On 2 March, Southend City Council successfully led an online workshop on building climate resilience with over 30 local authorities taking part. 54 officers from 33 UK local authorities participated in the first workshop of the Nature Smart Cities UK Capacity Building Programme.
The Nature Smart Cities project is a European funded programme (Interreg 2 Seas) led by Southend-on-Sea City Council and brings together local authorities from the UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands to help deliver urban greening projects.
The project explores how urban greening initiatives help local areas reduce the future impacts of climate change. Research has shown that increased amount of green space can:
The workshop introduced participants to the Nature Smart Cities Business Model, which local authorities can use to justify the cost of delivering urban greening projects, and provided participants with an opportunity to look 'under the bonnet' to see how it works and can be used.
The programme started with a keynote presentation from Polly Billington, CEO of UK100, a network of local government leaders focussed on clean energy. Polly spoke about how local area-led approaches to urban greening can help the UK meet its climate and biodiversity targets. This was followed by a presentation on the experiences of local authorities in delivering green infrastructure for climate resilience. Phil Back, independent consultant, then gave a demonstration of the business model and how it allows users to review the value urban greening provides across multiple ecosystem services, such as recreation, biodiversity, water storage, flood management, and air quality. Participants also took part in interactive groupwork exercises where fictious scenarios were used to get hands-on experience and explore aspects of the business model.
Cllr Carole Mulroney, cabinet member for environment, culture, tourism and planning, said: "The council has a crucial role to play in leading climate change action across Southend-on-Sea. I am delighted that we are also playing a leading role in bringing together local authorities from across the UK, and even Europe, because we are all on this journey together. Everybody will have a role to play and workshops like this highlight the positive impact of collaboration."
A recording of the plenary section of the first UK workshop is available to view online.
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