Green & blue (GB) was a big topic back in the USSR, and many ideas & designs even from the 1970s still appear very fresh. More interesting designs can be found across the former USSR (although not properly implemented and/or not maintained in most cases) while concepts, approaches and methods for the development of GB were extensively discussed in university textbooks. It can be however noticed that, although cities in formerly USSR countries, such as Belarus or Ukraine, are planned by people from the same school, one cannot see there anything as innovative. At the same time, new concepts, such as nature-based solutions (NBS) emerged over time, and one could expect them to evolve with the old school and yield exciting outcomes. This does not really happen, except several EU&UNDP funded pilots, and existing GB infrastructure declines, while new developments are controversial in terms of sustainability. V4 countries, having after the collapse of the Soviet bloc similar starting conditions in terms of urban planning policies and implementation strategies as Belarus and Ukraine did at the collapse of the USSR, nevertheless made a long way reflecting on their planning legacies and choosing developments paths. When it came to the development and management of GB infrastructure, there were both vivid success and failures; recent developments have focus on NBS, smart GB, participatory approaches and crowdsourcing. V4 experience is extremely useful to learn from for urban planning communities in Belarus and Ukraine in order to advance sustainability of its cities.
Our assumption is that basic knowledge is already in place in relevant academic and praxis communities in Belarus & Ukraine involved with GB development and management. However what is missing is an out-of-box perspective on policy, management- and technologyrelated problems of GB development and maintenance in these countries, as well as consistent understanding & vision of solutions that work. This can be addressed by adequate knowledge co-production and sharing, provided that the knowledge is useful and relevant, and different audiences are addressed through appropriate knowledge formats and communication instruments. The proposed knowledge sharing channels are stakeholder workshop, policy brief, academic papers (national & international), developed & piloted under- & postgraduate learning contents, and graduate + professional intensive training. GAP project partners represent V4 academic institutions with excellent expertise in a full range of issues related to the development and management of GB infrastructure as well as open society and academia in the EaP (Belarus and Ukraine) as well as one more post-USSR country (Estonia). They are fully qualified to explore the ways V4 countries coped with institutional and infrastructural legacies related to GB infrastructure in cities, run research to analyse relevant knowledge production and governance situations in Belarus and Ukraine, come up with critical reflections and policy recommendations. All the partners will be nearly equally involved to data collection & analysis, KKNU will host events and run educational pilots.
While the project targets such innovative instruments and concepts as deployment & dissemination of innovative urban planning & management and environmental concepts, such as nature-based solutions & GB infrastructure for more livable cities, it also will deliver added value (compared to existing projects) by:
V4 region has undergone difficult times of socio-economic transformation and many its experiences are worth sharing and underlying, both in order to learn how to achieve success as well avoid mistakes. While there were many similarities across the V4 region, its different countries chose distinctive pathways that demonstrated a broad range of approaches to improving liveability of its cities, and therefore involvement of all the V4 countries in this project represents an outstanding value. Development and management of GB infrastructure in V4 countries and starting development of NBS are the experiences that can be often regarded as commendable ones, and their regional and worldwide promotion. In addition to the objective of disseminating V4 experience internationally and in the EaP, the project will also contribute, through its analysis and reflection over the cases from across the whole V4 region, to the consolidation of V4 expertise and better understanding of regional & national management and policy contexts for the development and exploitation of GB infrastructure and liveable green cities. The project will also strengthen scholarly networking within the region, and reach academic and open society institutions in Belarus and Ukraine, thus paving the path to future cooperation and improving people-to-people contacts.