EcoZones: Catalyzing transformations from the neighborhood scale


Solution Category: Resilience 4 Cities

Background and Objective

The Wuppertal Institute, together with UN-Habitat and partners, use participatory methodologies and offer a scale for experimentation to increase the understanding of and support for linkages between sustainable and resilient urban mobility, public spaces, nature-based solutions and waste management in local development. This project is set in two pilot cities: Belo Horizonte, Brazil, and Quito, Ecuador. EcoZones are a practical concept to implement integrated low-cost and low-carbon solutions to urban climate and sustainability challenges based on community needs and holistic-systemic urban planning for green recovery and climate change mitigation at the neighbourhood level.

Actions and Implementation

The EcoZone approach seeks to empower citizens to have an impact in local their community, raise awareness around and increase the collective knowledge of sustainable urban development and its socioenvironmental impacts. Implementation is composed of the following elements: 1.Context-based: Building on the needs and ongoing activities of local stakeholders 2.Participatory: Interventions are co-designed and implemented with citizens 3.Multi-stakeholder and intra/inter-institutional approach: Connecting different stakeholders working on similar projects to identify synergies 4.Neighbourhood level: Working on small-scale pilots at the neighbourhood level that are low-cost, participatory and easily replicable at larger scales 5.Intersectoral: Integrating different sectors for a higher impact and understanding of climate change mitigation and adaptation 6.Circularity: establishing circular city functions and services, and innovative business models, creating an effective framework for urban regeneration. 7.M&E: Monitoring and evaluating the impacts of the implemented activities to adapt, improve and replicate the pilots. A comprehensive assessment to convert temporary interventions into permanent ones that include community approval is carried out. The EcoZones to be implemented include the following dimensions: Mobility & public space A tactical urbanism approach is a great tool to reclaim space from cars for pedestrians and cyclists at the neighbourhood level, and provide them with safer spaces for commuting and recreation. This can also raise awareness within the community about the environmental, health, social and economic benefits of non-motorised transport. COVID-19 mitigation measures COVID-19 has deeply challenged urban mobility and economic systems worldwide. However, sustainable alternatives for public and private motorised transport have emerged in cities around the globe through a focus on walking and cycling. These allow for physical distancing, and strengthen population health. Nature-based Solutions (NbS) and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) The EcoZone framework was designed to harness and implement NbS at local scale, reducing environmental impacts while helping surrounding areas to improve urban resilience in the face of climate and natural disaster risks. In selecting adaptation/DRR options, ecosystem solutions are usually more adaptive, cost-effective and easier to maintain, and provide more value to society compared to conventional solutions such as built infrastructure. Waste Management Within the EcoZone concept, local stakeholders engage with communities to increase awareness for source separation and support initiatives working with circular principles and highlighting the value of waste, like neighbourhood composting programmes, upcycling and recycling initiatives. It explores synergies, for instance by applying innovative sustainable mobility solutions to waste collection, or through placemaking activities integrating aspects of awareness-raising around recycling.


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Climate Action Solution Category

Resilience 4 Cities

Sustainable Development Goals

Goal 13 - Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts

New Urban Agenda Commitments