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Wed, 19/05/2021

How to successfully adopt Urban Living Labs?

UNaLab hosted a session on how to successfully adopt Urban Living Labs at the Nature of Cities Festival. The session explored the factors enabling the adoption of Urban Living Labs (ULLs) and the project saw 22 enthusiastic participants join the workshop to further discuss and evaluate these enablers.

The UNaLab project is committed to improving the sustainability and resilience of three European cities (Tampere, Eindhoven and Genova) through the implementation of nature-based solutions (NBS). To ensure that all urban stakeholders are involved in the development of the NBS, the project has used the Urban Living Lab methodology. Urban Living Labs are the orchestrators of this collaboration, bringing together the different stakeholders - companies, research institutions, the public sector and citizens - through co-creation. 

For more than three years, the project and the cities have been experimenting with ULLs, and during this time, various benefits of this methodology have been observed. However, adopting this approach has not always been so straightforward. The cities have experienced several barriers while adopting and implementing the ULLs. Different barriers - from political, and institutional, to knowledge and cognitive barriers - have been limiting the adoption of ULLs. Having a clear understanding of how these barriers are affecting the urban systems was found to be crucial to address them strategically. Therefore, a structural model of barriers has been developed to facilitate the strategic planning process. 

In this interactive session, the project aimed to see how the knowledge provided by the barriers model can help to prioritise actions and enablers for the adoption of ULLs for co-creating NBS, by using an impact/effort matrix. The impact/effort matrix is a decision making tool mainly used to prioritise actions, by considering both the potential impacts of the actions as well as the level of effort required to implement the actions. We provided the participants with 15 enablers which have been identified through a series of interviews and by reviewing relevant literature. The participants were divided into two groups: one impact group and one effort group. In the impact group, participants were asked to rate each enabler on a scale from 1 (least impact) to 10 (most impact), giving us their views of how impactful a certain action/enabler could be in a city. The participants in the effort group were asked to rate the enablers on a scale from 1 (least effort) to 10 (most effort), providing us with their views of how much effort the implementation of a certain action/enabler would require.

The results of the session showed that the enablers related to the knowledge and awareness of ULLs for co-creating NBS should be prioritised in the short-term, whereas the enablers that relate to the bureaucratic processes of cities should be more long-term. A more detailed analysis of the barriers and enablers will be provided in an upcoming deliverable from the UNaLab project, so stay tuned!