GoGreenRoutes Malta Nature-Based Solutions Summer School

Ecostack Innovations has hosted the third Malta Nature-Based Solutions Summer School, this time funded by the Horizon 2020 project GoGreenRoutes. The Summer School was held at the Mediterranean Conference Centre, in Valletta, between the 29th of June and the 1st of July 2022.

The GoGreenRoutes project aims to sow the seeds for increased nature-connectedness across Europe, Latin America and China. The theme of the Malta 2022 Summer School was 360Health: Where Nature and Health Rhyme, because ensuring biological, psychological, social and environmental health, for all generations, is key to sustainable development.

The Summer School was opened by a keynote address from Hon. Dr Stefan Zrinzo Azzopardi MP, Malta's Minister for Public Works and Planning, who spoke about the vision of Malta's government to provide accessible green spaces and support enterprises working in favour of the environment and local communities.

Hon. Dr Katya De Giovanni, Member of Parliament and a Senior Lecturer in Psychology, discussed the link between the environment and human well-being and mental health.

In an addressed video, Malta's President Emeritus and the President of Eurochild, Hon. Dr. Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca, spoke about the need to address the needs of children for safe and green spaces in cities and for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Watch the address by Her Excellency Coleiro Preca below.

Mayor of Gzira Mr Conrad Borg Manche, who this year was co-hosting the Summer School, spoke about the challenges faced by the locality of Gzira and his vision for a locality in which spaces are used by communities rather than cars.

Dr. Annalisa Setti, University of College Cork, gave a keynote lecture and focused on answering five key questions on the link between nature and health. The whole morning was led by Prof. Tadhg Macintyre, environmental psychologist at Maynooth University, Ireland, and coordinator of the GoGreenRoutes project, and Dr. Mario V. Balzan, who gave a presentation about Nature-based Solutions and 360 Health context and challenges. The afternoon was dedicated to skills development and team building, and participants had the opportunity work in teams on problem-solving tasks relating to nature in cities.

During the second day, the participants had the opportunity to go on a field trip around St. Anne Street in Floriana, a central and heavily trafficked road that leads into Valletta, and participated in a series of challenges and tasks focusing on nature-based solutions and climate change resilience. Prof Giovanna Calogiuri, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, delivered a keynote lecture on Virtual Nature and its effects on well-being, while environmental Scientist Conor Kretsch, Maynooth University, led a workshop on policy brief preparation.

The third and final day started with inspiring and interactive talks about Thriving in Uncertainty by the psychologist Terry Morrissey, and about Social Media and Science by Frankie Boyd from Blooming Research. The remaining time was mainly dedicated to groups’ works’ presentations and closing remarks.

This three-day Nature-Based Solutions Summer School fostered a strong and multidisciplinary network of researchers and practitioners, and allowed early-career-researchers to collaboratively, in an interactive, fun and innovative way, develop solutions inspired by nature that address challenges faced by society.

This article was written by Maria Elena Bini, a member of the Ecostack Innovations Learning Ecosystem.

Ecostack Innovations is a partner in the GoGreenRoutes project. This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Innovation action programme under grant agreement no. 869764. The sole responsibility of the content of this website lies with Ecostack Innovations and in no way reflects the views of the European Union.