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Online Conference: Blue and Green Infrastructure for Urban Climate Change Mitigation

Online conference: Blue and green infrastructure for urban climate change mitigation

The event was addressed to city officials, local government employees, planners, designers and landscape architects actually involved in the management of greenery, rainwater management and development of blue-green-infrastructure in cities.

The online conference, broadcasted live from the studio was watched by 252 people. Participants had the opportunity to ask questions in a chat. The interactive online workshops brought together 42 participants and were conducted in three small groups using the Zoom platform and the Mural interactive online whiteboard.

Climate NBS Poland Online conference: Blue and green infrastructure for urban climate change mitigation © Ewa Iwaszuk

Online conference: plenary session

The first panel started with a presentation “Good Practices from Germany as an inspiration for Polish local-governments: presentation of innovative nature-based solutions from Berlin”, conducted by Ewa Iwaszuk from Ecologic Institute. It served as a starting point for a discussion with study visit participants: Jacek Kisiel (City of Warsaw) and Bożena Zając (City of Mysłowice), moderated by Tomasz Bergier from the Sendzimir Foundation. The panelists shared their observations from the visit and perspectives for the introduction of similar solutions in Polish cities.

Panel discussion: perspectives on introduction of innovative nature-based solutions and implementation of best practice examples from abroad in Polish context © Ewa Iwaszuk

The next item on the agenda was a discussion on the experiences of transferring solutions from abroad to Poland, using the example of the Biotope Area Factor (BAF) from Berlin, conducted by Ilona Gosk with urban planner Agnieszka Kowalewska. During the discussion, the provisions of Polish law, which limit the introduction of similar solutions in local land use plans, were discussed.

Discussion on the experiences of transferring solutions from abroad to Poland, using the example of the Biotope Area Factor (BAF) from Berlin ©Fundacja Sendzimira © Ewa Iwaszuk

The last panel presented the results of technical trainings, during which planners and designers developed concepts of specific blue and green infrastructure investments for the cities hosting the trainings. The panel opened with presentations of sample studies from Warsaw, Krakow and Gdynia. Tomasz Bergier, who led this part of the conference, discussed with the guests sitting in the panel: Łukasz Pawlik (Krakow) and Jacek Wiśnicki (Warsaw), who discussed the prospects of implementing the developed concepts. Other investments in nature-based solutions undertaken by cities were also discussed.

At the end of the conference, Ilona Gosk reminded the participants that we all face the challenge of implementing the European Green Deal. She expressed the hope that the presented inspirations will allow the conference participants to take better actions to adapt cities to climate change, achieve climate neutrality, and that the presented cooperation mechanisms will allow the effective use of external funds.

The recording of the online conference is available on YouTube (in Polish).

Interactive workshops

Thursday’s workshop was an extension of the discussions started during the conference. Small groups and use of cutting edge software allowed for interactive discussion and exchange of experience.

The workshop entitled “Cooperation of designers and officials in the implementation of green and blue infrastructure solutions” was conducted by Agnieszka Czachowska and Karolina Maliszewska from the Sendzimir Foundation. During the workshop, the readiness of cities for the implementation of nature-based solutions was discussed and the main difficulties encountered by municipal staff in the process of commissioning, supervising and using blue-green infrastructure facilities were identified. The participants searched for solutions to help implement pilot projects in line with the expectations of cities and designers.

The participants of the second workshop, conducted by Ewa Iwaszuk from the Ecologic Institute and Tomasz Bergier from the Sendzimir Foundation, entitled “How to implement comprehensive and multifunctional blue and green infrastructure systems in Polish cities”, wished there was more time to discuss all the issues raised in the workshop. The participants reported the need for further work on recommendations on how to adapt foreign solutions to Polish realities.

The last workshop entitled “Adaptation of local law solutions from abroad to promote the development of nature-based solutions to Polish conditions” was conducted by Ilona Gosk from the Sendzimir Foundation and urban planner – Agnieszka Kowalewska. During the workshop, participants discussed the conditions that must be met in order to successfully adapt solutions from abroad to the reality of Polish cities. A map of Polish good practices, submitted by the training participants, was also created.

Map of best practices in Polish cities, created during the interactive workshop: “Adaptation of local law solutions from abroad to promote the development of nature-based solutions to Polish conditions” ©Fundacja Sendzimira

Conference materials

The conference was held in Polish. Recordings from individual panels and presentations of the speakers are available on this website.

Addressing Climate Change in Cities: Berlin study tour for Polish nature-based solutions and local government experts

Berlin: a frontrunner in urban nature-based solutions

Nature-based solutions (NBS) can be implemented in urban settings to deliver a suite of services to address climate change, such as reduced demand for heating and cooling, stormwater management, microclimate regulation but also support human health and recreation. Thanks to their multi-functionality and sustainability NBS are increasingly applied as measures to address climate change in cities – in Berlin, a number of innovative NBS projects have been implemented in Berlin already since the 1990s to address such challenges.

Constructed urban wetland in the Kreuzberg district of Berlin forms part of rain-, grey- and blackwater management system, combined with urban farming at pilot site RoofWaterFarm © Ewa Iwaszuk

“I was very impressed by the fact that twenty years ago, when the climate crisis was not yet a widely discussed issue, such solutions were already being proposed in Berlin” said Monika Pec-Święcicka, Deputy Director of the Wrocław Municipal Green Spaces Management Authority. “The reasons were different, and they were the same as those which made our parents save water and collect paper, bottles and metal”.

Visiting the most innovative NBS sites in Berlin

During the two-day tour, the Polish experts visited the complex application of the sustainable urban drainage system (SUDS) at Potsdamer Platz, the Roof Water Farm and Block 6, a test-site for innovative urban grey and black water management combined with urban farming, ufaFabrik a cultural centre and home to Berlin’s oldest green roofs and a solar-powered “sustainable oasis of culture”. On the second day, the Polish experts learned about thermal management and on-site water management concept at the building of the Department of Physics of Humboldt University. Finally, the participants visited Rummelsburg Bucht, an eco-district with a complex rainwater management system and an exemplary model of the “Sponge City” concept.

Mr Werner Wiartalla of ufaFabrik explained the synergies between green roofs and solar panels: the lower temperature on green roofs, compared to traditional roofs, prevent overheating and allow for more optimal energy production in the hot summer months. Solar panels, on the other hand, provide shade which helps with maintenance of vegetation on an extensive green roof.© Ewa Iwaszuk

“The trip to Berlin was extremely inspiring”, said Aleksandra Zienkiewicz, Public Relations Coordinator of the Wrocław Municipal Green Spaces Management Authority”. What impressed me the most were the really very technical projects, such as the water treatment on and in the buildings at Potsdamer Platz, where the treated water fed an artificial lake that could cool down the area in a hot summer. On the other hand, however, the simplest solutions, connected with appropriate shaping of road surfaces, adapting roadside infrastructure to accept rainwater, or directing rainwater through from a paved up square to green areas, which are an integral part of that square, seem to be the easiest to implement quickly in Wrocław. What I hope will happen and become a standard solution”.

“I think that the selection of site visits was very appropriate It has fully shown that nature-based solutions require broader and interdisciplinary thinking, but ultimately lead to savings and an increase in quality of life” added Monika Pec-Święcicka. “I was most impressed by ufaFabrik’s actions, especially the solar panels that rotate in relation to the sun, and do not require manual operation, but rather use the laws of physics”.

Exchange between Polish and German NBS experts

The Polish participants had also an opportunity to exchange with Berlin-based sustainable urban development experts: Brigitte Reichmann from the Senate Department for Urban Development and Housing, Dr. Darla Nickel, Head of the Berliner Regenwasseragentur and Dr. Carlo Becker founder of bgmr Landschaftsarchitekten. The expert discussion addressed issues such as the involvement of private investors in the planning and implementation of NBS, application of ecological building criteria or the Berlin regulations for rainwater infiltration and implementation of decentralized approaches.

Mr Marco Schmidt from the Technical University of Berlin explained the details of the natural energy- and water-saving solutions implemented at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin © Ewa Iwaszuk

“My dream for the city of Wrocław is that, in new developments, all rainwater would have to be managed on site and that buildings would drain grey and black water separately, giving great opportunities for further use of such wastewater – which we could already see in Berlin – for the benefit of people and the environment” commented Aleksandra Zienkiewicz.

The study tour was part of the “Climate NBS Poland” EUKI project. The project aims to increase the understanding, acceptance and uptake of multifunctional NBS as a cost-effective urban climate mitigation and climate protection measure. By initiating and fostering cooperation and exchange between Polish and German planning, engineering and policy experts, the project seeks to build capacity, knowledge and skills among city officials, municipal staff and landscape planners to enable the conceptual and technical design and implementation of NBS.

Aleksandra Zienkiewicz and Monika Pec-Święcicka from the Wrocław Municipal Green Spaces Management Authority agreed the study visit served as an inspiration for innovative solutions that could be implemented in Wrocław © Ewa Iwaszuk

© Ewa Iwaszuk

© Ewa Iwaszuk

© Ewa Iwaszuk

© Ewa Iwaszuk

© Ewa Iwaszuk

© Ewa Iwaszuk