Paris Launches the Schoolyard Oasis Resilience Project: Creating Green Space to Cool off Neighborhoods while Building Social Cohesion

The schoolyard Oasis project was identified through ‘Resilient Paris’ – the City’s Resilience Strategy launched in October 2017 with 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation

PARIS, FRANCE – In September, Mayor Hidalgo and the City of Paris unveiled Paris’ first-ever heat-adapted schoolyard. The schoolyard was developed as part of the “Schoolyard Oasis” project, set out in the Paris Resilience Strategy released in October 2017. The project is a result of an ongoing multi-year partnership with 100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC), which has provided Paris with funding and technical expertise to develop the city’s Resilience Strategy, help appoint a Chief Resilience Officer, and launch projects throughout the city.

The 2017 heatwaves in Paris highlighted that the city’s impermeable asphalt-covered schoolyards were a contributing factor to ongoing efforts to battle heat in the city. With more than 750 schoolyards in the city, covering up to almost 80 hectares, and yet only 5.8 m2 of green space per inhabitant, the city looked to deploy resilience thinking to transform its schoolyards into urban cooling islands, while simultaneously addressing the need for more recreational areas for Parisians. The program started with 3 schools in 2018, and will reach more than 30 schoolyards in 2019. The long-term aim is to adapt the entire city’s schoolyards in the years to come. With the average Parisian living within 200m of a schoolyard, the project has the potential to impact every resident in the city when fully implemented.

“Through its partnership with 100RC, Paris is engaged in a holistic resilience-building process led by Chief Resilience Officer Sebastien Maire. We’re thrilled to see the first “Schoolyard Oasis” open – an initiative embodying the resilience mindset by tackling a pressing climate challenge while building social cohesion”, said Michael Berkowitz, President of 100 Resilient Cities. “This project has the potential to create new usable public space for Parisians, foster greater community cohesion, and assist with water capture – all while working to increase much needed green space to fight heatwaves and the effects of the urban heat island phenomenon.”

“The City of Paris has long exemplified the values of resilience, having shown time after time its ability to emerge stronger when confronted with major events. A year after releasing Paris’s first ever Resilience Strategy, the city is well underway with creating opportunities out of the identified challenges, building a stronger, more equitable, more sustainable, and ultimately more resilient city. Opening the first of many heat-adapted schoolyards to come is a great testament to the progress made. It is our hope that Paris’s response to the challenges the city faces can serve as a model for other cities on a global scale”, said Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo.

Deputy Mayor in charge of Environmental Sustainability and Climate change Celia Blauel says: “To address the issue of climate change, we want to initiate an urban revolution with the schoolyard Oasis, to change the way we view city planning. We have three goals in particular: improve children’s everyday quality of life, tackle the heat island effects, and create new public spaces for the local communities.”

As part of the Paris Resilience Strategy, the “Oasis” program aims to:

  • Adapt the schoolyards by replacing asphalt with porous material, enhancing revegetation, modernizing water management (fountains, water sprayers), as well as creating natural and artificial shaded structures;
  • Reinforce social cohesion by co-designing the schoolyards together with each local community (including the pupils) with the goal of eventually opening these spaces to the wider public outside of school hours for recreational and sport activities;
  • Protect the health of the most vulnerable by adapting the infrastructure children use as well as through the opening of these spaces to elderly people during heatwaves.

Paris has been part of the 100RC Network since 2014. As part of the Network, Paris will now also look to export the methodology, designs and plans of the “Schoolyard Oasis” program to other cities around the world which are seeking to address heat waves and other related issues, while fostering social cohesion.

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About 100 Resilient Cities—Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation 

100 Resilient Cities – Pioneered by The Rockefeller Foundation (100RC) helps cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social, and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st century. 100RC provides this assistance through: funding for a Chief Resilience Officer in each member city who will lead the resilience efforts; resources for drafting a resilience strategy; access to private sector, public sector, academic, and NGO resilience tools; and membership in a global network of peer cities to share best practices and challenges. For more information, visit: www.100ResilientCities.org.