European scheme launched to improve climate change resilience in schools

COOLSCHOOLS will analyse the ‘transformative impact of climate action in schools’ across major EU cities. 

A three-year study is underway, coordinated by the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (UOC), which will examine the potential gains of nature-based solutions to making school environments more resilient to the consequences of climate change. 

outdoor fountain near building

COOLSCHOOLS focuses on campuses in Brussels, Paris, Rotterdam and Barcelona, and will concentrate on developing climate shelters for staff and students. 16 partners are involved, including councils, universities, research centres, community groups, and international organisations. 

‘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,’ said Isabel Ruiz Mallén, project leader and a Ramón y Cajal researcher in the UOC’s Urban Transformation and Global Change Laboratory (TURBA), which studies socio-environmental and technological urban changes from a critical, interdisciplinary perspective.

Driven by a rise in the number and severity of heatwaves, droughts, and overall temperatures, concepts such as introducing more areas of greenery and shade, improving access to water and installing water features, and using more environmentally friendly, sustainable materials are among those at the centre of the work. 

The impact of such improvements on biodiversity, changes in land use, health and safety, and governance will be taken into account. As will the relationship between greening spaces in playgrounds and cognitive development, and increases in the number of pollinating insects. It is believed such transformative action in school environments can catalyse changes elsewhere in communities, including homes and public realms. 

‘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,’ added Ruiz Mallén. 

In related news, scientists recently called for ‘drought’ to be redefined as a term due to the exponential increase in prevalence of low and no-precipitation periods in many parts of the world. 

Image credit: Aubrey Odom-Mabey




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