The Project

COOLSCHOOLS’ practices and results aim to generate opportunities for city uptake of the nature-based climate shelters approach by other schools, neighborhoods and cities.

COOLSCHOOLS (March 2022-Feb 2025) is a transdisciplinary applied-research project aiming to analyze the multiple co-benefits of implementing nature-based solutions (NbS) for climate adaptation, or what we call nature-based climate shelters in school environments. We will explore how these interventions can act as drivers of transformation at larger urban scales through an approach that puts at the center the needs and views of children and youth.

Our conceptual framework proposes and advances nature-based climate shelters as innovative strategies for urban climate adaptation focusing on school environments. It goes beyond the idea of locally confined, safe cooling centers with air conditioning; instead, our approach leverages the multiple co-benefits of nature-based solutions (NbS) in order to achieve enhanced community health and well-being.

We study the different capacities and impacts resulting from the implementation of nature-based climate shelters in school environments from the perspectives of social justice, biodiversity conservation, public health, safety, inclusive governance and quality education from schools to the metropolitan region.

COOLSCHOOLS’ practices and results aim to generate opportunities for city uptake of the nature-based climate shelters approach by other schools, neighborhoods and cities. 

We will produce and share new evidence, tools and insights on the critical capacities that enable nature-based and inclusive transformation among local school communities, urban planners, policy makers, interested researchers, and the general public.

Studied Cities

COOLSCHOOLS builds and expands on the experience of four pioneer European projects in the implementation of NBS for climate change adaptation in school environments (primary and secondary education):

– Brussels Ose le vert (2016-2023), Opération Ré-création (2021-2024)

– Barcelona Climate Shelters in schools (2018-2021), Transformem els patis (2021-onwards)

– Paris Oasis (2018-onwards), and

– Rotterdam Groenblauwe schoolpleinen (2019-onwards).

Particularly in the case of Brussels, the recently launched transformative school greening initiative (Opération Ré-création) will serve as an Urban Living Lab (ULL). The Brussels school greening initiatives will be the primary testing ground for experimental co-creation processes and participatory methods with the aim that they bring in new evidence on the community empowerment and learning that could spring up from Urban Living Labs. 

COOLSCHOOLS partners include six different European universities (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, University of Antwerp, Hasselt University, ITC-University of Twente) in partnership with four urban government authorities (Barcelona City Council, Paris City Hall, City of Rotterdam, Brussels Environment), three local organizations (El Globus Vermell, Springzaad, IVN Natuureducatie) and two European and one international organizations (European Schoolnet, Centre of the Promotion of Science, UN-Habitat).

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement Nº 101003758, the Spanish Research Agency (AEI), Innoviris (Brussels Capital Region), Dutch Research Council (NWO), The Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO), and Agence Nationale de la Recherche (ANR).

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