Mar Riera Spiegelhalder | Fundació ENT
With more frequent and devasting climate episodes (floods, storm surges, droughts, wildfires, etc.) and the worst climate scenarios predictions (RCP8.5) coming true, urban settlements may not be able to adapt. Now, the interest is how adaptation policies can be embedded to ensure climate resilience of cities. Nature-based solutions, and more generally green infrastructure, have been gaining importance in the last decade for the additional benefits (e.g., regulation, recreation, health, food provision) they offer, and their long-term sustainability, among others. It is crucial for climate adaptation plans and policies to readily adopt these measures. Local level is well suited to undertake these decisions, as citizens can participate in creating targeted adaptation strategies following a bottom-up approach.
Each local context is different and has its own specificities. Policymakers need to understand the best actions to address climate emergency. To make well informed decisions, policy and decision makers must rely on climate projections, socio-economic assessment, but also on public acceptance of the planned interventions. Here citizen engagement in the decision process is central.
Living Lab is an iterative feedback process and participatory approach to co-define the problem, co-create or co-design the solution and co-implement it for scaling-up. This framework ensures enhanced stakeholder and citizen reliance on the proposed solutions through a systematic and effective involvement. In the last years, successful Living Lab experiences have flourished across EU countries, led by public bodies, civic associations, and other oganisations. Based on the quadruple helix model, Living Lab ensures a representative participation of a variety of stakeholders from government, academia, industry, and citizens. If we want to build climate resilient and sustainable communities, we must build on effective community engagement and interdisciplinary collaboration to address climate challenges and guarantee well-being of the population.
Adopting bottom-up approaches stimulate discussions amongst stakeholders to raise awareness and gather the insights of their perceptions and acceptance, accruing policy relevance. Combining scientific inputs with local knowledge facilitates the implementation process of Nature-based Solutions, understanding their functioning and overcoming some of the Nature-based Solutions barriers (e.g., lack of knowledge, decisions inspired by power-relations). Setting Living Lab structures allows the cooperation of a variety of stakeholders and the scientific community to find the most optimal solution to address the specificities of the local context. This form of cooperation broadens the scope and impact of the actions to be undertaken by policymakers and allows for replicability.
In a time when the international scientific community is calling for immediate action to cut-down carbon emissions and motions towards an economic transition to prioritise people instead of market needs, local contexts and their communities take centre stage to push forward policy makers for immediate action on this climate emergency. Livnig Lab offers an opportunity to increase cooperation, knowledge exchange and relevance of their solutions proposed for effectively influencing decisions taken at the policy level.
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