Project budget6 380 472 €
ERDF amount3 828 283 €
A clear knowledge gap exists for local authorities (LAs) that prevents them from deploying green infrastructure (GI) on a scale that enables urban landscapes to adapt to the future impacts of climate change and build more sustainable communities. Cities and towns are not investing in GI and the valuation tools for justifying GI on economic, social, cultural and environmental grounds are simply not being used by LAs, who instead rely on EU and national subsidies or deliver GI projects on a ‘one off’ basis. The exceptions are capital/larger cities (populations > 550,000 approx.) that have access to more finance and resources than smaller urban areas. Urban areas < 550,000 people are not investing in GI. Valuation tools for GI are simply not being used and LAs lack the ability to properly account for the direct cash benefits of GI. LAs need to be enabled to overcome market barriers to using their own city-finance to fund GI climate investments and step away from subsidy dependence.
To enable LAs in the 2 Seas to use their own ‘city’ finance to fund green infrastructure (GI) climate investment programmes*, reducing and removing the reliance on subsidies to fund GI projects in cities and towns. The objective is to mainstream a self-financing method for LAs to fund GI projects, by demonstrating that they can contribute a positive net gain to a LA’s bottom line. We will enable more investment for adaptation to climate change measures by showing how LAs can acquire direct and ‘cash’ benefits as a result of their GI climate investment, whilst also benefitting from indirect and non-cash benefits – the added value of GI (social, community, environmental).
* Defined as types of GI and eco-system based solutions that can be deployed to build climate resilience to flooding, drought and heat stress across an urban landscape and delivered on more than a ‘one-off’ project/development (i.e. a pipeline of GI projects).
The main output will be a new Business Model that enables LAs in the 2 Seas to understand how they can self-finance GI climate investments and reduce dependency on subsidies to build climate resilience in their towns and cities by (WP1). The project will also deliver:
- Step-by-step methodology and approval process (toolkit) for LAs to apply the Business Model to their own GI climate investments (WP1)
- Delivery of 7 GI pilot projects (2x BE, 1x FR, 2x NL, 2x UK) that help develop, test and validate the Business Model (WP3)
- Nature Smart Capacity Building Programmes that builds capacity of decision-makers at 75 LAs to help them apply the direct benefits and ‘cash’ benefits of GI climate investments to their own GI projects (WP2 and WP5)
- 7 new strategies (1x each City Partner) detailing how they will increase the amount of green space in their urban area between 2020 and 2050 providing a long-term purpose for the Business Model and work together as ‘Green Twinned Cities’ (WP2)
Cross border approach
All cities and towns within the 2 Seas fall within our target audience (urban areas with populations of < 550,000) and struggle with justifying the economic investment required for GI climate investments with their own finance. 2 Seas SWOT analysis shows that the region has high economic vulnerability to climate change, while there is low awareness of its associated risks and threats. Our Partners will co-develop a common solution that overcomes the market barriers, bringing together a diverse range of urban and academic skills, expertise, approaches and different national and local systems (finance, legal, approval) to help LAs self-finance GI climate investments. We will co-design a Business Model, methodology and approval process for use by LAs across the 2 Seas, with each Partner helping to develop, test and validate the project outputs and provide input from the 7 Pilots, whilst working jointly to disseminate our results across the 2 Seas.
The project has made good progress during 2020 & is on course to complete all project Outputs by the new project end date of August 2022.
The main focus of the project is the Development of a Business Model (BM) that local authorities (LAs) can use to justify the use of green infrastructure solutions, over more traditional, grey approaches.
To ensure the BM is grounded in the needs of LAs, 53 semi-structured interviews were completed in 2020 with 15 LAs from the 2 Seas region. The results of these interviews have been published in a report & further summarised in a complimentary brochure (available from the NSCiti2S website).
Significant progress has been made in testing the BM in the Municipality of Kapelle & the City of Bruges. The latter, supporting the decision making for a high profile ‘quick win investment’ which will act as the catalyst for a bigger 10-12m Euro project to open up the Kerkebeek Stream.
A concept note detailing how the BM will work has been developed & approved by Partners. The finalisation of this note brought together the experience to date in testing the BM with investment pilots, the results of a GI Valuation Tool review & the semi-structured interviews. This note is has been a crucial step in reaching consensus amongst Partners on the development of a BM that meets the needs of LAs with populations <550,000. The project is on course to produce the first draft of the BM by June 2021.
Good progress has been made for a number of the pilots. The realisation of the iconic & innovative Urban Waterbuffer in the Cromvliet Park has been completed in The Hague ensuring the neighbourhood is more resilient to flooding, heat & drought in the future. In the Province of Antwerp, 5 of the 7 ‘sub’ pilots have been completed (many implementing more GI than originally foreseen) to improve connectivity of these areas for local residents whilst building climate resilience. However, Covid 19 has had an impact on the pilot delivery & progress has been delayed in the Kapelle, Southend-on-Sea & Lille. Careful management will ensure these pilots are delivered in time to ensure adequate testing of the BM.
The project has been involved in a number of external events to publicise the project, communicate work on the BM & build cross-border collaboration. In November, an Annual Exchange Event organised with the Cool Towns project was attended by 200 attendees from the 2 Seas region, Germany, Italy, the United States, Thailand & South Africa.