Cities for life: fostering public participation in urban development with consideration for climate change

December 21: a training on public participation in urban development with consideration for climate change took place in St.Petersburg. We all wish to live in green and comfortable cities, breathe a clean air and drink clean water. Climate change may also change a lot about our cities’ infrastructure. How to adapt the city environment to these new conditions and reduce the city’s and its citizen’s climate impact? The answers to this are sought by experts as well as NGO activists and lay citizens.

Friends of the Baltic NGO and Ecocentrum, Ltd held the training, with expert support from ECOM Center for Expertise, and active participation of public initiatives, such as LaTEAM student collective (initiators of the Green Universities network), Velocipedization of St.Petersburg and the Youth Group of the Russian Socio-Ecological Union. The training was held within the Cities for Life campaign initiated by the international movement

Climate change is already felt in the city’s daily life. Weather cycles are not the same, the rainy season has become lengthier, as well as summer heat waves and draughts. In summer 2016, the lead on the storm water system was 4 times its usual average. Floods and inundations have become more frequent, as well as the issues with ice on the roads and coastal erosion. Healthcare specialists have noted a negative effect of lengthy heat and cold waves on the health of citizens. At the same time, the city itself contributes to climate change with GHG emissions from energy objects and transportation, and methane from landfills.

What may be done to make the city friendlier towards humans and the climate? Many cities go the green way and reduce the number of car transportation by means of developing metro systems, tramways and other mass transit, by developing green areas, strengthening coastal zones, transitioning to energy efficient technologies of building and construction, and by saving energy and incorporating clean energy sources.
In order to introduce changes like, for example, the protection and creation of new green zones, to develop public transportation and create bike lanes, one has to introduce changes into the core city documents, the Strategy of social and economic development and the city’s General development Plan.

This was the main focus of the training. With the help of an expert, the activists learned about how to justify the details of the proposed changes into the strategic social and economic documents, as well as how to address and describe territories and processes that are going to be influenced by the changes, whom to interact with of the city officials in order for the proposals to be taken into account when revising the strategic documents.
Specific examples were given a special focus, for example, the creation of green recreation areas (a public space) on the Gulf of Finland coast in Lomonosov, Mytny Dvor in the Central district, as well as the creation of bike lanes in the city center and on the southern coast of the city.
St.Petersburg is the first city in Russia that already has a model strategy of climate adaptation. At the same time, the city has a big reserve of GHG emissions reduction by means of energy efficiency in buildings, transport, and other areas of urban life.
Many European cities and cities of the neighboring countries have signed the Covenant of mayors and committed to significant emissions reductions. Among them are the cities and towns of Belarus, Armenia, Ukraine, Georgia, Tajikistan, etc. St.Petersburg has yet the chance to become the first Russian city to join the initiative.

Yandex citirovania