Create Blue-Green Cities through Social Innovation and International Collaboration

Blue green public space in Wielwijk Dordrecht, The Netherlands

Blue and Green Infrastructures (BGI) comprises an approach to climate resilience for cities that mimics nature’s potential to deal with flooding. BGI supports existing grey infrastructure to cope with extreme weather events (reducing flood risk by 30%) and improves urban liveability. Research (TEEB, 2015) shows that BGI benefits outweigh costs by a factor of 2 to 10. However, widespread implementation is hampered by financial and governance complexities.

BGI implementation and maintenance barriers

The main barriers of BGI implementation and maintenance are finding initial investment capital, developing a lifetime maintenance and funding regime, and including the additional liveability benefits such as recreation space in decision making. However, due to the finite capacity, and the costly and inflexible nature of existing grey infrastructures, new approaches for the implementation of BGI have to be developed. BGI infrastructures can complement grey infrastructure legacies to achieve better flood-reducing performance, deliver ecosystem services, and improve the liveability of cities.

Social innovation and transnational collaboration as solutions

Transnational collaboration (transnational learning and expert teams) and social innovation (collaborative governance strategies) as two innovative notions can help to overcome these BGI implementation barriers. The former indicates the sharing of needs and strengths among entities (such as governments) and in this way accelerating learning and actual implementation. The second approach empowers multiple stakeholders to contribute (in kind, funds) to design, construction and maintenance of BGIs. SI requires a new way of working for cities and valuation of multiple benefits together with communities.

Based on this vision, Bax & Company co-initiated and coordinates an innovation project on Blue Green Infrastructure. It comprises a transnational city-to-city exchange programme of 10 cities and 6 leading research institutes of different countries: the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, UK, Sweden, Norway. Through peer learning it brings the local technical and social innovation capacities needed to overcome barriers for implementation.

The project helps to develop and implement relevant BGI pilot projects at 10 target sites by involving stakeholders in a value-based decision-making. Subsequently, these pilot projects develop BGI climate change adaptation solutions that are financially feasible and can be incorporated in urban planning approaches. Lessons will be shared so that our innovative approaches will truly contribute to the widespread adoption of BGI in cities!

If you are interested in hearing more about our work in these areas, please contact us.

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