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GreenInCities Kick-Off Meeting: NeuroLandscape in Barcelona

  • Day 1: Introduction to GreenInCities and Nature-based Solutions

NeuroLandscape was proud to participate in the Kick-Off meeting of the project Demonstrating Holistic Data-driven Co-Creative Approaches in Nature-based solutions towards Climate Adaptation and Mitigation (GreenInCities) (Project ID: 101139730) in Barcelona, Spain. This groundbreaking EU-funded project GreenInCities, brings together experts to revitalize disadvantaged neighborhoods and fight climate change. Their weapon of choice? Nature-based solutions (NbS) for urban regeneration (European Commission, 2023).

Day 1: El Besòs Takes Center Stage (GreenInCities Pilot Area)

El Besòs, a Barcelona district, was chosen as a GreenInCities’ pilot cities. The morning began with a warm welcome by the local leaders, including Mayor Filo Cañete. With much enthusiasm, they discussed their shared objective of achieving climate neutrality by 2030, echoing the ambitious goal set by the Barcelona City Council.

GreenInCities’ core values connected deeply with their mission, particularly:

  • Inclusive Development: Bringing disadvantaged communities into the fold as active participants in shaping their green future.
  • Environmental Stewardship: Recognizing the inherent value of ecosystems and actively promoting the value of biodiversity in cities, through its contribution to human health.
  • Tech-Powered Transformation: Leveraging cutting-edge approaches like neurourbanism and mental health digital twins to guide urban renewal.

In the afternoon, we explored El Besòs further. We toured Parc del Fòrum and the charming La Catalana neighborhood alongside Francesc Romero Siles of Consorci del Besòs, who was our guide. He pointed areas of interest targeted for regeneration, such as the beach and the natural landscape. Later,  LAND hosted a workshop that used an animal-centric approach to connect participants with local flora and fauna. In this way, we explored the importance of shared responsibility for the local ecosystem’s well-being. The day ended with a visit to the inspiring Nau de Turbines, a former power plant undergoing transformation into a vibrant cultural hub.

Day 2: Fostering Collaboration and Innovation at Valldaura Labs

Valldaura Labs, nestled amidst the beautiful green landscape of Barcelona’s Collserola Natural Park, provided a peaceful setting for Day Two. The day was filled with interactive workshops and engaging discussions among our GreenInCities team. We shared our knowledge and found new ways of working together. One workshop, led by Linköping University and Universidade do Porto, had us explore potential connection between representatives from “leader” and “follower” pilot cities. Another session focused on exploring the perspectives of diverse stakeholders in making impactful decisions that affects both citizens and the environment. The highlight of the day was a visit to the #FabLab, a treasure of innovative sustainable urban design solutions. The award-winning TOVA greenhouse stood out as a testament to the power of sustainable design principles.

Day 3: Building Partnerships and Charting the Course Forward

The final day’s activities were held at the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia (IAAC) Atelier in Poblenou. During the City Twinning Workshop, the consortium made the final decisions on the pairing of the “follower” cities with their “front-runner” counterparts. These included:

  • Birštonas will twin with Nova Gorica and Barcelona
  • Matosinhos will twin with Prato and Nova Gorica
  • Cork will twin with Helsinki and Athens
  • Pécs will twin with Helsinki and Barcelona
  • Reykjavik will twin with Nova Gorica, Prato and Athens

NeuroLandscape: Measuring the Impact of Green Cities

While GreenInCities prioritizes aesthetics and environmental benefits, it is crucial not to forget the impact of green environments on human well-being. This is where NeuroLandscape comes in. On Day 3, we presented Muse2, a portable neuroimaging device. This EEG technology allows us to assess, in real time, the impact of environmental changes on user well-being.

GreenInCities has officially begun its journey. NeuroLandscape is excited to be part of the team to measure the positive impact of Nature-based solutions on European citizens.

Stay tuned for updates on more GreenInCities news!

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GreenInCities project: Reshaping Urban Well-Being through Nature-Based Solutions 

The GreenInCities project tackles the challenge of bringing nature-based solutions to deprived urban areas to improve mental well-being. Learn how NeuroLandscape is contributing with innovative assessment methods.

As urban areas expand and crowding surges, accessing green spaces has become increasingly challenging. The issue goes beyond aesthetics; studies consistently link access to nature with improved mental and physical well-being. However, existing efforts to regreen these urban spaces often prioritize affluent, tourist-heavy areas, leaving behind disadvantaged neighborhoods across Europe (European Commission, 2023).

Introducing: The GreenInCities project

The GreenInCities project, funded by Horizon Europe, aims to address this gap. Launched in January 2024, GreenInCities brings together a consortium of experts to redefine urban regeneration strategies for deprived areas. The four-year project focuses on developing, implementing, and monitoring Nature-based Solutions (NbS), effectively bridging urban planning with ecological sustainability. 

GreenInCities adopts a comprehensive approach to urban regeneration, prioritizing the mental health needs of the cities and residents involved. The project leverages innovative tools and methodologies, including, but not limited to:

  • Augmented Reality (AR): This technology enables the pre-visualization of landscape changes, facilitating community engagement and informed decision-making.
  • Mobile Electroencephalography (mEEG): mEEG assesses the impact of NbS interventions on the mental health of local communities.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI): AI plays a crucial role in optimizing planning and analysis, tailoring NbS efforts to the specific needs of each city.

These cutting-edge techniques ensure that regreening efforts seamlessly integrate into urban environments while remaining adaptable to meet the unique needs of each city and its residents.

 

GreenInCities: Objectives and Outcomes 

The GreenInCities project boasts a variety of specific objectives, all designed to amplify the impact of NbS for all stakeholders, from policymakers to citizens. Through collaborative efforts and a multidisciplinary approach, the project endeavors to achieve the following: 

  • Establish an Online Repository: This repository contains existing NbS implementations to serve as a valuable reference point for project activities.
  • Develop a Sustainable Renaturing Toolbox: This toolbox will comprise assessment methodologies and decision-making processes aligned with the goals and key indicators of local stakeholders, such as regional urban planning strategies.
  • Create Renaturing Guidelines: These guidelines, based on an evaluation matrix, will guide the implementation and maintenance of NbS across diverse sites.
  • Design Collaboratively a Data Infrastructure and Management System: This system will manage the data collected from greening initiatives across partner cities.
  • Co-Develop and Validate Predictive Tools: These tools, using the data collected by multimodal sensors, will facilitate pre- and post-intervention assessments to measure the effectiveness of NbS interventions.
  • Utilize Advanced Immersive Technologies: The project will leverage Augmented Reality to visualize changes in pilot areas before and after interventions, enabling proactive insights and adaptive planning for maximizing the positive impacts of NbS efforts.

NeuroLandscape’s Contribution to GreenInCities 

NeuroLandscape (NL) is proud to be part of this groundbreaking project. Our involvement demonstrates our commitment to advancing regreening efforts through a “human-in-the-loop” approach. We aim to ensure these initiatives benefit the entire ecosystem, from those initiating regreening efforts to the end users – the citizens who witness these positive transformations in their daily lives. 

Within the project’s scope, NL will develop a methodology for assessing citizens’ mental health before (pre) and after (post) regreening interventions. This methodology will leverage advanced neuroscience tools such as mobile Electroencephalography (mEEG). Once developed, the methodology will be disseminated within the consortium and implemented through field studies in at least three pilot European cities where regreening initiatives will take place. 

Building upon these assessments, NL will create a “mental health digital twin.” This innovative concept involves the development of automated pre/post measurements for regreening interventions using machine learning methods. This eliminates the need for direct measurements on human subjects while harnessing the predictive capabilities of AI to forecast the impact of NbS interventions on mental well-being.

Our involvement in GreenInCities represents a significant step forward for our organization, solidifying our commitment to advancing urban regreening initiatives through innovative approaches. We are dedicated to making a positive impact on the broader community by promoting mental health and environmental well-being in urban areas.

Want to learn more about how GreenInCities is transforming urban landscapes and improving lives?

Visit the project website or follow us on social media (Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn) for updates!

 

Keywords: Urban greening, nature-based solutions (NBS), mental health, well-being, deprived urban areas, equitable regeneration, Horizon Europe project, mobile EEG, machine learning, digital twin, citizen engagement, sustainable cities.

(GreenInCities Project (2024). Project Ref# HORIZON-MISS-2023-CLIMA-CITIES-01 grant agreement No 101139730. https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/101139730)

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CLM workshop in Singapore

19-20 February 2024, in Singapore took place first hand-on workshop on the practical application of the Contemplative Landscape Model, led by Dr Agnieszka Olszewska-Guizzo and organized by National Parks Board.

“From Theory to Practice with Contemplative Landscape Model” workshop included lectures, interactive landscape walks, expert evaluation exercises as well as the hands-on CLM design exercise.

CLM expert evaluation, with the participants of the workshop
Workshop participants rating landscape setting.

Participants of the workshop were landscape architects, architects and professionals involved with green space planning in Singapore. They represented the National Parks Board (NParks), Housing & Development Board (HDB), JTC Corporation and Changi Airport Group. They all expressed genuine interest in learning more about how to apply the CLM in their work.

DAY 1
9:00Introducing Contemplative Landscape Model:
· Scientific background and objectives
· Main findings from neuroscience research
7 key-components of CLM:           
1. Landscape Layers + Quiz
10:30  Coffee break
10:402. Landform + Quiz
3. Biodiversity + Quiz
4. Color & Light + Quiz
5. Compatibility + Quiz
6. Character of Peace and Silence + Quiz
12:00   Lunch break
13:00Continuation 7 key-components of CLM:         
7. Archetypal Elements + Quiz  
14:00Salutogenic values of the parks and gardens & mechanisms of health delivery:
·Physical Activity for Health
· Social Benefits of Green Spaces
· Connection with nature, active and passive
· How to unlock the highest potential?
14:50Coffee Break
15:00Attention Restoration Theory (ART), Stress reduction Theory and Biophilia Hypothesis
·Identifying landscape features for health delivery in space (landscape walk)
16:00Deepening your visual perception (landscape walk)   
·Landscapes from phenomenological and user-centric perspectives
·Expert vs. layman eye conundrum
·Visual quality analysis and effective scenic resource management
·Spatial considerations and exposure for optimal visual engagement
DAY 2
9:00 Precision and objectivity in CLM landscape scoring
· Digital representation (photo, videos) group scoring exercise with case studies)
· Navigating spatial variety: CLM applicability to different green, blue and gray-space typologies
10:30  Coffee break
10:40CLM scoring considerations (interpretation & examples)
CLM scoring and design in real-life scenes (interactive landscape walk)
12:00  Lunch break
13:00Collaborative Creation of CLM-Inspired Spaces
Design a CLM space – 3 sites
Presentation of design solutions (15 min/team)
15:30Coffee break
15:40
16:30
Cross-evaluation with CLM by another team
Summary of work
Final quiz

One of NeuroLandscape’s missions is to actively inform more professionals on how to utilise the CLM tool to assess and design mentally healthy green spaces.

A great resource to use for those who cannot attend the next workshop is a book “Neuroscience for Designing Green Spaces: Contemplative Landscapes” available here.

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Nature, mental health, and equity. Highlights from the kick-off meeting of the GreenME project

The GreenME project will study how exposure to nature can be integrated in healthcare systems to treat and improve mental health for all.

It officially launched its ambitious initiative at the Kick-off meeting held in Barcelona from January 29th to 31st, 2024. Hosted by the Open University of Catalunya (UOC) and
coordinated by the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), the event brought together over 60 consortium members, including the esteemed Advisory Board members, the European Commission’s
project officer Patrizia Tenerelli, and researchers from sister projects (RESONATE and NATURELAB).

During this three-day event, participants had the opportunity to get to know each other and the passion that drives them, while visualising the unique contributions they will make to the project over the next
four years.

Researchers, therapy providers, and municipalities representatives worked together to address the challenges of the project via an insightful collective hands-on exercise, listing burning questions and
providing answers leading to a half-day exchange to identify ways forward. In between sessions, the participants recharged their minds and bodies with walks in nearby parks, mindfulness exercises, and a mandala-making outdoor activity, concretely experiencing how nature benefits mental health. Fun activities engaged the lively consortium; participants were asked to find clever solutions to build Kapla structures using just one finger or to tell their stories through a photographic language exercise!

This Kick-off meeting saw the robust collaboration and exchange of ideas with sister projects RESONATE and NatureLAB, operating under the overarching theme of mental health, nature, and sustainability. The anticipated collaboration is poised to drive forward pioneering research and foster transformative outcomes within the realm of nature-health interactions. Moreover, the Research Synergies workshop held during the Kick-off meeting facilitated dynamic exchanges with researchers from other scientific projects, including BlueHealth, GoGreenRoutes, Dr. FOREST, and PHENOTYPE. By fostering interdisciplinary collaboration, GreenME aims to accelerate progress towards building just resilient and sustainable healthy communities.

A core tenet of the GreenME initiative is the empowerment of green care actors and stakeholders. Recognizing the pivotal role of community involvement in shaping sustainable healthcare solutions, GreenME is committed to actively engaging with and empowering stakeholders throughout the project lifecycle. By fostering partnerships and amplifying the voices of green care advocates, GreenME seeks to cultivate a more inclusive and impactful approach to mental health and well-being. As GreenME embarks on this transformative journey, the consortium is poised to drive forward cutting-edge research, innovation, and collaboration to advance the understanding and integration of nature-based interventions in mental healthcare.

The GreenME Consortium:

In a trans-disciplinary partnership, GreenME involves six European countries, together with the UK
and theUS. GreenME is led by the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB – Barcelona, Spain) and
the GreenME consortium is composed of:

  1. University of Bologna (Bologna, Italy),
  2. Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (Sveriges Lantbruksuniversitet - Uppsala, Sweden),
  3. ILS Research (Research Institute for Regional and Urban Development - Dortmund, Germany),
  4. Warsaw University of Life Sciences (SGGW – Warsaw, Poland),
  5. Open University of Barcelona (UOC – Barcelona, Spain),
  6. Old-Continent (Brussels, Belgium),
  7. NeuroLandscape Foundation (Warsaw, Poland),
  8. Gesellschaft für Gartenbau und Therapie (GGuT – Hückeswagen, Germany),
  9. Institute of Psychiatry and Neurology (IPIN – Warsaw, Poland),
  10. Scandinavian Nature and Forest Therapy Institute & SHINRIN-YOKU (Stockholm, Sweden),
  11. Eta Beta Cooperativa Sociale (Bologna, Italy),
  12. City of Herne (Herne,Germany),
  13. Spanish Association of Horticulture and Social and TherapeuticGardening (AEHJST – Madrid, Spain),
  14. University of Kent (Kent, UK),
  15. University of Salford (Salford, UK),
  16. Social Farms and Gardens (Bristol, UK) and
  17. Mind in Bexley and East Kent LTD (London, UK),
  18. The US partner is Oregon Health & Science University Portland State University School of Public Health (OHSU-PSU — Portland, Oregon).

The project will last 4 years and is funded by the Horizon Europe research and innovation programme of the European Union.

For more information about GreenME and its initiatives, please visit https://greenme-project.eu
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Urban Solutions and Sustainability R&D Congress 2023, Singapore

Date: 4 - 5 October (Wed & Thu), 2023

Venue: Sands Expo and Convention Centre

 

The Congress was divided into several breakout sessions, out of which this specific one dedicated to mental health and well-being promotion through contact with urban nature. Below are the descriptions of speakers and talks. Among them our own Dr Agnieszka Olszewska-Guizzo. More details can be found at the Congress website.

Liveability: Nature and Well-being

This session brought together various speakers from the public sector and research spheres, to highlight leading areas of research and application in advancing nature-based solutions for health and well-being, as part of Singapore’s overall transformative efforts under its “City in Nature” vision.

Prof Tan Puay Yok
Chief Science & Technology Officer and Director, Singapore Botanic Gardens
National Parks Board (NParks)
Professor, College of Design and Engineering
National University of Singapore (NUS)

Topic: The Salubrity of Urban Nature: From Patterns to Mechanisms

There is probably a universal acceptance that nature in cities provides numerous benefits for urban dwellers. Among these, the health benefits from urban nature is a recurring and long-standing theme across different disciplines, from landscape architecture to urban planning, to human geography and public health planning. This is reflected in the increasing number of scholarly articles on this topic published over the last two decades. Such a recognition of the salubrious benefits of nature that cuts across cultures, however, can be said to be a rediscovery of old knowledge. For instance, more than two thousand years ago, Hippocrates said “Nature itself is the best physician”.

In Chinese culture, the idea of “天人合一” promotes the practice of harmony between human and nature as a way of living and an ethical treatment of the environment. Therefore, given the long cultural associations and increasing scientific evidence, what else needs to be done to increase the health benefits of nature exposure? One such area is to undertake studies that go beyond documenting benefits of nature exposure, to understanding the mechanisms leading to health benefits. Understanding mechanisms, in turn, provide the necessary evidence to design optimal interventions that address constraints of space, time and lifestyles of urban living. This presentation shares perspectives on the need to invest more efforts to develop a better mechanistic understanding of the health-promoting effects of nature exposure.

Dr Lin Shengwei Ervine
Senior Lecturer
Programme Director Bachelor of Landscape Architecture, Department of Architecture
National University of Singapore (NUS)

Topic: Measuring Urban Landscapes for Assessment of Restorative Potential

Exposure to nature is widely suggested to provide multiple benefits, including the capacity to trigger mental restoration. This makes it essential to integrate natural elements into urban landscapes through purpose-built parks or neighbourhood greening efforts. Singapore is no stranger to this and has spent decades greening the city into its current state. However, it is unclear what kind of greenery typologies should be prioritized in relation to the urban environment, and how the two interact and affect restorative potential. This talk will showcase two novel methods for measuring urban landscapes specific to assessing and predicting the restorative potential of neighbourhood landscapes.In doing so, it will shed light on preliminary research findings which point towards the importance and complexities of attempting to measure such an elusive effect. Such findings pave the way for fresh insights into planning and designing urban landscapes in order to maximise restorative benefits to urban dwellers.

Dr Agnieszka Olszewska-Guizzo
President & Co-founder
NeuroLandscape

with

Ms Alicia Soh,
Senior Manager, Development Management
National Parks Board (NParks)

Topic: Urban Nature for Mentally-Healthy Cities: Contemplative Landscapes
This talk will provide new insights for integrating natural landscapes into cities with consideration of better mental health and well-being, by delving into the concept of "Contemplative Landscapes" along with its supporting scientific background. Evidence from local and international studies on the influence of contemplative landscapes on the brain will also be discussed, together with the practical implications of how urban planners and residents can harness this concept to maximize the therapeutic benefits of nature. Finally, the talk will also address current and future approaches regarding the application of the Contemplative Landscape Model.
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Presentation at the International Conference for Environment and Human Health | HK

18 of August 2022
10:40 AM Hong Kong Time (GMT+8)
*online

Dr Agnieszka Olszewska-Guizzo to present "Neuroscience for Designing Urban Green Spaces: Contemplative Landscape Exposure for Mental Health"

at the  International Conference for Environment and Human Health hosted by Research Centre for Environment and Human Health in Hong Kong.

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1st in-person NeuroLandscape Workshop | Korthi-Greece | 7-9 May 2022

Natural and Cultural Heritage for Healthier and More Sustainable Urban Realms

The first, in-person scientific meeting of NeuroLandscape Team, titled "Natural and Cultural Heritage for Healthier and More Sustainable Urban Realms" took place among beautiful landscapes of the Greek island of Andros, hosted at the local Korthi Town Hall. 

The program of a 3-day event included:

SATURDAY (7.05.2022)

Time Presentation title - Speaker (Affiliation) Language
11:15 - 11:30 Welcome & Opening with Coffee GR/ENG
11:30 - 12:00 Contemplative Landscapes for Sustainable Tourism -  Dr. Agnieszka Olszewska-Guizzo (NeuroLandscape) ENG
12:00 - 12:30 Nature-Based Solutions for More Inclusive and Resilient Communities - Dr. Weronika Gasior (NeuroLandscape) ENG
12:30 - 13:00 A.I. Tools for Cultural Heritage and Tourism - Dr. Theofrastos Mantadelis (NeuroLandscape) ENG

SUNDAY (8.05.2022)

10:00 - 10:30 Impact in Post-pandemic Times: Neuroscience to the Rescue - Dr. Nicolas Escoffier (NeuroLandscape) ENG
10:30 - 11:15 Gender Equality Plan as a necessary tool for Horizon Europe Applications - Dr. Weronika Gasior (NeuroLandscape) ENG
11:15 - 11:30 Coffee Break
11:30 - 12:00 Korthian Artists 1850-1950 - Mr. Aristeidis Mantadelis (Civil Engineer) GR/ENG
12:00 - 13:00 Can you  see what you’re looking at?: Contemplative Landscape Features Recognition and Assessment - outdoor workshop - Dr. Agnieszka Olszewska-Guizzo (NeuroLandscape) ENG

MONDAY (9.05.2022)

10:00 - 10:30 Dimetra - Predicting vulnerable goods disease before transportation - Dr. Theofrastos Mantadelis (NeuroLandscape) ENG
10:30 - 11:15 Sustainable food systems in the EU legal framework - Ms. Aleksandra Zaborowska (Neurolandscape and EP) ENG
11:15 - 11:30 Coffee Break
11:30 - 12:00 Climate Change and Water Management - case study of Khulna, Bangladesh - Ms. Nazwa Tahsin (NeuroLandscape) ENG
12:00 - 12:30 VinhoLandscape - An Introduction to the Wines of Northern Portugal - Mr. Raul J.Guizzo (Symington Family Estates) ENG
12:30 - 13:00 Wine Tasting - workshop - Mr. Raul J.Guizzo (Symington Family Estates) ENG

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ICT Solutions for Healthcare | Webinar | 21 October 2021

XIII International Congress of the Spanish Association of Bioethics and Medical Ethics (AEBI)

The Organizing Committee and the Spanish Association of Bioethics and Medical Ethics (AEBI) organized the thirteenth edition of the AEBI International Congress that hosted several focused events, including the webinar on ICT solutions for Healthcare. In it our NeuroLandscape VR tool called Eascape was presented to the wider medical and Spanish-speaking audience.

Program

18:30

Welcome & opening - Elena Andrade Gomez - Enfermera. Doctora en Salud Pública. Directora de estudios de la Escuela de Enfermería de la Universidad de La Rioja. España.

18:40

ENTORNOS NATURALES, SALUD Y REALIDAD VIRTUAL Dr. Weronika Gasior - Lingüista. Doctora en Lingüística aplicada. Miembro del Consejo Científico de Neurolandscape. Jefe de Comunicaciones y Proyectos de Realidad Virtual. NeuroLandscape. Polonia - Singapur.

19:00 - Q& A
19:10

DESAFÍOS ÉTICOS DEL e-HEALTH Y EL m-HEALTH - Juan Carlos Oliva, Ingeniero de telecomunicaciones y electrónica. Director de Innovación Sanitaria del Sistema Público de Salud de La Rioja. España.

19:30 - Q&A
19:40

FORTALEZAS Y DEBILIDADES DEL E-LEARNING Y B-LEARNING - Vicente Soriano , Médico y Doctor en Medicina. Vicedecano de Investigación de la Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud de la Universidad Internacional de la Rioja (UNIR). España.

20:00- Q&A
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Innovate 4 Cities 2021 | UN Habitat Conference

Tuesday 12 October at 15:45 CEST.

Dr. Agnieszka Olszewska-Guizzo has presented her insights at the session 5H: Green spaces for healthier cities, which was fully recorded and available online:

The Conference, co-hosted by #UNHabitat and #Mayors4Climate, brings together innovative research and science to help cities tackle #ClimateChange challenges. The global five-day virtual #I4C Conference covering #Science and #Innovation partnerships driving inclusive, resilient, and climate-neutral #cities, runned from 11 to 15 October 2021 and attracted over 1,000 city leaders, scientists, researchers, innovators, academics, youth, and business leaders and is open to everyone.