Belfast City Co-designs its vision for UP2030


May, 2024


Mapping for Change CIC & Belfast City Council

In line with the UP2030 ethos of co-design and multi-level stakeholder engagement, April saw the Belfast Team and its liaison partner, Mapping for Change, hold a series of engaging workshops to co-design a vision for their pilot neighbourhood and build the adaptive pathways to reach such a vision. They aimed at gathering insights and ideas from various stakeholders and the local community. These workshops were pivotal in shaping the direction of the project and fostering collaboration across departments and with the public, moving away from the silo-working which was previously identified by many of the pilot cities as a barrier for becoming net zero.

The first day kicked off with an internal presentation to staff from different departments within Belfast City Council, including planning, physical programs, and climate resilience. Together, the group delved into the context of the UP2030 project and outlined the goals for Belfast, focusing on greening initiatives, promoting active travel, greening, and implementing retrofit solutions. 

During this facilitated session, participants explored the designated pilot area, highlighting its demographics, key concerns, and needs identified by established communities. Participants engaged in activities, such as crafting future newspaper articles, which yielded insightful perspectives and innovative ideas for a net-zero future by 2050. It was encouraging to witness the enthusiasm and creativity of our colleagues as they envisioned a sustainable Belfast. The objectives and theory of change were validated and a number of short to longer term actions were identified to meet the agreed objectives.

Later that evening, a youth workshop was held at the Accidental Theatre in the city centre, with an adapted presentation to resonate with a younger audience. The session aimed to gather the perspectives of young residents on how they envision their communities in the next 25 years and how to tackle local challenges. Using the method of ‘Map my World’ the group sketched out what they would like to see in the neighbourhood and then added ideas to a large map to provide a spatial element. The youth group demonstrated remarkable creativity and offered fresh perspectives unbound by conventional thinking. Their illustrations and ideas injected a new energy into the discussions.

On the following day, the team conducted two further workshops specifically centered around greening up the pilot neighbourhood and sustainable travel. Various stakeholders were invited, from statutory services to NGOs and community representatives. These sessions provided a deeper dive into key project areas and generated valuable insights that will steer the project's development.

To support a much needed accessible communication campaign around net zero, an illustrator captured visual minutes of all the workshops, translating ideas and discussions into compelling visuals. These illustrations will be shared with all participants, including the young people, encapsulating the collective progress made during these engaging sessions. The hope is to display the illustrations in a public shared space to encourage more of the community to learn about net zero and the city’s ambitions in an engaging and interesting format.

The outcomes from these workshops are instrumental in advancing the UP2030 project, guiding Belfast’s next steps towards a sustainable and resilient future for the capital. In addition, the relationships and connections built during the sessions will help Belfast to advance to the Action Phase of UP2030 in the summer and encourage even more stakeholder to get involved.

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