With each year, challenges grow in supplying water globally. This is why expert stakeholders in the field of circular water are working to widen and enhance nature-based solutions (NBS), knowledge and implementation for the reuse of water and mitigation of pollution and run-off. Although achieving these aims involve many technical considerations, the all important human element of co-creating nature-based solutions should not be overlooked.
At a recent cross-cutting dialogue in the context of the NICE NbS, of which ICLEI Europe takes part in, experts presented on the topic of circular water, co-creation, and knowledge exchange, leaving space for participants to inquire further on best practices in the field of citizen participation.
During her presentation Daiane Trevisan of CETIM reflected wisely that among the roles and responsibilities of NICE, the endeavour is more than just a project. “NICE is an opportunity to develop innovative nature-based solutions for a more sustainable water cycle”.
In order to more effectively achieve the goals of co-creation for circular water, public participation is paramount. Marina Gentle of LISODE, an organisation which assists local governments, researchers and more to facilitate dialogue with end users, gave more insight to the meaning of public participation and tips and tricks towards more effective collaboration with citizen stakeholders, including proper communication and including end-users in the co-design process.
Among the many lessons presented, a clear key message is that co-creative discussions should have clear facilitation, meaning a designated contact who engages only in furthering dialogue of the participants, remains neutral, and has clear intentions to retain fairness and increase public impact.
Lastly, Magdalena Gajewska of Gdańsk University of Technology presented a case study of co-creative work on circular water in Gdańsk (Poland). In Gdańsk, the municipality was hit by two strong floods, which left an impact on the way citizens thought about flood mitigation. Local stakeholders came together to include the public for decisions on how the city would protect Gdańsk against future floods including creating rain gardens. Over time, citizen awareness has increased substantially, with citizens even taking proactive leadership over the creation of their own rain gardens.
It is clear that when citizens are made a part of the co-design process, opportunities for innovative co-creation in NBS flourish!
Learn more about the NICE project here.
Read more about the discussion here.