Last week, Nature Smart Cities partners met in the UK for the first physical partner management meeting since 2019. The meeting started in Southend-on Sea. The first day gave partners the opportunity to discuss the status of the 7 green infrastructure pilots, the development of strategic commitments, communications opportunities, and progress on the much-awaited business model.
On the morning of Day 2, project partners were given a tour of the City of Southend-on-Sea, including a stop at the Launchpad Innovation Centre on the airport business park. The Nature Smart Cities pilot in Southend has supported the contribution of green infrastructure to this new development and partners were able to see the progress made to date in installing the green roof, swale, meadow, permeable paving and other green infrastructure features. The group were able to reflect on the results generated by our Business Model which shows the inclusion of these features will significantly increase water retention, enhance biodiversity, cool the surrounding air temperature and serve as an attractor for new sustainably minded businesses. There was then time for a quick visit to Southend’s world-famous pier before the partners travelled onto Cambridge for the second part of the meeting hosted by Cambridge City Council.
On arriving in Cambridge, partners were taken to locations across the city to see the progress that has been made in tree planting through Cambridge City Council’s pilot, the Cambridge Canopy Project. The partners also contributed a lasting ‘green’ mark to the city by planting a tree on Jesus Green, replacing a plane tree that was lost to Storm Ciara in February 2020. The day concluded with a punting trip on the River Cam to see some of the oldest green spaces in the City maintained by the colleges of the University of Cambridge.
Day 3, saw the partners back in the meeting room to discuss next steps for the role out of the projects Capacity Building Programme and ensuring the future legacy of the project, before the meeting was brought to a close.