10-03-2020 / Regreen Project

Bring back the nature to where the people are, re-green our cities

By Sandra Vlašić, Green Energy Cooperative, November 2019

It is crystal clear, we must adapt to climate change. It is not the question anymore can we do it, but how to do it? One way, so dear to me as a biologist is to learn from nature and bring it back closer to where we live, where the heart is – to our cities. To clean air. To drainage heavy rain waters. To decrease heat wave-effects and cool down. All these are natural functions of nature, we should learn from that and use it more in our urban systems. Nature is a complex system, so are the cities. We want to find the way to interweave them because we know that solutions based on nature can address many challenges within cities.

Why cities? Cities as two-way hot-spots

Nowadays more than half of world population live in urban areas, but towards 2050’s it will be more than three quarters and there will be many more challenges brought by climate crises and degraded nature as a result of our human activities. Cities are hot-spots for both challenges and solutions, so we have to experiment and innovate the cities’ systems. That is where most of people are.

St. Kjeld as one example of “the how?”

One inspiring example we learned about just on our way to REGREEN’s kick-off meeting is St. Kjeld, one of the first urban climate-quartier in Copenhagen, built as a climate adaptation measure in the city. What is special with St. Kjeld is that the functions of nature and specific plants species are used instead of human-built technical infrastructure to help with drainage of heavy rainwaters and to prevent flooding of the streets and squares but also to store water in dry periods and cool people chilling in the park while kids are playing. These green islands help as well to reduce urban heat islands in warm summer days – less concrete and bricks substituted by greens mean lower surface that absorb and radiate back the heat. More greens cool the cities naturally. Why don’t we use it more?

Nature-based solutions or NBS can provide one-third of cost-effective climate mitigation!

NBS or green infrastructure is more cost-efficient, it is 2-4 times cheaper compared to costs of “grey” unit of function or construction. Researchers indicate that NBS can provide over one-third of the cost-effective climate mitigation needed between now and 2030 to stabilize warming to below 2 °C.

What can it be in our cities? It can be green roofs or green facades on city buildings. It can be green parking lots and children playgrounds instead of asphalt or artificial pavements often made of plastics. It can be urban gardens and larger parks with many tiny spots for birds and insects, so important pollinators. It is important that they resemble and function naturally as much as possible, not to create technical solutions only covered by green but under surface consuming lot of energy to keep them going. Not every green-looking solution is a nature-based solution.

The life in cities depends on biodiversity surrounding the urban core but also entering and making an important part of the urban core. With ReGreen we shall learn and know more about what kind of solutions suit us most, why, what are the benefits and values for our society, for people, not only economy. So let’s do it together, let’s Re-Green our cities! Visit our webpage, subscribe to our newsletter, follow our social and share with us good examples of nature-based solutions where you live or would like to live!