The first face-to-face meeting of RethinkAction took place in Malmö from 18th – 19th October 2022. Our partner IVL, who organised the meeting, chose the perfect location: The old European-style Clarion Collection Hotel Temperance in Engelbrektsgatan in the city centre of Malmö. Not only did all meetings take place here, almost all participants were also accommodated in this atmospheric venue. Thanks to this convenience, all partners were able to work very focussed over the two days, and it enabled participants to meet up on the evening before the workshop. ICLEI invited a special guest, Simon Chrisander, Deputy Mayor of the City of Malmö, to meet the project partners that evening. With discussions about the challenges for local decision-makers, the COP27, European politics and energy topics, the meeting had a great kick-off. After one year of intensive online cooperation, it was good to finally meet each other in person.

Day 1

The first day was focused on work package presentations and included two workshops: one on social media and communication and the other on stakeholder engagement and the End User Community. After a short introduction and an overview of the progress of the project by the project coordination from CARTIF, the individual work packages had the chance to present their progress, and to discuss which particular challenges are emerging. On the one hand, it was impressive to learn about the work that has already been completed. On the other hand, the ambition and complexity of what the consortium wants to achieve became clear once again: From the strategy of how to engage stakeholders to make the results relevant and useful for the target group, to the identification, provision and aggregation of diverse data, the integration and preparation of land-use based mitigation and adaptation solutions, the modelling of all this, to the coordination of specific assessment activities in the case studies and an active flow of information between the cross-sectoral wide-scale approach (EU and global) and the local case studies. Not to forget, of course, how all this will be brought together in the RethinkAction Integrated Asssessment Platform (IAP) and made available to users, and how the platform and the many project results can be widely exploited and disseminated. The exchange was intensive and constructive, some open questions could be clarified, others concretised in order to define requirements to answer them.

After the group photo, the afternoon continued with two workshops. CMF organised the social media workshop to generate content for future posts, which has a strong focus on the case studies. The six case studies Gotland in Sweden, Tarn-et-Garonne in France, the East of EU in Hungary, Valle d’Aosta in Italy, Almería in Spain, and the Açores in Portugal are central to the project and will get more space in future communication. In small groups, there were intensive discussions about which aspects of the case studies were suitable for a broad audience: for example, how the plastic waste affects the water system in Almería, or about the change through melting glaciers in Valle d’Aosta. The groups were composed in such a way that one responsible person of the specific case study was in a group at a time. This gave an impression into the challenges and special features of the individual case studies to the other partners. The results will soon be available on our social media channels [Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram]. Video interviews conducted with the partners during the meeting will also be posted soon.

The second Workshop on the first afternoon was dedicated to the engagement strategy with our end user community (EUC). The EUC plays a central role within the RethinkAction project. It should participate and advise the whole process to ensure that the results are meaningful and useful. The RethinkAction project aims to improve decision-makers’ and citizens’ understanding of sustainable land use-based mitigation and adaptation solutions. By developing solutions through co-creative processes, the project also promotes active participation in climate action by decision-makers, stakeholders, and citizens. Accordingly, the workshop was about how this participation can be further expanded, what barriers might still exist and how these can be overcome, and the benefits that can be provided to EUC members. By the way: Anyone who is interested in helping to shape the project results, exchanging ideas directly with experts and decision-makers and networking can register in the end-user community [here].

After a day of many lively discussions, interesting presentations and creative group work, it was then time to clear our heads and move our legs. For this, our partner IVL came up with something special: A quiz walk, where questions had to be answered at several stations in the city in connection with sights in order to find the next station. The last station was the restaurant SAJVVA, where the project dinner took place. The food there was not only delicious, but also completely plant-based. A good choice to end the long day in a spirited way.

Day 2

Day 2 was more interactive to arrive at technical alignment in a series of key topics for the project. For this reason, several „parts“ of a technical alignment workshop were proposed. These were complemented by a presentation about the RethinkAction platform. Day 1 was used to present the data which has been gathered and identified so far. The workshops on the Day 2, on the other hand, aimed to complement them and, finally, to review all relevant comments and data requirements in a final cross-cutting workshop to model them, both at the local level and on a global scale. RethinkAction aims to provide a decision-making tool for different stakeholders. The underlying data and how to model these is a challenge that requires a lot of coordination and communication about requirements, specifications and dimensions. The first technical alignment workshop focused on Land use-based Adaptation and Mitigation Solutions (LAMS) and allocation rules, the second on climate change impacts, risks and vulnerability and the third on data collection and storage.

Between the first two and the third workshop, the partners had the chance to have a first look at the mock-ups for the Integrated Assessment Platform (IAP). The IAP will be one of the core results of the RethinkAction project, co-created with an end-user community throughout the project duration. The presentation was a first glimpse into the future. The mock-up was presented and printouts were displayed on the meeting room’s walls. Partners were asked to write their feedback and comments directly onto the printouts. The gathered feedback was used as a basis for the refinement of the platform for the 2nd End User Community interaction which took place at the end of November.

Some interesting feedback was provided by partners during the presentation of the mock-ups. The feedback pointed to the need for visible data, the alignment of the scenarios of the different module parts (and how best to explain them to the users), and how the LAMS-scenarios can be used in the evaluation of different “policy scenarios”. Our last day ended with dinner at the hotel. Some of the participants went to a nearby bar before starting their return journeys with a lot of inspiration and work for the further course of the project. The 2-day meeting brought up many challenges of the RethinkAction project, but it also highlighted what has been achieved so far. Overall, it underlined the collective strength of the team of partners to tackle the tasks ahead together.