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The NEB and belonging

Read how the NEB incorporates belonging into building beautiful, sustainable and inclusive environments.
© RMIT Europe, EIT Community and New European Bauhaus

The NEB initiative calls on people to imagine and build together a sustainable and inclusive future that is beautiful for our eyes, minds, and souls.

What is the NEB?

The NEB initiative of the European Commission connects the European Green Deal to daily lives and living spaces.

By creating bridges between different backgrounds, disciplines and harnessing participation at all levels, the NEB inspires a movement to facilitate transformation with three inseparable values:

  • aesthetics – qualities of experience and style that are beyond functionality
  • sustainability – emerging from climate goals, to economic circularity, zero pollution, and biodiversity
  • inclusion – through valuing diversity and securing accessibility and affordability.

The three values have a strong focus on living spaces and lifestyle and are considered inseparable parts of NEB projects.

How did the NEB evolve?

In the first 6 months of 2021, the NEB engaged citizens and organisations in the co-design phase. People were invited to share their vision of:

  • what the NEB should be and what should be its scope, ambitions and priorities
  • which ways of working should be promoted by the NEB.

In the co-design phase, anyone could provide ideas and insight as to what the NEB could become. People were asked to share stories that reflected how they might want to live together in sustainable, inclusive, and beautiful ways. Stories of inspiring, existing examples and projects were collated online.

The NEB community was formed which now includes hundreds of official partners (non-for-profit organizations such as universities or NGOs) and friends (businesses and public authorities). It also set up a high level round table, made up of thinkers and practitioners acting as ambassadors, fostering dialogue in their own countries and networks.

There were over 2000 contributions from citizens, institutions and businesses. These contributions enabled the European Commission to find out from those on the ground, how to define the current NEB concept, with its key principles and thematic axes.

This is an additional video, hosted on YouTube.

Infographic visualising the NEB co-design processClick to expand

The four thematic axes

During this co-design phase the NEB identified four key thematic axes:

  • Reconnecting with nature by bringing individuals and communities closer to nature, in order that they can contribute to regenerating natural ecosystems and prevent loss of biodiversity. It also invites people to reconsider their relationship with nature
  • Regaining a sense of belonging through contributing to the ‘spirit’ or ‘meaning’ of places, communities or goods that celebrate diversity
  • Prioritising the people and places that need it the most by addressing the needs of territories, communities and individuals due to economic, social or physical characteristics
  • Long term life-cycle thinking in the industrial ecosystem through contributing to more sustainable practices.

The NEB principles

Another outcome of the NEB co-design phase concerns how to work together: the NEB working principles. They describe how projects are to be implemented via:

  • participatory processes: the degree and manner in which the communities affected by the project are involved in the decision-making and implementation phases
  • transdisciplinary approaches: bringing together knowledge from different fields and practitioners from various sectors, to find solutions which positively impact all dimensions that come into play in the transformation of a place
  • multi-level engagement, both global and local: enabling effective coordination between vertical and horizontal modes of cooperation.

NEB Prizes

The NEB awarded prizes to projects in 2021 and 2022. The NEB Prizes recognise and celebrate existing achievements and support the younger generation to develop emerging concepts and ideas. They give visibility to examples and concepts that illustrate how beautiful, sustainable, inclusive places already exist. Some of the NEB Prizes finalists and winners are included as examples in this course.

Regaining a sense of belonging

The NEB considers inclusion, along with equality, accessibility and affordability as fundamental to fostering a sense of belonging. Its intention is to:

  • encourage inter-generational solidarity, develop links between education and the arts in local environments, and improve common spaces and places to meet
  • strengthen connections and foster healthy, sustainable, active mobility
  • foster opportunities for connection and social interaction through cultural and social life, arts events and concerts as cultural assets (heritage, arts, local craft), natural assets (landscapes, natural resources) and social assets (social economy enterprises, local organisations and associations) in ways that make a place unique.

The NEB goes beyond large cities and encompasses places in all their diversity, including small villages, rural areas, shrinking cities, degenerated city districts and de-industrialised areas. This calls for territorial development avoiding spatial segregation of social groups to create a sense of togetherness.

In week 2, we’ll draw on NEB examples that highlight diverse ways to foster a sense of belonging through engaging citizens and communities, to help accelerate the green transition, co-creating together more sustainable, inclusive and beautiful spaces and lifestyles.

In the following steps, we explore different ways of understanding belonging.

© RMIT Europe, EIT Community and New European Bauhaus
This article is from the free online

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