(Left) Catherine Nagel and (right) Tom Dallesio

World Urban Parks and City Parks Alliance collaborated to host the fifth day of City Parks Alliance's Greater and Greener Conference on 2 August in Minneapolis and St. Paul in the USA. Attendance, hosted at the World Toro Headquarters, was capped at 140 with a full house. Over 30 World Urban Parks members attended, primarily from the USA and Canada, but also with a large presence from Japan and Sweden.


The day commenced with breakfast and Catherine Nagel (Executive Director CPA), Gil Penalosa (Chair WUP and 8-80 Cities) and Tom Dallessio (President, CEO and Publisher of Next City) set the scene. The day was organised around three themed interactive presentations focused on approaches cities around the world were taking in using parks and open space to create healthy, sustainable and resilient cities.  Two of the sessions aligned directly with WUP standing committees.


The first session -  Healthy Parks, Healthy Cities examined the connections between nature, human and environmental health and healthy and sustainable cities. This was moderated by Gil Penalosa with speakers ErionVeliaj, Mayor of Tirana, on Tirana's extensive parks development; Dr. William Bird, CEO, Intelligent Health Ltd.  UK, on programs getting city populations outdoors; and Dr. Carolyn Aguilar, Dean of Architecture, Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico.


Over the morning break, Jayne Miller, Superintendent of Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, presented the WUP Legacy Award 2017, recognising the impact of Brian O'Neill, former General Superintendent of Golden Gate National Parks, on developing park community engagement.


The second session,River Revolution Cities, showcased how cities are recognizing the health, livability, sustainability, and economic value of restored river and riparian systems.  Jayne Miller (Minneapolis) and  Michael Hahm (Director St. Paul Parks and Recreation) presented on the restoration and development of the host cities' Mississippi River; Professor Kyung-JinZoh (Seoul National University Department of Landscape Architecture) presented on the restoration of the Han River, Seoul that had been buried under an arterial road; and Helena Bjarnegård (Head Landscape Architect, City of Gothenburg, Co-Chair WUP Children Play and Nature Committee) and Amelie Sandow (leading the park project) presented on the downtown Rivercity development of Gothenburg's Gothia River.


Following a technical tour of the Toro Campus, the third session, entitled Large Parks and Cities, highlighted how investing in large parks contributes significantly to city sustainability, livability, heritage and place-making. Speakers, moderated by Chris Abbet (Associate Regional Director – Partnerships, Interpretation, and Education, U.S. National Park Service) were María Claudia LópezSorzano (Secretary of Culture, Parks and Sport, Bogota), Dr. Richard Murray (President, Ekoparken Association, Stockholm, Co-Chair WUP Large Urban Parks Committee) presenting on Royal National City Park in Stockholm, and Pam Veinotte (Field Unit Superintendent, Rouge National Urban Park, Toronto) presenting on the 6,000 hectare park in the Toronto urban area.


Tom Dalessio's interactive presentations on 'getting cities right' bookended the sessions and included the urbanisation summit Habitat III (that World Urban Parks had co-hosted a large urban parks side event at).


The wider Greater and Greener Conference delivered by City Parks Alliance, provided a rich program of presentations, workshops and technical tours. World Urban Parks members met together on the first day of the conference presentations, hosted by Gil Penalosa (pictured).


Gil Penalosa, WUP Chair
The huge Rouge National Park in urban Toronto, Canada
The River City of Gothenburg and Jubilee Park
The River City Gothenburg Vision
WUP members meeting Dr. Richard Murray speaking