Europe is one of the most urbanised regions on earth with some 80% of Europeans likely to be living in urban areas by 2020. With the inevitable pressure on land use, there is an urgent need to rethink how nature and green spaces can be incorporated into urban landscapes, in both traditional and new more innovative ways, in order to improve the liveability of cities. In this regard, deployed effectively Urban Green Infrastructure (UGI) has the potential to deliver a wide range of social, environmental and economic benefits and can at the same time provide sustainable and regenerative solutions for current and future urban challenges. However, the term Urban Green Infrastructure (UGI) is still often misunderstood and its potential benefits underestimated, in such a way that current UGI projects quite often focus on a single purpose, such as enhancing air quality, and thus, they miss out on numerous other valuable benefits. Additionally, a lack of understanding of the wider values that UGI can deliver, and consequently the inability to articulate these benefits and values to support potential funders or decision makers, result in a loss of opportunities to fund and develop UGI initiatives.
Urban Green Infrastructure is now recognised as a key component of urban design and planning. Nevertheless, there is still a huge lack of understanding and, in reality, the incorporation of high-quality UGI within new developments and retrofits into existing areas is still limited. In order to unlock this potential, it is necessary to capture, understand and communicate the multifunctional values that UGI can provide to urban areas and communities in the initial stage of projects.
Several tools do already exist which seek to quantify the benefits of UGI. However, they are mainly orientated to a single UGI typology (e.g. green roofs) or to specific benefit areas (e.g. flood management). In this regard, the Green Values assessment framework can be deployed for a wide number of UGI assets as it has been designed by the Institute for Sustainability (IfS) to accommodate the needs of users, within European planning authorities, municipalities, and community groups, who want to build a business case for UGI projects. Specific consideration has been made for non-technical users in the design of the tool.
Users are encouraged to use the framework provided here as a starting point and then, by drawing on appropriate expertise, evolve it further to build a detailed investment case for their projects. In the case of gaps in terms of knowledge or availability of local data, users are encouraged to undertake further research (e.g. through the links and case studies provided in the tool under the key benefit categories). The tool includes a detailed user-guidance section, which helps users to build optimal and contextually specific business cases for UGI projects in their areas.
FACILITATORY (PUBLIC) BODIES:
environmental and sustainability department; green spaces department; planning and development department; health and social well-being department; water and sewerage management department
LOCAL TASK FORCE:
local or regional authority; professional expert; research; community group; business; entrepreneur
dense inner city; (sub-)urban communities; urban-rural interface; urban region; underused urban sites & building
MAIN NECESSARY RESOURCES ARE:
space; community trust; local knowledge; expert knowledge; monetary investments; public institutional set-up
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