[Conference] Online Forum: URBiNAT holds webinar as part of 50th edition of Earth Day

April 25, 2020

On April 22nd, 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, an Online Forum was coordinated out of Muscat, Oman, gathering plus 20 participants from Europe, Asia and Africa around the following topic:   Measures to Counter Climate Change: What can we do as Individuals and Communities during the Corona Lock-Down”

The Forum was coordinated by Water and Humanity, partner in the Earth Day network, located in Muscat, Oman, which is an observer country of the URBiNAT project.  The event was supported by IKED, URBiNAT partner responsible for non-EU engagement.

The key discussions focused on three areas:

How can we make use of Online Resources in the era of social distancing?

What tools and enablers are available? Do we have the proper infrastructure and are citizens prepared for this digital engagement?

What can be done from the Home-base?

Improve energy, waste and water management -making consumption more sustainable and conscious. Planting and gardening when possible and applying new ideas in regard to food – preparation at home means often healthier. Which are our best practices of Nature Based Solutions at our home-base?

How do we bridge our new practices into the post-COVID area?

How can we plan for a sustainable future based on our new behaviours? Many citizens are convinced that they will not go back to “business-as-usual” when the lockdown is over – how do we bring new ideas and findings into the future?

Inspirational and engaging discussions continued during the two-hours long forum – a lot of information was shared both orally and in the chat-box. In principle all participants agreed that the current pandemic crisis does provide a momentum for change.

The list below displays a summary of the ideas and solution proposed for action:

  • At a time of obsession with immediate health issues, call attention to the longterm way of life, before, during and after the acute crisis
  • Collect and build idea-bank with practical proposals: “what-to-do” in daily life, in regard to managing waste, plant in your home, guerrilla gardening, and other ways and means of supporting sustainability
  • Take leadership bottom-up in working out interlinkages and partnership to inspire and build momentum in cooperation between communities, cities, small states
  • In days of isolation, boredom and lack of inspiration, develop new digital enablers for social rewarding of positive sharing (unrelated to commercial social media)
  • User-friendly apps with features encouraging physical exercise, saving water, reducing energy consumption, managing waste, creating home-cooked food, planting trees, and so forth (to be made available in, at least, English and Arabic)
  • Generate interest from, and engagement by, “unusual suspects”, e.g. “communities of interest”,e.g., via music, art, cooking
  • Respond to increased interest in food- and water-security by stimulating and linking consumers (demand) and supply (farmers) of eco-food, do away with sugar-rich beverages and support healthy alternatives, identify and act on other items with a strong bearing on health
  • Local and community action to let nature re-conquer urban areas/open up new “public” space, transforming social capital into nature capital. Also, in rewilding certain urban space, widening areas for wildlife habitat while creating “buffer zones” to humans
  • Develop creative means for having research inspire action, not only evidence-based but experimentally, testing, piloting, diffusing
  • Embrace health through Nature Based Solutions at home, the physical, mental and emotional benefits of plant growth within one’s surroundings.
  • Enable the public to interact with the protection of natural resources (old trees, forests, parks) and to participate indirectly in reforestation through “Adopt and grow a tree”, and similar programs

 A follow-up webinar is planned for the fall 2020, in order to collect examples of some actions which have been taken already by individuals and communities. Such concrete examples with specific relevance to NBS and the Healthy Corridor concept will be shared on the URBiNAT website, among the partners and the sister projects.