As cities expand a green spaces retract, children living in urban spaces become ever more disconnected with the natural world. What is more, studies have shown that the lack of contact with nature is hindering their development. How can we facilitate their reconnection with nature?
As part of JUSTNature Project, a Webinar titled “Co-Designing NbS with Primary School Children” was held on the 3rd of April 2023 with the participation of Tannya Pico of ISOCARP Institute, Kurt Calleja, Mohamed Dauod and Edward Duca of the University of Malta, hosted by Luca Veress of ABUD. The webinar presented three different methodologies that could be used in the co-design process of nature-based solutions.
Based on the principle that everyone has the right to ecological space, including clean air, indoor and outdoor thermal comfort, as well as thriving biodiversity and ecosystems, JUSTNature Project aims to activate nature-based solutions in order to facilitate a just transition to low-carbon cities. One of the social innovations of the project is to promote nature-building potential in urban communities via co-design, involving not only professionals in the design process, but the end user as well. As a great example of this, a Local Stakeholder Workshop was held on 14 February 2023 in Szombathely, one of the six City Practice Labs of JUSTNature Project, for leveraging the common knowledge of the city’s residents and that of the stakeholders, including the local municipality. Following this, the children of Dési Huber István Elementary School in Szombathely will be involved in the design process of NbS as they will be the primary users of the newly designed places. This practice will allow the final beneficiaries to be involved in the design process of NbS.
The aim of the webinar was to present and assess potential methodologies for the involvement of children. The first methodology, called TiNi, was introduced by Tannya Pico of ISOCARP Institute. The widely acknowledged methodology comes from Latin America, emphasizing the importance of connecting with and taking care of nature. It relies on the idea of creating outdoor plots that children can design themselves, learning to take care of nature and to give back to the community as well.
The second methodology was presented by the consortium members of the University of Malta and is based on their experiences from the co-design workshop series of VARCITIES Project, where they were aiming to design a playscape together with the children. ABUD also introduced their involvement in Climate Competitions for children, where climate change and sustainability related tasks were developed specifically for primary school children.
After the individual presentations, members discussed the potential combinations and the inclusion of the different methodologies into the co-design workshop with the children in Szombathely. There was a consensus about keeping the co-design session as open as possible, making sure to let the children express their creativity. Consequently, it was also noted, that the creation of tangible and feasible design inputs is not too realistic, as the exercise is more of a creative edutainment session for the children.
In the future, we are very much looking forward to see an optimal methodology being devised and implemented for the inclusion of children in the design process.
News source: ABUD