were implemented in many EU NBS Cities’ projects.  

The Cyprus Institute has brought attention to the current debate around the urban development of Nicosia and the establishment of the Pedieos river urban park, which can be an ideal testbed for the implementation of Nature Based Solutions and the creation of a Healthy Corridor that spans and connects all the main city districts. In this context, experts from CyI, Asst. Prof. Georgios Artopoulos of the Science and Technology for Archaeology and Culture Center (STARC), Assoc. Prof. Adriana Bruggeman and Prof. Salvatore Carlucci of the Energy Environment and Water Research Center (EEWRC), presented topics on sustainable participatory urban design, the protection and regeneration of river basins and urban river agenda, showing effective connection with the Pedieos river urban park.

Moreover, the CyI Innovation and Entrepreneurship Office presented U-SOLVE, a project funded by ENI CBC MED, and described how Open Innovation and ecosystem participatory tools can be engaged to support entrepreneurial processes targeting Urban Sustainable development. The presentation concluded with suggestions on how the introduction of Healthy corridors can become attractors for the prioritization of those Sustainable Development Goals’ dimensions that will be selected to implement the resulting place based Urban Sustainable Development strategies.

The event was concluded with a round table discussion where NGOs and citizen representatives from Nicosia located around the Pedieos area as well as NGOs collaborating with URBINAT in Portugal, Sofia-Bulgaria and Nova Goricia-Slovenia shared their visions, experiences and ideas on the design and use of NBS for sustainable urban development.