Biodivercities Palermo - an urban workshop

Biodivercities Palermo - an urban workshop

Franca Marsh
Main Organisation


The citizen engagement process carried out in the city of Palermo, part of the BiodiverCities project, focused on the relationship between the green spaces of the city and their role in education.The process involved school teachers, families and pupils reflecting on the role of green spaces within educational curricula, by understanding what is the impact of learning and growing up with a strong relationship with nature.

The overall objective of BiodiverCities project in the city of Palermo is to bring attention to the role of green infrastructure in educational processes happening in the city, both at the public and at the private level. The goal has been to envision the potential role of public green infrastructure in public educational curricula, and in the educational path of kids growing-up in the city; to gain a greater understanding of the state of art of public green infrastructure in the city; and to envision the necessary steps to reach the goal of integrating green areas and infrastructure in public and private educational paths.
The specific goals have been:
-to bring attention to the knowledge citizens have of public green spaces
-to bring attention to smaller green spaces, hidden in different neighbourhoods and to start conceiving them as ‘green areas’
-To identify the priorities and the steps needed to include green areas in school spaces
-To reflect on the potential of using green areas as learning space

The process encompassed three activities:

1. The first activity has been implemented in April-June 2021. Due
to Covid restriction, the activity was implemented online, using Zoom and Mural. A group of 15 teachers and educators have been involved to reflect, during three workshops, on the role that green infrastructure should have in public education system. The third workshop focused on the co-creation of surveys that served to validate the vision of the group, and to involve more actors in the reflection process.
2. The second activity consisted in the dissemination of the surveys amongst citizens, and the harvesting of collective findings. The surveys were shared amongst four different targets: a) school workers (teachers and school personnel); b)  families and parents, c) students (aged 7-18) and kids
(aged 3-7). Participants to the first activity lead the dissemination of the survey in their schools and neighbourhoods.
3. The third activity was planned to be an intervention in the garden of a public kindergarten in Palermo. Due to lack of commitment of the municipality the planned activity, was not been implemented. To conclude the BiodiverCities project, a third activity was carried out in collaboration with the Observatory for Early School Leaving of the city of Palermo. The activity consisted into nine urban walks with families and children (part of the Observatory; 150 families in total), where several issues on the relationship with green areas were explored, to understand needs, desires and expectations of this particular target group. The output of this third activity consisted of maps. 

Participation Spectrum

When and Where

Start Year
End Year

Policy Context

Policy Stage
Context of activity
Science or Policy Field
Specific Topic
The citizen engagement process carried out in the city of Palermo, part of the BiodiverCities project, focused on the relationship between the green spaces of the city and their role in education.


Communities or representatives involved
1. School teachers
2. Educators
3. School pupils
4. Families from disadvantaged areas of the city
How were the Participants selected?
Through what means citizens knew about the call for participation?
Palma Nana's website; emails


Methodologies used
Methodology description
The "Environmental Education framework" has been the base for the engagement methodology.


Main Outcomes and Lasting Achievement
The tangible output of the project corresponds to the results form the four surveys conducted, that were co-created by participants.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions and several process barriers encountered, the engagement activities did not produce long-lasting achievements.
The dropping out of the local municipality impacted the process, affecting the participants' motivation.
How were the outcome taken up within the process they were carried out?
Surveys results have been analysed and elaborated. They are available on the website of the cooperative (
Feedback provided
Other Feedback
We communicated with participants about the process, its results and evolution.


Reason for such challenges and solutions
The relationship with the local municipality has not been fruitful. It has been challenging to ensure their involvement throughout the process. When the municipality dropped out, the cooperative had to radically re-think the last
project activity to ensure the conclusion of the project, independently from authorities involvement. Practical difficulties also affected the implementation phase, as Covid-19 restrictions made it impossible to have meetings in-person for most of 2021 and part of 2022, for most of the activities foreseen. The activities were, therefore, implemented online, and the methodology was adapted to the format.
Lessons Learn
- The context is not neutral: the pandemic affected the project, as much as the
socio-economic context of a city in the southern periphery of Europe;
- Importance of time continuity and presence in the spaces to successfully accompany the process;
- Education, facilitation and participation. Can there be one without the other?
1. In contexts of higher structural violence, affected by mounting inequalities, it is necessary to prepare the ground for the citizen engagement process, by training participants on the methodologies and approaches used during the participatory process
2. If municipalities are not responsive to the process, it is important to plan in advance what kind of "other" results (beside policy impact) the process might lead to