This Zoom-In collects in a video the testimonies of the main actors involved in the UPPER project, with both representatives of all the partners and main stakeholders. 

UPPER aimed at solving local urban challenges such as the lack of security and maintenance of local city parks, the fragile ecosystem of city canals and rivers due to the high concentration of water pollutants and hydrogeological risk due to the lack of maintenance. Moreover, the project sought to provide solutions concerning the issues of shortage of public economic resources, lack of coordination among public and private actors as well as dispersion of specialized skills that hamper the city’s capacity to address ecosystems' recovery and long-term maintenance of its green and blue infrastructures.

The project tested an innovative use of urban green areas, by creating the first urban Productive Parks devoted to research, development and self-production of Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) to tackle the above-mentioned environmental, socio-economic and governance challenges. It proposed a wider approach to the concept of NBS, which include greenery and green infrastructures as well as innovative outdoor services and activities (i.e. social care, inclusive jobs, training, education, sports, creativity and entertainment).

The Productive Parks were co-designed and co-managed by project partners with local citizens and stakeholders. The project also foresaw the creation of Demonstration Sites for the deployment and testing of the self-produced NBS. Finally, the project supported the creation of social enterprises and profit startups to ensure market exploitation, further development and upscaling of the Productive Parks.

The short interviews reflect what UPPER succeeded to develop for each participant. The project was notably able to improve local sustainable economic and cultural development, and enhance institutional capacity, multilevel governance and planning capacity. Representative of local associations and stakeholders also explain how the project increased citizens participation, environmental awareness, as well as a sense of belonging and ownership of urban green spaces as a common good. Moreover, UPPER created new skills and business opportunities for local inhabitants and enterprises, and it contributed to reduce social exclusion and risk of poverty for marginalized people. The project ensured the active participation of all the members of the project consortium, but was also able to involve schools, businesses, cooperatives and local associations who gave a fundamental contribution to its success.

UPPER was concluded in August 2023 but, as you can hear from the participants, what has been initiated by the project and its benefits will last for a long period contributing to the municipality development, the improvement of its environment as well as to the creation of new job opportunities and social cohesion.

The Zoom-In video can be watched here: https://vimeo.com/860107023  

About this resource

Guido Mattei
Latina, Italy Small and medium-sized cities (50k > 250k)
About UIA
Urban Innovative Actions

The Urban Innovative Actions (UIA) is a European Union initiative that provided funding to urban areas across Europe to test new and unproven solutions to urban challenges. The initiative had a total ERDF budget of €372 million for 2014-2020.

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