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.
Since its start in September 2018, the Nature Smart Cities Project has made good progress in delivering planned deliverables which will culminate in the successful achievement of the project objectives by February 2022.
The main focus of the project is the Development of a Business Model that local authorities (LAs) can use to justify the use of ‘city finance’ to fund their urban greening programme. Many deliverables will come together to form the Business Model & a step-by-step methodology for the LA audience. To date the academic Partners have worked together to produce a report on the benefits of Green Infrastructure and a review of the financing options available to local authorities to fund urban greening programmes. A series of semi-structured interviews have also been started with LA staff from the Project Partners. The interviews will be brought together in a report which will detail experience in delivering green infrastructure including the benefits derived, barriers encountered in project delivery, information needed to gain political support, successful approval processes & the usefulness of valuation toolkits.
To support, test and validate the business model the project will deliver 7 investment pilots for Green Infrastructure across the UK, France, Belgium & the Netherlands. Despite a few of the pilots experiencing delays. For a number good progress has been made on the planning, public consultation and implementation of these pilots. For example, the pilot for the Province of Antwerp & Zuidrand region focusses on the delivery of 7 ‘mini’ GI climate investments by delivering permeable pathways that are both climate resilient & improve accessibility between urban areas. To date, 2 of these 7 ‘mini’ pilots has been completed. The City Partners have been working with the Academic Partners to ensure the information from the pilots is fed into the development & testing of the business model.
The capacity of LAs to utilise the Business model will be developed through the delivery of a capacity building programme in each of the project countries. Two test workshops have been held in the Netherlands & the UK to support the development of programme content. The first official workshop of the UK programme is scheduled for March 2020.
The project has a newly established website where users can find information regarding the project, the investment pilots, & a data library where all publications & outputs will be made available.