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Thessaloniki Resilience Strategy

: Greece
: Thessaloniki
: 19.31 km²/111.7 km²
: 811,000 in 2019 (PopulationStat, 2020)
: 2017
: 13 years
: Ongoing
: Yes
: Municipality of Thessaloniki 
: 40.6366
: 22.9421
Increased provisioning of ecosystem goods (e.g. Food, water, etc)
This ongoing cocreation process fosters the potential of finding innovative bottom‐up solutions for residents and the wider community. Thessaloniki’s first community garden catalyses the production of fresh vegetables, promotes healthy lifestyles and boosts environmental quality in the city centre (11 families within a 1km radius of the project location have participated; planting surface: 84 m2, 21 raised beds of 4m2 (each family owns 1-3 plots); yearly harvest per family: approximately 80-100 kg of vegetables and herbs). (Municipality of Thessaloniki, 2017).
Increased infiltration, water retention and flood protection
Yes, a new natural landscape within the built environment has been set up and NbS for alternative rain water management - such as permeable surfaces, rain gardens, pocket community gardens, green roofs and green walls on schools and municipal buildings - have been put into effect (IUCN, 2019; Municipality of Thessaloniki, 2017).
Reduced drought risk, cooling effect, urban heat island mitigation
Yes, plants absorb and reflect sunlight (Sempergreen, 2019) and add moisture and cool the air through evapotranspiration. The shelter effect provided by vegetation also keeps buildings and streets from heating up. (EnergyCities, 2020).
Biodiversity conservation or increased biodiversity
Yes, rain gardens,  green roofs and walls, as well as the urban agriculture in inner courtyards and small community gardens, furnish habitats for plants and animals. (Municipality of Thessaloniki, 2017).
Increased quality and quantity of green and blue infrastructures
Yes, by boosting the number of rain gardens,  green roofs and walls, and small community gardens. (IUCN, 2019).
Sustainable urbanisation
The strategy is divided into 30 objectives and over 100 actions, each of which contain multiple benefits for the resilience of the city and population. Thessaloniki's resilience is founded on the values which cut across four principal goals that together constitute the foundations of the strategy: • Shape a thriving and sustainable city: Design and deliver urban and mobility systems that serve people with efficiency, environmental integrity, and strategic resource use - this incorporates an integrated mobility system, smart urban logistics design, clean power, air quality management, and up-to-date waste management solutions. • Co-create an inclusive city: Invest in human abilities, including skills, leadership, and entrepreneurship; align education and training to career paths; broaden the role of boroughs as social labs; empower residents and community-led projects; and foster co-creation in open and public spaces. • Construct a vibrant urban economy and responsive city: Create an urban economy policy agenda which acknowledges and backs existing and potential local economic cluster activities and zones. Start new cross-sector partnerships and update administrational approaches to permit the city to respond with greater effectiveness to the requirements of its citizens and a shifting world through financial resilience, metropolitan collaboration, capital investment, and risk-reduction management plans. • Re-discover the city’s connection with the sea: Integrate the economic and urban development of Thermaikos Bay by investing in the cultural and natural capital of the Bay with the aim of improving city life, repristinating the ecosystem, keeping environmental resilience under observation, and designing a new governance system for managing these activities. (Municipality of Thessaloniki, 2017).
Improved aesthetic value
Yes, by increasing greenery in the built environment.
Increased access to green infrastructure
Rain gardens,  green walls, and small community gardens have been created and installed (IUCN, 2019).
Increased communities' sense of ownership
Yes, community gardens create resilient and cohesive communities. The city has also developed the Adopt  your Green Spot program, which facilitates the active  participation of citizens in the upkeep of urban green areas  using the format of co-ownership of public space and diminishing  the cost to public funds. (Municipality of Thessaloniki, 2017).
Increased social interaction and inclusion
The main aim of the strategy is to encourage resilience by means of participation, education,  community connection and integration. The city offers NbS, which also are relatively inexpensive (a very important factor in times of financial hardship). These  solutions not only involve the collaboration of residents, but encourage integration of migrants or refugees. (IUCN, 2019). 
Increased willingness, participation, investment in NBS
The basis of this approach is the robust participation and collaboration of more than 40 organizations and 2,000 citizens from across the city. There is also a special focus on the youth of the city. (Municipality of Thessaloniki, 2017).
Provision of health benefits
Yes, green open areas become more appealing for locals/tourists by advertising nature-based activities (Municipality of Thessaloniki, 2017).
Education, knowledge exchange and learning
This program has another positive facet: it is an activity that  teaches people, gives a contribution to the local economy and creates or  encourages local communities and social cohesion.  (IUCN, 2019).
Flooding risk
Widespread flooding in 2009 and 2014 showed that, notwithstanding Thessaloniki’s favourable topography, flood mitigation infrastructure must improve. Seven streams in the metropolitan area of Thessaloniki have been identified as being likely to cause flooding. Due to a historically weak urban development regulation, the combined sewer system is at the moment unable to deal with peak flows during floods.. The dense urbanisation also precludes any significant retention and storage of stormwater. This has been of the causes of infrastructure failures and localised flooding. (Municipality of Thessaloniki, 2017).
Low air quality
Air pollution is one of Thessaloniki's foremost environmental challenges. Air pollution continues to be a main concern for citizens and local stakeholders, and levels of particulate matter (PM10) and other pollutants ozone (O3) remain over the recommended thresholds, particularly in the summer months (Municipality of Thessaloniki, 2017).
Drought and heat risk
The Mediterranean Region is considered as a "hot-spot" of climate change, having been identified in global climate scenarios as one of the most responsive regions to climate change (Lionello and Scarascia, 2018). There is a consensus in scientific literature that average temperatures will rise across most of the Mediterranean Region, and that precipitation will decrease (Ulbrich et al. 2013; Lionello and Scarascia, 2018). Observed annual mean temperatures in the Mediterranean Region are now 1.4 °C higher than the average late-nineteenth-century levels, particularly during the summer months (Cramer et al., 2018).
Low availability of green infrastructure
The city has a dense urban structure and a dearth of open and green spaces. (Municipality of Thessaloniki, 2017).
Low aesthetic value
Yes, due to growing urbanisation.
Local unemployment
Yes, the startegy also addresses the city’s many stressors, such as potential shocks with regard to the subitaneous influx of thousands of refugees and high levels of unemployment. (Municipality of Thessaloniki, 2017).
Lack of local sense of ownership, participation
The main concept of the resilience strategy is creating partnerships and increasing collaboration among the municipalities of metropolitan Thessaloniki. This strategy is envisaged as the start of a process of co-creation - a way to collectively work together, dividing responsibilities, resources, opportunities and results. (Municipality of Thessaloniki, 2017). Over 40 organizations and 2,000 citizens have take part. (IUCN, 2019).
Negative environmental impacts on human health
Around 30% of the population of Thessaloniki is subjected to noise levels above 75db in daytime, particularly around major arteries such as Nikis Blv., Egnatia Str. and Tsimiski St. This is over the recommended EU threshold limit. (Municipality of Thessaloniki, 2017).
Food security (SDG2) Zero Hunger
Good health and well-being (SDG3)
Reduced inequalities (SGD10)
Sustainable cities and communities (SDG11)
Climate action, resilience, mitigation and adaptation (SDG13)
Terrestrial biodiversity (SDG15)