• Natuur
  • Stedelijk

Co-creating Blue Green Infrastructure through social innovation for more climate-resilient cities

Clients: City of Dordrecht; IHE Delft; Erasmus University of Rotterdam, City of Antwerp; City of Ghent, Agency for Roads Bridges and Waters, Hamburg; Hamburg University of Technology, Construction Industry Research Information Association (CIRIA), City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council, Kent County Council, Aberdeen City Council, City of Bergen, Enfield, Royal College of Arts, University of Sheffield, City of Gothenburg

Date: 2017 – 2021

Location(s): Northern Europe

The BEGIN project, under Interreg North Sea programme focused on improving climate resilience in cities across the region. The project employed Blue Green Infrastructure (BGI) such as green corridors and rainwater harvesting to address urban challenges like flooding, heat islands and poor air quality. Emphasising city-to-city learning, the project brought together ten cities and other stakeholders from six North Sea Region countries—The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden, and Norway, including six research institutes for transnational cooperation that facilitated the exchange of expertise and experiences, accelerating the learning and implementation of of BGI. Social innovation focused on a needs-based co-creating of BGI projects, empowering stakeholders to actively participate and contribute to project outcomes.


Extreme weather like rainfall or drought can cause flooding, urban heat islands, poor air quality, threatening resident’s health and livelihoods. Whilst solutions do exist, they can often be hard to implement and knowledge can get stuck from city to city or city to resident.



Through transnational city-to-city learning and collaboration, the BEGIN project accelerated the implementation of Blue Green Infrastructure (BGI) by engaging local authorities, research institutes, and expert teams in joint design workshops and personnel exchanges. It emphasised value-based decision-making and socially innovative governance, focusing on empowering citizens and businesses throughout the BGI design, implementation, and maintenance stages. Additionally, the project promoted sustainable urban development through social innovation and collaborative governance strategies, fostering stakeholder co-creation and co-financing of BGI projects.


Development of 10 pilot sites via social innovation and stakeholder initiatives, facilitating knowledge exchange through City-to-City peer learning workshops and making cities greener, more liveable and more climate resilient. These efforts culminated in the creation of two policy briefs and heightened public awareness through press coverage and even an appearance on BBC TV, and winning the REGIOSTARS Public Choice Award 2021.

reduction in flood risk across pilot sites
0 %
pilot sites
in nature, health and ecosystem benefits in the next 20 years
0 m

Faced with flooding and heatwaves, a need emerged for blue green solutions to make cities more resilient. The BEGIN project decided that this BGI should be implemented following the needs of the people who lived there, inviting them to co-create in the greening of their city and enjoying all the benefits that come with it.

– Sofia Aivalioti, Innovation Consultant


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