A Green Infrastructure CityLab for London.
Presented at: 10th World Ecosystem Services Partnership Conference (ESP10), Hannover, Germany.
London is globally recognised as a city with strong sustainability aspirations; in part due to its proactive and progressive plans for urban green space. The ‘Green Infrastructure CityLab for London’ project aims to provide an opportunity for engaged discussion and debate between diverse actors involved in green space (green infrastructure) in the city. It is working to create an ongoing platform for strengthening connections and knowledge sharing, with implications for practice and potentially valuable insights for decision-making. Many groups contribute to the day-to-day creation, preservation and management of urban green spaces, but they rarely have an opportunity to come together to share successes or concerns, think creatively and collaboratively about what is/isn’t feasible and find opportunities to shift thinking/practice. The Green Infrastructure CityLab recognises that while there is an increasing body of knowledge and experience around the effective planning, development and management of urban green spaces, this is not always usefully available or accessible. There is a great potential for practice to be enriched by the sharing of knowledge and experiences, positive and negative. Starting these conversations is the first step in a bigger dialogue informing effective approaches and developing mutual insights and support. The activity sought to bring together a range of specialists and professionals in research, practice and policy and leveraged the skills and expertise of global partners from the Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO) in Johannesburg in the design and delivery. The CityLab model is a tested method for bringing together people from a range of backgrounds to develop a collective understanding and co-produce ideas and actions on a topic. It has been used successfully by GCRO to engage urban stakeholders around green infrastructure, resulting in technical reports, policy outputs and ongoing engagement. This contribution reflects on the process of scoping, designing and delivering the first CityLab as well as thoughts for future engagements. It reflects on the challenges and opportunities around creating a functional space for the open sharing of experiences to provide tangible benefits to practice, planning and implementation and to inform decision-making.
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