Focus group in Kołobrzeg

Read the report from the focus group heald by our partners in Kołobrzeg

A Polish research team has just completed a focused study involving the participation of 9 individuals, employees of municipal offices and public sector-owned companies. The study participants highlighted challenges facing the functional area of Kołobrzeg city, not only environmental ones related to the climate but also social challenges. Respondents voluntarily supplemented the catalogue of challenges defined in the study, which was included in the survey as a list of resulting threats. The most significant challenge was the ‘monofunctionality of the area’ (i.e. touristic profile of economics), obtaining 21% of the votes among the 9 identified most crucial problems. 
Following this, ‘underutilised demographic situation’ and ‘intense, torrential rains’ received 18% each, standing as the second most pressing issues. ‘Hazardous waste at the bottom of the Baltic Sea’ (outdated ammunition and war gas stored in the seabed) and ‘strong winds and gales’ ranked third, each gaining 12% of the votes. Notably, three challenges have strong anthropogenic conditioning, while two are related to climate and the environment. This highlights the necessity of a deeper understanding of ‘social resilience’, signifying the community’s ability to adapt to changes resulting from human pressure on urbanised and natural environments. 
Panellists pointed out the issues of the long-term development of the city’s functional area and the Baltic region (dangerous waste) and negative trends visible in several other centres (shrinking cities, losing functions due to unfavourable demographic situations). Regarding climate, the pressure is equally high, involving threats of flooding, inundation due to heavy rainfall, and the inadequacy of technical infrastructure. 
It will be crucial to pay attention to the potential of blue and green infrastructures (BGI). Firstly, diagnosing essential areas on the city map and its functional area with the involvement of the local community, which can provide data about these areas through a co-creation process of water retention solutions (e.g., rain gardens) or good practices related to permeable surface development (such as unpaved driveways and parking lots). 
A shift in the dominant wind direction or the intensification of wind force also presents a broad spectrum for BGI, especially green infrastructure. Properly shaping greenery that will act as a natural shield against the wind is crucial. This involves shaping the morphological layout of the city, creating cohesive ecological and air-refreshing corridors, and constructing worthy buildings that will shield the city’s internal fabric from strong drafts.