By Ralph de Witte, John Matte, Lisalena Horvath & Jill Scholz.
Cities are one of the most vulnerable areas in our world to the impacts of climate change. There are risks of flooding, heat stress and air pollution among others that effect a large group of the population as most of us live in urban areas, and the number is rising (United Nations, 2018). So, with growing populations and more threats of climate change it is now the time more than ever to think about how our cities are going to look in the future and how they can overcome those impacts from climate change.
This was our topic this semester and we dreamed about green cities in our future that can withstand the effects of climate change through nature-based solutions. While eating falafel wraps in Zwolle at our very first meeting as a group, we imagined rooftop gardens, community spaces and many green areas full of wildflowers and trees. Then we started to work, and we asked ourselves, how can this become reality? What does it need to bring together different stakeholders and create green urban spaces and sustainability in a city?
The answer we found is co-creation.
Through research, interviews and conversations with different stakeholders in our network we found that the connection between them is missing and that often some projects are tackled in a collaborative way but to really be successful it needs a more holistic and co-creative way to address the issue of climate change in cities in the long-term.
All of this happened online as the COVID-19 situation worsened and we all had to stay home. Some of us even left Zwolle and the Netherlands and we soon became an international team. We had a few ideas for our final product in mind like creating an advocacy video about climate change solutions in cities or something for schools to implement more sustainable practices in the curriculum. After discussions and advice from our coach we decided that the most feasible and valuable product we could develop in this situation for our network would be an advisory report. So, we decided to write an advisory report about co-creating sustainable cities to support our network in strategy development and to inspire them to appreciate the importance of working together as a whole.
We did a lot of research, had regular meetings online and kept in touch with our stakeholders to make sure to address the topics that were most important and valuable for them and also the things they do not want to have in there.
We put in a lot of effort and it was hard work to work together remotely and online but we did it and we are satisfied with the outcome. We hope that our stakeholders can take some things from it and increase their co-creational practices in the future so that the dream of green cities can come to life.