Two UIA projects working together to tackle urban challenges
What do the AIR-HERITAGE and the PUJ project have in common?
Nothing and everything!
The Prato Urban Jungle (PUJ) project aims to create urban jungles, that is integrate highly dense green areas into the urban landscape of Prato, in order to abate air pollution and restore unused and declining areas to benefit residents.
AIR-HERITAGE on the other hand aims to change the way local government in Portici assesses and reacts to air quality issues, by facilitating evidence-based policy making and influencing citizens mobility choices.
Therefore, both projects aim to tackle air pollution through promoting and implementing innovative solutions.
How did these two projects work together?
A joint webinar was organised in December 2020 by AIR-HERITAGE and Prato Urban Jungle, to highlight the importance of tackling air pollution and making cities greener. The webinar attracted participants from different target groups, including policy makers and citizens from both cities, who had the opportunity to learn more about the two projects, how these two cities are dealing with air quality issues, and exchange experiences and lessons learnt.
Urban green spaces have the ability to counteract air pollution, as vegetation and trees act as natural filters for air pollutants in urban environments. They also help cool urban areas and mitigate the urban heat island effect in cities, leading to less energy consumed for cooling and as such less air pollutants released at a local level. During the webinar the advantages of urban green spaces were explained, along with the activities that the city of Prato is implementing to seize the benefits. In parallel, AIR-HERITAGE activities were presented, with an emphasis on the importance of monitoring air quality for tackling air pollution.
During the discussion that followed participants exchanged ideas and discussed local problems, which made it clear that the two cities, although very different, face similar problems. In particular, Portici is a town, within the Metropolitan City of Naples, whilst Prato is a big city, located in the region of Tuscany, a region well known for its high quality of life, and strong health, environmental, and mobility policies.
What has AIR-HERITAGE gained from this collaboration?
The webinar inspired participants in various ways. Most importantly it highlighted the importance of urban forestry and planting, as well as of increasing green areas and public parks within the city so that people can meet and enjoy nature. It also introduced innovative solutions, for example, Prato is experimenting with green facades that helps envisage a different kind of a green city. These type of interventions are particularly relevant for Portici, where space for creating new green areas in the city is limited.
Inspired by the webinar, AIR-HERITAGE created a participatory map, that is an online tool in the form of a map, for citizens to use in order to identify degraded areas and propose green solutions for improving these. The participatory map can be accessed here.