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Green and Blue Space Adaptation for Urban Areas and Eco Towns (GRaBS)
Start date: Aug 31, 2008, End date: Aug 30, 2011 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The Green and Blue Space Adaptation for Urban Areas and Eco Towns (GRaBS) project aims to improve the regional decision and policy making process in relation to the planning and development of new and existing urban areas in eight EU member states in the contect of climate change. Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are now at their highest for 3 million years and as a result urban areas are vulnerable to increased temperatures and flooding. Regional spatial planning and urban design can provide solutions to reduce vulnerability and risk. Green infrasructure including gardens, parks, productive landscapes, green corridors and green roofs and walls and blue infrastructure such as water bodies, rivers, streams, floodplains and sustainable drainage systems, play a vital role in creating climate resilient development, a role, which is currently not sufficiently recognised and utilised and lacks integration in main stream planning.There are 14 partners drawn from eight member states representing a broad spectrum of authorities, climate change challenges and with varying degrees of strategic policy and experience. The project facilitates the much needed exchange of knowledge and experience and the actual transfer of good practice on climate change adaptation strategies to local and regional authorities. In addition a climate change risks and vulnerability assessment tool will be produced through this interregional collaboration. Through stakeholder and community engagement, as well as the development of regional policy networks, partners will produce High Level Policy Statements and Climate Change Adaptation Action Plans to ensure climate resilient future development in their regions. In this process, partners will take part in thematic seminars, study visits, and a mentoring programme as well as apply the climate assessment tool in their own locality.A key outcome of GRaBS will be a user-friendly and easily transferable and replicable strategic planning methodology together with a vulnerability and risk assessment tool available to all European regional and local municipalities. The project will also deliver a database of good practice green and blue space adaptation approaches and Expert Papers for dissemination throughout Europe. By advancing the knowledge and expertise of partner staff, decisions makers, politicians and communities, regional and local municipalities will be able to make a more informed and strategic response to climate change adaptation. In the long term communities will reduce their vulnerability to the environmental, social and economic damage related to climate change impacts including extreme temperature increases and flooding incidents. Achievements: The "Green and Blue Space Adaptation for Urban Areas and Eco towns" (GRaBS) project aims to integrate climate change adaptation into regional planning and development. The key actions to set up the project were achieved by the end of 2008, including the signing of the Partnership Agreement and the establishment of Task Teams to coordinate the implementation of central project components (Communication and Dissemination, Adaptation Action Plans, the Climate Change Risk Assessment Tool, and Community Involvement). Throughout 2009, the GRaBS partners have made positive progress with the outputs of the project, particularly through the exchange of experience and expertise stemming from the first phase of the Mentoring Programme, and Study Visits to Malmo and Amsterdam. Mentoring visits were hosted by the Northwest Regional Development Agency, Southampton City Council and the London Borough of Sutton in the UK; Klaipeda University Coastal Research and Planning Institute in Lithuania; Etnambiente and the University of Catania in Sicily; the Province of Genoa in Italy; and REC Slovakia. In addition to understanding how each host partner was progressing with building adaptive capacity and delivering adaptation actions, a key aim of each visit was for partners to discuss and assist each other in the implementation of their SWOT Analyses, as part of developing their ‘Adaptation Action Plans’. Partners also had the opportunity to gain first-hand experience of the different climate challenges faced in the host partner region and gain technical expertise on some of the solutions. The identification of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in delivering adaptation actions was a significant stage in the development of partner AAPs. To date, three Project Steering Committee (PSC) meetings and associated study visits have been held - in London (November 2008), the City of Malmo (April 2009), and Amsterdam (November 2009). In Malmo, partners learnt of the adaptation challenges and gained first-hand experience of local innovative solutions and technologies including a visit to the Green Roof Institute. In Amsterdam, a ‘Climate Participation Conference’ was organised by the City District of Geuzenveld-Slotermeer for GRaBS partners and local politicians, officers and community groups, with presentations and workshops given on community involvement in adapting urban areas to the impacts of climate change. The AAP Task Team produced the guidance document for Adaptation Action Plans in a form to allow partners with different skills, planning systems and challenges to develop a plan. In tandem with this, partners researched and completed the 'User Needs and Requirements Analysis' questionnaires to enable the University of Manchester (UoM) to develop the Risk & Vulnerabilities Assessment Tool. The Tool prototype was introduced at a specialist workshop at PSC3, and will be piloted by partners in 2010. UoM, with assistance from the TCPA, circulated an online questionnaire to attract contributions for the Database of Good Practice Case Studies, and an encouraging response was received from a wide range of organisations and EU member states. The GRaBS project has been extensively promoted and disseminated through conferences, meetings, and presentations and it continues to receive extensive media coverage. All partners continue to disseminate the two editions of the GRaBS newsletter brochure and Expert Paper. The Member's area and News section of the GRaBS website ( are updated frequently and the – the intranet acts as a key resource for partners to access relevant documents and upload information about GRaBS activities. The project has received extensive media coverage during 2008/09, and partners continue to disseminate the two editions of the GRaBS Newsletter, Brochure, and first Expert Paper.

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