Improved urban parks increase communities’ climate resilience

Start Park, a project led by citizens from Florence, Italy, has won “Most advanced idea” at the global Climathon Awards 2020. The prize rewards the team that has improved the most since taking part in a previous Climathon: a city-based 24-hour ideathon organised by EIT Climate-KIC, where citizens are invited to brainstorm solutions to lessen the impact of the extreme weather events their city is already facing or will have to face in the near future.

Born out of Climathon 2017 in Florence, Start Park aims to broaden the role of environmental architecture in redesigning urban parks so they become key elements of the city’s adaptation strategy. By including the residents in improving the design of these parks, the initiative aims to simultaneously raise climate awareness in the population. 

The team from Florence is composed of environmental architects, engineers, innovation experts, anthropologists, designers and contemporary art curators. Their idea is to use nature-based solutions to improve the design and architecture of urban green spaces.  

Nature-based solutions (NBS) are interventions that work with nature to address societal challenges, providing benefits for both human wellbeing and biodiversity: think green roofs, community gardens or wetland restoration. NBS are one of the most interesting tools for climate change adaptation. They can respond to specific risks related to climate change driven by changes in rainfall patterns, such as the increase in flood, droughts and heat island events, as well as biodiversity loss and water quality deterioration in rivers.  

The Start Park team came up with their idea to answer the Climathon organisers’ question: “How might citizens and local actors contribute to raising the city’s resilience to tackle the more and more frequent extreme climate events?”. Their suggestion: To develop a public/private service that would foster the creation of widespread urban parks – using NBS – that could trigger the community’s climate resilience, both inside households and in the urban space.  

After two years of research on climate change, urban resilience and citizen participation, the collective developed the multi-purpose Start Park concept: an urban green area whose infrastructure and services are dedicated to water reuse, drainage and supplemented by activities to raise climate awareness in the local community. 

Start Park already received two rounds of funding of €25,000 by winning Designscapes, a Horizon 2020 project that aims to build capacity for design-enabled innovation in urban environments. The team started to develop their first prototype in a green area in the Soccorso district of Prato, in Tuscany, in 2019. In the process, they invited citizens (local neighborhood committee, primary school students and parents, artists, activists), but also professional designers, social innovators and NGOs to participate in a workshop to imagine and design a Start Park in a green residual area of the city. In 2020, the team agreed to start replicating their concept in the city of Lucca, another commune of Tuscany. 

“We are already in the process of liaising with a number of stakeholders hoping to connect the socio-cultural and the economic value that could derive from the infrastructural work of a Start Park,” says Marco Berni, one of Start Park team members. “And we are in contact with public authorities to identify funding opportunities for the realisation of the two first co-designed Start Parks in Prato and Lucca.”

The team is now developing a toolkit to allow other cities in Europe to replicate the Start Park prototype and measure its impact. Winning Climathon 2020’s “Most improved Idea” gives them the opportunity to continue developing their idea with the support and mentorship of Microsoft’s Worldwide Sustainability Community. 

 
Location
Italy
Related Goal
Goal 2: Nurture nature-based resilience for cities
Articles you may be interested in
In The News
What’s the future of trade in a climate crisis?

EIT Climate-KIC Chief Executive Officer Kirsten Dunlop addressed the...

What’s the future of trade in a climate crisis?
In The News
Wanted: Green business ideas to fix climate change

Starting today, the seventh edition of the global green...

Wanted: Green business ideas to fix climate change
In The News
Why sustainable water management needs a systemic solution

Ensuring that fresh water is available, in a sustainable...

Why sustainable water management needs a systemic solution
In The News
Integrating nature with technology to strengthen climate adaptation

The European Commission released the new EU Climate Adaptation...

Integrating nature with technology to strengthen climate adaptation
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC is a key player in helping Europe adapt to climate change

EIT Climate-KIC welcomes the new EU strategy on adaptation...

EIT Climate-KIC is a key player in helping Europe adapt to climate change
In The News
Edinburgh: building climate resilient infrastructure and communities

A labyrinth of cobblestone streets, dimly lit and presided...

Edinburgh: building climate resilient infrastructure and communities
In The News
Residents of Kessel-Lo, Belgium, are invited to shape the future of their neig...

EIT Climate-KIC is working with the city of Leuven...

Residents of Kessel-Lo, Belgium, are invited to shape the future of their neighbourhood
In The News
New accelerator programme geared towards systemic change secures key partners

Following its Open Call, the New Accelerator programme has...

New accelerator programme geared towards systemic change secures key partners
In The News
New videogame builds climate awareness among players

Change Game, a videogame financed by EIT Climate-KIC and...

New videogame builds climate awareness among players
In The News
Organic and homemade food brought to the dining rooms of large corporations

Carlota Mateos and Juan Vila, co-founders of PlenEat have...

Organic and homemade food brought to the dining rooms of large corporations
In The News
Climeworks added to Microsoft’s climate portfolio

EIT Climate-KIC supported Climeworks, a carbon capture technology, is...

Climeworks added to Microsoft’s climate portfolio
In The News
Circular Slovenia named in 100 Climate Policy Breakthroughs

The peer-to-peer learning platform for governments, Apolitical, included EIT...

Circular Slovenia named in 100 Climate Policy Breakthroughs
In The News
New tool uses satellite imagery to accelerate sustainable agriculture

Supported by EIT Climate-KIC and developed by its partner...

New tool uses satellite imagery to accelerate sustainable agriculture
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC at the Climate Adaptation Summit 2021

EIT Climate-KIC will be taking part in the Climate...

EIT Climate-KIC at the Climate Adaptation Summit 2021
In The News
Green Invest from Stuttgart and Start Park from Florence win Climathon Awards ...

A total of 140 teams of citizen finalists applied...

Green Invest from Stuttgart and Start Park from Florence win Climathon Awards 2020
In The News
Biden’s Opportunity for Reinventing Climate Innovation

Joe Biden will be sworn in today as 46th...

Biden’s Opportunity for Reinventing Climate Innovation
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC’s Open Accelerator: collaboration, not competition

It is no secret that to tackle climate change...

EIT Climate-KIC’s Open Accelerator: collaboration, not competition
In The News
New platform inspires sustainable Nordic wood construction

This week marks the launch of NoMuWood.com, an EIT...

New platform inspires sustainable Nordic wood construction
In The News
European Union launches Pact to support citizen-led climate action

On Wednesday 16 December, the European Commission is launching...

European Union launches Pact to support citizen-led climate action
In The News
“An avalanche of hope and energy”: The power of Paris

Our Climate Champions 2020: Melissa Capcha. Five years on...

“An avalanche of hope and energy”: The power of Paris
In The News
“Let’s find ways to take action within our abilities”

Our Climate Champions 2020: Gopal Kumar Mohoto. Five years...

“Let’s find ways to take action within our abilities”
In The News
“Climate change is outpacing us, there is no time for excuses”

Our Climate Champions 2020: Cristina Aleixendri Muñoz. Five years...

“Climate change is outpacing us, there is no time for excuses”
In The News
COP26 gives Scotland “a platform to showcase… what’s possible”

Our Climate Champions 2020: Kit England. Five years on...

COP26 gives Scotland “a platform to showcase… what’s possible”
In The News
COP26 might be postponed but “climate action cannot wait”

Our Climate Champions 2020: Melani Furlan. Five years on...

COP26 might be postponed but “climate action cannot wait”
In The News
A climate service for flood risk mapping in urban areas

The SaferPlaces project, supported by EIT Climate-KIC, has created...

A climate service for flood risk mapping in urban areas
In The News
Raising climate awareness through art in the Glasgow City Region

The Glasgow City Region uses arts as a means...

Raising climate awareness through art in the Glasgow City Region
In The News
Helping Europe achieve a circular economy transition

EIT Climate-KIC, EIT RawMaterials, EIT Digital, EIT Food, EIT...

Helping Europe achieve a circular economy transition
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC and EASME host WCEF event on circular economy

The World Circular Economy Forum brings together business leaders,...

EIT Climate-KIC and EASME host WCEF event on circular economy
In The News
Citizens across globe eager to contribute to a post-COVID recovery

Over 4,500 citizens from around the world will join...

Citizens across globe eager to contribute to a post-COVID recovery
In The News
Transformative climate action and COP26: Join our webinar

Are you working to deliver transformative change for a...

Transformative climate action and COP26: Join our webinar