In 2021, IPoP celebrated its 15th anniversary. In these 15 years we gained a lot of new knowledge and experience as well as built strong partnerships and relationships with other NGOs, municipalities, organisations, and individuals. In 2021, we strengthened our cooperation with municipalities in our thematic fields and further enabled them to exchange knowledge, experience, and good practices.
Coronavirus still affected our work in many ways. There were fewer face-to-face meetings, and travel abroad was still limited. We still managed to stay well connected in Slovene and international developments. We adapted our work processes according to the restrictions and had repeatedly faced challenges ensuring public participation in our activities.
This year will be remembered by the fieldwork in Kočevje, Lucija, Postojna, Solkan in Nova Gorica, by how we crossed paths with the crew of the Ana Monro Street Theatre and how we have successfully launched the second wave of Climate actions in Mreža za prostor network, national network of sustainable spatial development NGOs, with which network members evermore loudly bring attention to climate change and the need for actions to adapt and mitigate.
We celebrated the anniversary of IPoP in a form of a cycling gathering and an excursion around Ljubljana, where we visited the unfinished and abandoned Stožice football complex. We also enjoyed a short trip to Pula, Croatia in the summer, where we did a tour of the city, took a dip in the sea, and visited the Community centre Rojc. There we met our partners from the Zelena Istra cooperative, with which we are involved in a Tools for learning – tools for sustainable development project under the Erasmus+ programme.
Last year a new colleague, journalist Ada Cajnko, joined us and helped us with tasks related to Slovenia’s presidency of the EU Council. Urška Didovič, a graduate in landscape architecture, also joined us as a regular collaborator.
The field of sustainable mobility, with the focus on active mobility and parking policies, remained at the centre of our activities in the previous year. We supported several municipalities in the development of important local documents, which will improve the traffic conditions and encourage sustainable mobility in cities. We carried out a few pilot actions, which allowed municipalities to test the beat of streets without cars and monitor the effects of the measures put in place, as well as returned public spaces in the cities to the residents to walk, cycle, play and meet.
We carried out two campaigns under the CARE4CLIMATE project. The first one was Open Street, a pilot action to improve walking, cycling, and living conditions in Postojna. The other was a pilot action of a Play Street in front of Solkan Primary School. We collaborated with the Ana Monro Street Theatre in both campaigns and recognised them as an important partner in the revitalization of public spaces and placemaking.
Video: Open Street in Postojna.
Under the Active to school and a Healthy cities programme we have been, together with our partners, supporting organised walking to schools using the Walking bus. Since 2016 more than 130 primary schools have organised a Walking bus, with 66 schools and one kindergarten organising activities last fall. In the past year, we also cooperated with Piran and designed a local walkability plan for Lucija, one of the settlements in the municipality. We have facilitated the participatory process on planning pedestrian-friendly places in Lucija together with CIPRA Slovenia and institute Dostop. Pupils and schools have yet again had an important role in the planning. As part of the plan, we have also conducted a few new and useful analyses for planning school routes. Piran is therefore already the second municipality that has been planning a healthy city with our support.
The project Sustainable mobility in kindergartens and primary schools has encouraged kindergartens and schools to change their travel behaviour for the past three years. In the fall it has concluded and being one of the partners we shared project results at a final conference.
Parking policy remains one of the important tools for municipalities to effectively encourage changes in travel behaviour on one side and improve the state of the environment as well as enable more active use of public space on the other hand. Last year we have successfully concluded the development of a parking policy for the Municipality of Tržič, under the SaMBA project, and continued designing a parking policy for the City of Nova Gorica.
Within the Coalition for Sustainable Transport Policy, we participated in the preparation of responses to current topics, among others a proposal on building a tunnel under the centre of Maribor and on the absence of public participation in planning of the Ljubljana Passenger Center.
Public participation and community building have faced several challenges over the past year due to coronavirus-related constraints.
We witnessed the eviction of users of the Rog Autonomous Factory at the beginning of the year. After that, we were invited by the Metropolitan University of Manchester to help them with their study, analysing what value the Autonomous Factory Rog had for the city of Ljubljana, its inhabitants and visitors, and the users of the area.
In Kočevje, we continue to support the municipality in the process of revitalising the city centre. In addition to coronavirus, other municipal projects and tacks affected the objectives set out in the action plan. Nevertheless, the collaboration is ongoing, involving an increasing number of actors and echoing in the everyday life of the inhabitants. Last year, one of the streets in the city centre was temporarily closed to traffic as a pilot action and before the end of the year, young people in Kočevje got their dedicated public space in the city centre.
We wrote an article about independent production spaces as part of the Skup exhibition, which took place last November in Škuc, Ljubljana. We also wrote two articles on the anniversary of the community garden Onkraj gradbišča, located in an abandoned construction site in Ljubljana.
At IPoP, we support cities and local communities in their sustainable urban development in various ways, from enabling the exchange of practices and experiences, to cooperating with them in formulating various policies tailored to citizens.
In 2020, we published a call for good practices and gathered the top 15 in the publication Mesta mestom #3 (Cities to Cities # 3). We also organized a Fair of Good Practices, where Idrija and Ljubljana shared their experiences as their path in URBACT transfer networks BeePathNet and Re-GrowCity were coming to an end. Participants were also able to learn more about good practices included in the second and third catalogue directly from good practice holders.
In the spring of 2021, we were successful in the tender of the URBACT programme for the coordination of the national practice transfer initiative to transfer a Slovene good practice to Slovenian municipalities that have not yet had contact with the URBACT programme. With our support, Idrija is transferring the practice of its City Living Room to 6 other Slovenian municipalities: Radenci, Razkrižje, Ormož, Podlehnik, Bohinj and Bovec.
We are pleased that the URBACT community in Slovenia has grown bigger, as Koper and Grosuplje have joined the second wave of URBACT transfer networks, while Ljubljana continues its role as a lead partner.
In September, as part of Slovenia’s presidency of the EU Council, and with the support of the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning, we organized the international conference All Places Matter: Territorial Agenda in Practice, which took place in a hybrid form – live in Maribor and online. During the presidency, we also assisted the Directorate for Spatial Planning, Construction and Housing at the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning by participating in the organization of meetings within the framework of territorial cohesion.
In June it was our turn to organise a meeting of TG-Web, the Western Balkans Network on Territorial Governance. The focus of the event was a debate on development opportunities of territorial governance in the Western Balkans in the light of Territorial agenda 2030.
We often support municipalities as they develop strategies and programmes. Last year we have supported the City of Ljubljana with two documents: the environmental protection programme and the strategy for digital development. At the end of the year, we started collaborating with the Municipality of Slovenska Bistrica facilitating revitalisation of the city centre.
At IPoP we draw attention to housing issues through different projects and offer solutions together with our partners. In the last year and a half, we prepared a housing strategy for the Municipality of Bohinj. In the document, the municipality set strategic goals to improve the quality of life of its inhabitants. In addition, in the For Housing Cooperatives project, together with the Institute for Housing and Spatial Studies, we conducted an all-Slovene survey on housing conditions and analysed the housing situation in selected Slovene cities. The data and information collected will serve as a basis for effective advocacy at the national and local levels. We also continued our cooperation in the Housing for All Network.
The power of civil society was once again demonstrated in July 2021, bringing together organisations and individuals at a Slovenian referendum on the Water act. Cooperation and networking are crucial for strong and resilient communities that can respond better to both climate change as well as societal and economic change.
Last year we continued with the activities of the Climate Program of Mreža za prostor, a network of NGOs in the field of sustainable urban planning, local initiatives and organised public who strive for a higher quality of living space. We concluded with a set of Climate seminars where we highlighted climate change in different aspects of spatial development and planning learned about climate change and climate change-related policies and started a series of seminars on sustainable spatial planning highlighting different aspects of sustainable development and advocacy webinars. We also supported three network member organisations with their “Climate actions”, small local actions selected by other network members. We continued our joined activities with the Plan B for Slovenia network, by together responding to some currently developing regulations and documents and organising events. We analysed the legal framework for the management of public green areas and trees in Slovene cities and other settlements and conducted a survey on the management of urban trees. We presented our findings to the representatives of the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning dealing with public utilities.
Commissioned by the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning, we prepared expert recommendations for the legal regulation on the implementation of the mandatory local public utility service for maintenance of public areas, which is currently the only mandatory public utility service in the field of environmental protection not supported by uniform government rules and conditions. The document presents the current state and proposes starting points for improving the conditions for the implementation of this important municipal activity. Representatives of individual public utility service providers, the Association of Municipalities and Towns of Slovenia and the Chamber of utility activities were involved in its preparation.
What to look forward to in 2022?
It looks like the year 2022 will not bring too many big surprises. We are planning a lot of new activities, continuing the ongoing projects, and upgrading our efforts from previous years.
Together with the City of Velenje we will design a local walkability plan, assist one municipality in experimenting with the Open Street and another in testing the Play Streets measures. In Mreža za prostor we will continue with seminars for sustainable spatial planning and advocacy webinars, start a series of events on sustainable spatial development good practices, organise a Climate school for urbanists and support members with their new Climate actions.
We will continue supporting the transfer of Idrija’s good practice to six Slovenian municipalities and will support cities and municipalities with their applications for the new URBACT network call scheduled in autumn.
In the project For Housing Cooperatives, we will strive for the adaptation of the Housing Cooperatives Act. With the organization of the conference, we will highlight housing cooperatives as an important addition to affordable housing and an important aspect of housing policies at national and local levels.
We will continue our cooperation with the cities of Kočevje, Slovenska Bistrica, Nova Gorica and Ljubljana. We will also start with the preparation of a parking policy for the Municipality of Zreče.
We are also looking forward to new activities in collaboration with the Ana Monro Street Theatre.