Final cluster event – GoGreenRoutes Final Conference

July 2024

The GoGreenRoutes final conference, held at Blue Point Brussels on July 2-3, 2024, brought together VARCITIES’ four sister projects (GoGreenRoutes, euPOLIS and IN-HABIT) to showcase our joint efforts and achievements in integrating nature with health to improve urban living. This collaborative event highlighted best practices, key impacts, and innovative solutions developed over the past four years, aiming to inspire future initiatives focused on nature-based solutions and health outcomes.

Over the past four years, the collaboration between GoGreenRoutes, euPOLIS, IN-HABIT, and VARCITIES has yielded significant results:

  • Urban Transformation: 21 European cities have implemented nature-based health solutions, directly involving 5 million citizens and establishing 21 local task forces to drive change.
  • Community Engagement: The projects have fostered strong community involvement, empowering residents to participate in co-designing and co-creating livable, inclusive urban spaces.
  • Strategic Partnerships: Alliances with local governance, NGOs, and other stakeholders have been crucial, ensuring the sustainability and scalability of the initiatives.

The 2-day event featured a diverse lineup of speakers and panel discussions, including notable figures such Mayor Marek Hattas of Nitra, and Europaen Commission’s officers working on Nature-based Solutions). Their insights emphasized the importance of combining nature and health to foster urban transformation.

Participants had the opportunity to engage with innovative technologies developed by the four projects, notably with a Virtual Reality Showcase, where our GoNature Game was demoed. These tools demonstrated practical applications of the research and innovations developed by the projects, providing attendees with hands-on experiences.

VARCITIES’ partners presented their work and insights:

  • Sara Van Rompaey and Eleni Goni (E2ARC), who lead the Visionary Solutions implementation Work Package, presented our portfolio of interventions and the lessons learned from the co-creation process together with five of our Pilot Cities Chania, Skelleftea, Gzira, Leuven and Novo Mesto
  • Wim Cofino (Prospex Institute) presented the underlying framework that supported our approach stakeholder participation in the Pilots, and highlighted several key takeaways with regards to gender, diversity and inclusion
  • Daniel Micallef and Kurt Calleja (University of Malta) went through the monitoring and evaluation framework we implement to measure our impact, notably the social benefits
  • Kevin Fleming (Inlecom) went through our main technical innovations and their upscaling and replication potential
  • Specifically, our main digital tools were presented by the team from DARTTEK and Koldo Azcona (IES) who respectively showcased the GoNature Game and the Health & Well-Being platform
  • Yoann Clouet (ISOCARP Institute) contributed to policy impact discussions, focusing on the need to promote nature, health and well-being into urban development beyond research and innovation project, notably through mainstreaming within regional and urban development funding.

Serving as our final clustering event, the GoGreenRoutes final conference successfully demonstrated the impactful results of integrating nature with health to transform urban environments. By bringing together practitioners, researchers, and innovators, the event fostered a rich exchange of knowledge and ideas, setting the stage for continued advancements in the field.

Our coordinator, Denia Kolokotsa (Technical University of Crete) declared following the event:

Lessons learned from the Visionary Solutions adoption focus mainly on the evolving mindset of cities and policymakers and show us that sustainable urban growth is not just a choice but a necessity for future resilience and prosperity.