Project Management

Partnering for Sustainable Progress: Part 1

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Partnering for Sustainable Progress: Part 1

Partnering for Sustainable Progress

"COOLSCHOOLS aims to investigate the kind of opportunities provided by the projects being carried out in playgrounds and school environments in Barcelona, Brussels, Paris and Rotterdam," according to Isabel Ruiz Mallén, project leader, and a Ramón y Cajal researcher in the UOC's Urban Transformation and Global Change Laboratory (TURBA).

The European COOLSCHOOLS project will investigate social strategies to respond to the challenges of climate change and to improve the quality of life of citizens and of children, in particular. The project is actually a three-year study conducted by the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC).

It examines the transformative potential of nature-based solutions in school environments by creating initiatives such as climate shelters in schools. In line with the theme of this blog post, 16 partners are involved in this project, including European municipal councils, universities, research centers, social associations and cooperatives, and international organizations.

The project’s outcomes will be a better understanding of the factors and potential of these initiative for “driving socio-ecological changes towards urban sustainability, climate resilience, social justice and quality education, and to make the educational community a driving force in municipal districts”.

The projects will focus on increasing green and shaded areas, using more sustainable and environmentally friendly materials and/or will provide greater access to water.

 Barcelona as an example

In the specific case of Barcelona, the projects will investigate actions to deal with the effects of rising temperatures and increasingly frequent heatwaves will be studied with the expansion of green areas and shaded areas, and the installation of water fountains in school playgrounds and premises.

"The solutions that are being adopted aim to protect children against these and other risks arising from climate change, and to improve the schools' adaptation to this new situation," said Ruiz Mallén, who emphasized that the idea is to consolidate spaces in which students can "learn and feel comfortable" in a context of rising temperatures, and to minimize the impact of greenhouse gas emissions on these educational environments.


Combining disciplines and bringing partners together

The researchers are going to study the combination of all these interventions from a multidisciplinary approach. As a result, they will take into account the impact on biodiversity of changes in land use, and also consider health, safety, and governance. "Starting this research will enable us to evaluate aspects such as the relationship between greening spaces in playgrounds and the students' cognitive development, the increase in pollinating insects, and the access to and use of these climate shelters by the community, among many other issues," said Ruiz Mallén. "We are also going to investigate the potential of changes in education. With all the knowledge that is generated from the different perspectives, we will be able to produce guides and applications to make the most of its potential both in terms of inclusiveness and improved wellbeing, and take advantage of learning opportunities in terms of climate resilience."

COOLSCHOOLS has received funding of more than €1.5 million from the European JPI Urban Transformation Capacities (JPI Urban Europe) fund, in which the Spanish State Research Agency (AEI) is participating.

 As mentioned in the first post in this series, this is highly connected to the UN SDGs.

This UOC research supports Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 3, Good Health and Well-being; 4, Quality Education; 11, Sustainable Cities and Communities; and 13, Climate Action.

Source for this post, and credit for this work:


Posted by Richard Maltzman on: March 27, 2022 11:16 PM | Permalink

Comments (1)

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Thank you for this article and this work. As an employee in an urban school district, I am very interested in what your research yields and, of course, how I can get this information into the right hands to benefit our students.

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