Green infrastructure | Research » INTERLACE – International Cooperation to Restore and Connect Urban Environments in Latin America and Europe

Inauguration of the Metropolitan Action Group

The Metropolitan Action Group was established as part of the INTERLACE project with the goal to cooperate in order to renew and strengthen natural areas in 15 municipalities of the Krakow Metropolis. The inaugural meeting was held online on March 18, 2021.

The Krakow Metropolis is one of the six urban areas participating in the international INTERLACE project. The others are located in Germany, Spain, Colombia, Costa Rica and Ecuador.

The newly created Metropolitan Action Group (MAG) is meant to strengthen the municipalities’ cooperation in the management and protection of blue and green infrastructure. One of the goals is to create tools that will make it possible to evaluate the effectiveness of using such solutions.

Diverse perspectives

The first meeting of the MAG was attended by 31 people representing all 15 municipalities of the Metropolis, as well as the Marshal’s Office of the Małopolska Region, Kraków poviat, the Kraków Municipal Greenspace Authority, Ojców National Park, National Water Management Authority, the Myślenice Forest District and the Kraków University of Technology and the partner organizations, i.e. the Ecologic Institute from Berlin and the Sendzimir Foundation. The meeting was chaired by a representative of the Krakow Metropolis Association.

The representative of the Ecologic Institute, the project leader, emphasized that thanks to international cooperation, local governments can strengthen their knowledge and competences in several areas: awareness of specific tools for designing, implementing and monitoring nature-based solutions, creating appropriate strategies and public policies, increasing the participation of residents in developing these solutions as well as environmental education and promotion.

Blue and green solutions to contemporary challenges

The participants discussed the challenges faced by the Metropolis municipalities. Most admitted that they are struggling with air pollution, drought and the risk of fire, along with the threat of flooding and flooding and – in some cases – the urban heat island effect. These phenomena have been increasing in recent years due to climate change.

It was admitted that nature-based solutions, including blue and green infrastructure, offer a chance to reduce these threats. However, to enable high efficiency of such solutions, scattered ‘green islands’ are not sufficient. It is necessary to create a whole network of interconnected areas that will ensure the continuity of ecosystems. In order to achieve this, cooperation between municipalities and long-term space planning are necessary.

Environmental education has been pointed to as the second very important task. MAG participants are convinced that when planning such solutions, it is necessary to involve the local community and raise public awareness of the various benefits of properly protected green areas. Otherwise, it will be difficult to secure broad public support for the wider use of blue and green infrastructure.

The participants admitted that these areas are still under very strong pressure from various business investments and housing development. Public awareness about the importance and role of such areas is low and there is strong conflict between private property and common goods. As one participant said, “everyone who owns a plot of land believes that they have the right to cut trees and pour concrete there”. Yet, it is necessary to preserve green spaces not just on public but also on private areas.

Access to international experiences

Participation in the INTERLACE project gives local governments the opportunity to take advantage of international experience in planning and protecting blue and green infrastructure, as well as in promoting knowledge about its key role in the era of climate change. For 3 years, 15 municipalities of the Metropolis will be able to co-create and use the project’s resources.

They will be developed by 21 organizations from 11 countries. Partners includes 6 cities from Europe (Krakow Metropolitan Area in Poland, Granollers in Spain, Chemnitz in Germany) and Latin America (Portoviejo in Ecuador, Envigado in Colombia, Corredor Biológico Interurbano Río María Aguilar-San José in Costa Rica) and 15 scientific institutions, companies and non-governmental organizations.

 

Image: Jacek Dylag on Unsplash

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