World Urban Parks Symposium
16 - 17 November 2023
Istanbul Fair Centre, Hall 10

WUP symposium logo

Landscape Istanbul Fair 2023 to deliver thought leadership and product innovation!

When Landscape Istanbul Fair 2023 (LIF 2023) opens its doors from 16-18 November, it will host an impressive line up of international thought leaders and market leading suppliers for three days of high-quality industry content and business exchange.
The World Urban Parks Symposium will be held for two days between 16-17 November 2023, where it is free to attend for pre-registered delegates
Boasting a line-up of international speakers who are undoubtedly some of the most knowledgeable and influential experts in their field, attendees will be treated to presentations detailing case studies and latest thought leadership on key issues for planning and maintenance of parks and urban green spaces.

"Adapt and Recover - Celebrating the power of parks"

As the world changes, the two most pressing issues facing our planet can no longer be ignored. Public parks around the world are in a unique position to help tackle the international crisis of climate change and biodiversity loss. This World Urban Parks symposium is therefore focused exclusively on addressing these challenges, and aims to share solutions under two key themes:

Adaptation to climate change - how public parks or wider landscape management has been adapted to deal with the challenges of climate change, or how they have contributed to mitigating climate change in a town, city or country.

Recovery of biodiversity - how public parks or wider landscape management has played a key role in the restoration or provision of increased habitats, which has or will allow biodiversity to recover from previous man made, and/or environmental impacts.

1st Day


Chair of UK Parks Management Association

Paul Rabbitts is Parks and Open Spaces Manager for Norwich City Council, England. His career started as a landscape architect and has since worked in parks management for over 35 years for municipalities in Jersey, Carlisle, Middlesbrough, Watford, and Southend-on-Sea. He is the founder and Chair of the UK Parks Management Association, an organisation that supports the parks sector and professionals across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Paul is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, a Member of the Chartered Institute of Horticulture and is currently studying for his PhD at the University of East Anglia. He is a recognised expert in several landscape subjects, having written over 33 books on public parks, architecture, and the Victorian period of parks development in England.

“People’s Parks – A new revolution for people, place and planet”
(13:45 - 14:15)

In 1833, the UK Parliament launched a "Select Committee for Public Walks" - one of the first governments in the world to identify how parks, green spaces and walking areas could be “calculated to promote the health and comfort of the inhabitants". 140 years ago, this particular enquiry was designed to tackle a shocking and unsettling health crisis. And parks and green spaces were called upon to provide a revolutionary solution. Today, the world is still debating the value of parks and open spaces - convincing politicians and municipal leaders of their value, a challenge. With limited staffing, funding, and resources, how do we learn from the lessons of the past to reframe our parks as the solution to the current crisis we face - accelerating climate change and devastating biodiversity loss. Paul will use examples from his 35 years of managing parks and open spaces from all over the UK, to demonstrate how we need a new revolution in park building and management for the 21st Century.

Municipality of Rotterdam, Assetmanager Urban Green and Trees

I work as an assetmanager for the municipality of Rotterdam. One of my main focuses is the investment programme of our parks. This programma provides our opportunities for adapting to our changing climate. This really interesests and motivates me. I also work on planning and managing the asset Urban Green and Park-like structures.

“How parks in Rotterdam play a vital role in climate adaptation and biodiversity"
(14:15 - 14:45)

With over 600.000 inhabitants and many more plants and animals, Rotterdam faces some huge challenges. How do we adapt to climate change? How do we provide enough space for biodiversity in such an urban landscape? Our parks play a vital role in answering these questions. We use our parks for water storage. We use them to provide shade on hot days and to reduce the heat island effect. We also use our parks as corridors for birds, bees and mammals. Over the last few years Rotterdam has done many pilots and experiments which have proved invaluable for improving and strengthening the way we approach these challenges. The lessons we learned from this led us to an integrated approach. Water and parks play a central role, but we also focus on social, economical and ecological effects of climate changes. We are actively investing in a livable and futureproof city. To create a city for us, for nature and for our future generations.

Assoc. Prof. René Van Der VELDE
Landscape Architecture & Urban Forestry Delft University of Technology

Rene van der Velde is Associate Professor Landscape Architecture and Urban Forestry at Delft University of Technology. His work is focussed towards developing climate-proof, healthy and resilient cities via fundamental and applied research in and around urban forestry and green infrastructure. He is initiator of the Urban Climate Arboreta project, on the relationship between tree architecture(s) and heat stress mitigation, the Atlas of Tree City Holland project, which maps the cultural-historical, socio-spatial and physical-ecological dimensions of the urban forest in lowland cities, and with European partners on the Biocity of the Future project, where the concept of Forest Urbanism plays a central role. He teaches on these topics at a bachelor, master and post-master level and advises government, industry and societal partners on climate-proof, healthy and resilient cities.

“Get the trees right - Talking the spatial language of municipal parks trees in the face of climate change.”
(15:00 - 15:30)

Trees have always been an essential feature of public parks. However, in the face of climate change - our approach to practices such as species selection, planting techniques and ongoing maintenance needs to adapt. These changes need to consider the unique landscape of each park, designed at multiple scales and in response to particular geographic, historical, and cultural contexts. They also need to be made with an understanding of the 'forest-scape' which characterizes each park, not just to combat climate change, but to preserve the park's sense of place, and role in providing valuable physical and educational experiences for the public. In his talk Rene van der Velde draws on more than 35 years of experience of landscape architecture and urban forestry, and presents a new vision for our relationship and management of trees in parks.
Engin Ünver

Planning and Project Manager of Denizli Metropolitan Municipality's Parks and Gardens Department

In 2006, Ergin ÜNVER graduated from Ankara University’s Department of Landscape Architecture. He has 17 years of experience in landscape project design, implementation, construction and maintenance in both public and private sectors. He currently serves as the Planning and Project Manager at the Denizli Metropolitan Municipality's Parks and Gardens Department, executing administrative and technical leadership roles. He has overseen the project management and control of over 100 parks within the responsibility of Denizli Metropolitan Municipality. Additionally, after 2023, he will be involved in preparing the management plan and ensuring the sustainability of the three “Green Flag” parks which in Turkey are unique to Denizli.

“Green Cities are more valuable cities.”
(15:30 - 16:00)

Climate change is expected to lead to more heat waves and heavier rainfall throughout the world. As a result, providing shade, cooling through evaporation and green spaces will become even more important and valuable with the increased capacity of suitable soil to absorb rainwater. Denizli Metropolitan Municipality is working towards combating climate change by using public resources more efficiently. Within the leadership of Denizli Metropolitan Municipality, Mayor Osman ZOLAN, oversaw the preparation of the 2016-2030 "Denizli Climate Change Action Plan". Denizli Metropolitan Municipality became the Turkish champion and 2nd globally in the One Planet City Challenge, a competition by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) aimed at raising awareness of climate change in cities and highlighting climate change preventing efforts. Additionally, preparations for Sustainable Energy and the Climate Action Plan are still ongoing projects. The Department of Parks and Gardens of Denizli Metropolitan Municipality is providing support to this endeavor and will share insights on their efforts and evaluations related to Green Flags in parks.
Ahmad TEWFIK (2)

Dr. Ahmad TAWFIK
Advisor | Dhafra Region Municipality

Dr. Ahmad T. Tawfik author for three books (Future Readiness, Scientific Diplomacy, and Science and innovation for sustainable development), he has diverse experiences in chemistry, environmental control and treatment. He has worked in Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency since 2000 as an environmental researcher and has several papers in environmental treatment and green chemistry. Ahmad has established environmental system management for different organization to implement, monitor and control the environment in Egypt and UAE. Dr Ahmad has received many appreciation awards from the Egyptian minister and UAE ministers.

“Turn off the tap - Slashing water consumption in Al Dhafra's parks”
(16:15 - 16:45)

Water is one of the world’s most precious resources – but as the planet’s climate changes and the population rises, up to 9.6 billion people could be living in areas where water is scarce for at least one month a year by 2050. In 2020 Al Dhafrah Region Municipality in the United Arab Emirates embarked an ambitious project to slash the water usage in the region’s public parks and green spaces. The result today is an astonishing 75% annual reduction in irrigation water usage - from 16 billion gallons to less than 4 billion gallons a year. The initiative was implemented from various angles such as pioneering alternative vegetation cover, and variable season-specific irrigation tactics. The project was strengthened by adopting Global Reporting Initiative Standards and aligning with the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Join Dr. Ahmad Tawfik as he narrates this environmental success story and learn how you could implement similar changes in your parks and green spaces.

2nd Day


City of Paris - Head of the Plant and Soil Expertise

Marie GANTOIS has a MSc degree in agricultural and environmental sciences (ISA Lille, France) and a MSc in Climate Studies (Wageningen University, The Netherlands). She has been working for French cities for over 14 year, including 12 years at the City of Paris, where she developed srtategies for adaptation to climate change, worked in some projects about polluted soils assessments and remediation, and is currently in charge of research and innovation practices regarding the greening of the city as Head of the plant and soil expertise department of the City of Paris. Missions of this department include: soil quality assessment, plant health assessment, plants adapted to urban conditions and climate change for Paris, eco-friendly management and zero pesticide strategy, etc.

“Addressing climate change, biodiversity and public health - Why and how the City of Paris launched its zero pesticide strategy”
(10:45 - 11:15)

Since 2015, there has been no use of chemical phytosanitary products in Paris. The presentation will focus on our zero pesticide strategy in Paris: why and how we decided to launch and implement this strategy + the main challenges and outcomes it provides for green parks management. This strategy covers both climate change mitigation and biodiversity empowerment at the local level, but it also addresses public health improvement and, to a certain extent, adaptation to climate change.

Alessandra RICCETTI
Public Space Designer for the City of Amsterdam

Alessandra works as Public Space Designer for the City of Amsterdam. Originally from Italy, she is an architect graduated in Environmental Technology Design at the Faculty of Architecture and Engineering at Polytechnic University of Milan. She gained experience between Milan, Buenos Aires and Amsterdam, where is enrolled in the development of Integral design for public space. Her field is strategic design from plan area, street levels to processes for system innovation. As part of the editorial team, published the books “Integral Design Method for Public Space” and "BiodiverCITY_A Matter of Vital Soil! Creating, implementing and upscaling biodiversity-based measures in public space.", which has won the 2023 World Landscape Award (WLA) - Award of Excellence in the Concept – Analysis & Planning category.

“BiodiverCITY_A Matter of Vital Soil! Creating, implementing and upscaling biodiversity-based measures in public space”
(11:15 - 11:45)

BiodiverCITY_A Matter of Vital Soil! Creating, implementing and upscaling biodiversity-based measures in public space. is a publication from the City of Amsterdam in collaboration with knowledge institutions and external practice. The goal of the book is to put soil biodiversity on the agenda of municipalities, urban designers, and policymakers in the Netherlands. The project is pioneering in investigating soil life as a prerequisite for urban life as basis of our cities’ liveability, biodiversity, and climate resilience. The reader/audience can get to know a proposal of catalogues of biodiversity-based measures to implement soil quality through design and decision making, in addition of good practice and virtuous collaborative models (ex. City of Amsterdam, Naturalis, Artis on healthy trees).

Dr. Stephan TREUKE
Project Director of Emscherland - Emschergenossenschaft (Emscher Cooperative)

Dr. Stephan Treuke has a proven track record in research and development related to public space and landscape creation across Germany and abroad. His current role is on oversight at the Emschergenossenschaft (Emscher Cooperative) as Project Director of Emscherland – an intermunicipal park that has been created on an area of around 30 hectares. The park is an ambitiously designed public landscape where the Emscher, the Suderwicher Bach and the Rhine-Herne Canal waterways in Germany meet. Stephan specialises in working on international cooperation, regional master planning and climate change adaptation in the city. As a lecturer at the Dep. of Spatial Planning, Technical University of Dortmund and at the Dep. of Geosciences, Ruhr University Bochum he teaches a new generation of park makers, the real possibilities of large scale green megaprojects. He holds a Master's Degree in Geography, French, Spanish and Portuguese and a PhD in Social Science.

“The Emscher River Conversion - Flowing in the right direction”
(11:45 - 12:15)

More than a hundred years ago, a sparsely populated agricultural landscape in Germany was abused and mistreated – eventually declining into an industrial wasteland. The once beautiful, naturally flowing Emscher River became a man-made system of open sewers. Now, through a project spanning 30 years and 5.5 billion euros, 328 kilometres of the Emscher and its tributaries have been reshaped to create a vibrant watercourse that closely reflects its original natural state. In addition to restoring nature, the organisation in charge has led on further projects such as the creation of new public green space "Emscherland", large scale storm water management systems and an abundance of replacement habitats. In this presentation, Dr. Stephan Treuke charts the journey and flow of this inspiring story of restoration. And explains how the project evolved into a vital tool to counteract climate change and biodiversity loss, for the entire region.

Executive Director of World Urban Parks Organization

Founder of Parks of Mexico and the National Association of Parks and Recreation of Mexico. Has worked for the past 14 years on urban parks and public spaces projects in Mexico through models of participatory design, community building and financial sustainability; in addition to organizing the International Congresses of Urban Parks of Mexico and South America. Member of the Board of the World Parks Academy. Fellow for the Salzburg 2021 Seminar in the Emerging Urban Leaders Program and winner of the Emerging Leaders Award by the World Urban Parks Organization 2021. In recent years Luis has given lectures in Colombia, Peru, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador and the U.S. on public spaces. He is the author of the book "Building my Park - From Citizen Participation to the Administration of Public Space". Luis has a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a master’s degree in communication and education, both from the Monterrey Tec.

“The challenge of sustainability in urban parks, world’s best practices to share and learn.”
(14:00 - 14:30)

Cemil TEPE

Dr. Ahmet Cemil TEPE
Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality - Deputy Director of the Department of Parks, Gardens and Green Areas

Dr. Tepe has 18 years of public and private sector experience in landscape planning and design. He works as an administrative and technical manager in Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality, Parks, Gardens and Green Areas Department. He is responsible for the Istanbul green area management strategy document YAYSİS project, which is about Istanbul's 2050 green area vision. He also manages the PLAY ISTANBUL brand, which focuses on tactical urbanism studies and gamification of the city in Istanbul within the scope of the Istanbul Play Master plan. He is the chairman of the commission for national and international support funds that carry out various EU projects within the scope of ecologically based restoration, circular economy, clean green energy and tactical urbanism studies. In addition to all these, he conducts research to increase participation in support and volunteering in the management of green areas. Tepe, who has academic studies on green area management systems, quality of life and user satisfaction, has a doctorate degree in urban landscape planning.

“From a city with playgrounds to a playable city PLAY ISTANBUL”
(14:30 - 15:00)

Tactical urbanism studies are a new and missing subject in Turkey. In this context, new policies are being produced within the framework of the concepts of establishing child-space relationships, gamification, free play, flexible play and play value. The play is a local government initiative launched by the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality (Department of Parks, Gardens and Green Areas) in Istanbul in 2020. This initiative has set the goal of making the city a play-friendly place. In this context, the play master plan has been prepared. The plan includes various strategies, actions and pilot projects based on 6 quality criteria. Various studies are carried out to promote the right to play games. With the vision of Play Istanbul, all of Istanbul is treated as a playground and the aim is to spread the play all over the city (on ferries, buses, stops, squares and streets). In addition, the transformation of all existing playgrounds has begun, taking into account both material and play value. In this presentation, tactical urbanism studies will be evaluated in terms of municipality, as an example of the projects carried out within the framework of the Play Istanbul vision.

Admission is free for all LIF 2023 visitors and WUP Symposium attendees who register online until 15.11.2023.

For the free online registration please click