Green cities: urban infrastructures to effectively respond to climate change

Posted on

The fight against climate change resides in how we plan the cities of tomorrow. Cities are growing, they are causes of the changing climate and they suffer the consequences of climate change; but there are strategies to transform urban contexts in concrete solutions for Sustainable Development and a better quality of life, with economic, social and environmental benefits. Looking at nature-based solutions, the contribution of the CMCC Foundation to the Report to the French Prime Minister and the French Parliament “Des Solutions Fondées sur la Nature pour s’adapter au changement climatique”.

Urban settlements play a pivotal role in social and economic development as well as in changes at a global, national and local scale, representing one of the most important challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. With more than half of the world’s people living in urban areas, cities are among the main causes of climate change and, at the same time, they are suffering its negative consequences in several fields:  economics, socio-cultural, political and environmental. Climate projections over Europe based on the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) scenarios and the expected increase of population in urban areas highlight the importance of ensuring a proper functioning of cities, enabling them to cope with climate impacts, both in the short- and long-term, and avoiding negative consequences for society, economy and environment.

According to these objectives, the EU has identified the Ecosystem-based Approach (EbA) as a strategy to support the development of innovative and sustainable solutions for climate change adaptation in cities. In particular, the Objective 2 of “EU Biodiversity Strategy to 2020” identifies Green Infrastructure as a tool to preserve and restore ecosystems and their related services. Such a concept, developed since the mid-90s in the United States, has also recently spread across Europe. Green urban planning is rapidly assuming great importance as a key element in promoting climate change adaptation in cities, and this was confirmed by the “EU Strategy on Green Infrastructure” adopted in 2013.

On this topic, REMHI Division (Regional Models and geo-Hydrological Impacts) of the CMCC Foundation, within the Strategic Project “Urban-PRO”, is assessing the impacts of climate change on urban settlements and of suitable adaptation measures. REMHI has contributed in drafting the Report to the French Prime Minister and the French Parliament “Des Solutions Fondées sur la Nature pour s’adapter au changement climatique“, published in December 2019 by the Observatoire National sur les effets du réchauffement climatique (ONERC), with a paragraph entitled: “Les infrastructures vertes: des Solutions fondées sur la Nature pour l’adaptation des villes au changement climatique” (authors: Carmela Apreda, Alfredo Reder, Paola Mercogliano).

Through the description of three case studies, the work investigates the role of Green Infrastructures as a tool to support urban and territorial planning at different scales (city, district/ neighborhood, block/building), highlighting the successful elements of different approaches:

  • the effectiveness of the top-down approach in defining critical issues and local resources, which were integrated within the traditional urban planning tools, and the ability of local government to turn problems into opportunities for sustainable urban development (green belt of Vitoria-Gasteiz; Berlin StEP Klima adaptation plan);
  • the fundamental role of local communities in pushing the urban transformation process (bottom-up approach) by searching for funding sources and dialoguing with the local government (Pontilly neighborhood stormwater plan, New Orleans).

For more information, download the report Des Solutions Fondées sur la Nature pour s’adapter au changement climatique.

Start typing and press Enter to search

Shopping Cart