Green Infrastructure in Urban Centres: Policy, Design and Practice

Submitted by Krista Lambert | published 21st Jun 2021 | last updated 6th Jun 2022

Climate Adaptation Training Annotation

  • Level: Introductory
  • Time commitment:  2.5 hours per week (12 weeks in total) - 30 hours total
  • Learning product: Online course 
  • Sector: multi-sector, infrastructure, urban planning, agriculture, forestry, tourism, natural resource management 
  • Language: English
  • Certificate available:  completion certificate; microcredential program in development
a building with plants and greenery embedded in the structure


Green infrastructure and related nature-based solutions are gaining widespread support as effective components of healthy city building as well as climate adaptation strategies. The course provides an overview of how GI systems work, the ecosystem services they can provide, and how they can be employed effectively.

The course has four parts that together provide a substantive overview of the current green infrastructure policy, design, and practice and the associated challenges and opportunities.

Each module will take up to three hours to complete. Active learning includes participation in discussion forums, reflective writing, quizzes and case studies. Additional resources are also provided in each module should you wish to pursue study beyond the scope of this program.

The Green Infrastructure in Urban Centres: Policy, Design and Practice course material is available using links below for self-learning but if you wish to attend an online course with the trainer find details here. 

Institutional background and trainers

Green Infrastructure in Urban Centres: Policy, Design and Practice by Joanna Ashworth and Nick Mead-Fox is licensed under CC BY 4.0  except where indicated. For external links to resources, review the rights and permission details.

This course is part of the Adaptation Learning Network: Inspiring Climate Action. This course is Creative Commons licensed and the content is free to use with attribution (for external links to resources, please review the rights and permission details).

This course is also offered as a facilitated online course by Simon Fraser University. You can find registration information on the Adaptation Learning Network Portal

Who would find this useful?

This course was designed for professionals from a range of disciplinary and professional backgrounds. The course is intended to inspire climate action and improve professional capacity for climate change adaptation.

Learning Material

Module 1: Defining Green Infrastructure

  • Examine the terminology used to describe green infrastructure systems,
  • Discuss what role green infrastructure has in addressing urban challenges.


Module 2: Motivations for the Grey-to-Green Transition

  • Examine the motivations behind green infrastructure systems and their potential for improving urban resilience to climate change and urban development.


Module 3: Leaders and Lessons of Green Infrastructure in Practice

  • Cite the factors that contribute to the success of a city’s efforts to implement green infrastructure by exploring methods used to employ and maintain green infrastructure and mitigate potential risks associated with its implementation.


Module 4: Design Principles of GI

  • Identify the basic design principles that make GI work and how design can inform site locations for GI

Module 5: Guidelines, Targets and Incentives

  • Examine the guidelines, targets and incentives used by municipal governments to guide GI design and implementation.


Module 6: GI and Building Resilience For Climate Change

  • Identify the mechanisms by which GI can improve climate resilience and adaptability and discuss examples of best practices.


Module 7: Green Infrastructure Governance

  • Gain familiarity with decision-making for GI implementation in different municipalities and the professionals involved in the process.


Module 8: Planning Principles and Communicating GI Solutions

  • GI Planning
  • Communicating GI Solutions


Module 9: Adaptive Management and GI

  • Discuss adaptive regulatory guidelines and GI implementation.


Module 10: Innovations in GI

  • Examine best practices and technologies that are pushing the boundaries of GI performance and planning.


Module 11: Regional Planning for Resilient Communities

  • Gain an understanding of the significance of regional planning for GI.


Module 12: Leadership for GI

  • Consider what kind of leadership can move the GI conversation forward.


Learning Outcomes

The course has four parts that together provide a substantive overview of the current green infrastructure policy, design, and practice and the associated challenges and opportunities.

  • Part One – The Grey to Green Transition explores the reasons that motivate cities, suburbs, and towns to adopt and expand GI systems, identifies the different types of GI and the multitude of benefits associated with them, and showcases successful employment of specific GI strategies. 
  • Part Two – Design and Implementation discusses the principles and practices behind successful GI design and implementation, identifies targets and guidelines used to regulate GI implementation, and considers the data needed to inform GI design and implementation decisions, and potential sources for the relevant data.
  • Part Three– Policy and Governance focuses on the policies, institutions, and systems that govern and drive green infrastructure employment in cities around the world, highlights specific tools and regulations for GI, and compares and contrasts GI policies and governance.
  • Part Four – Planning for Green Cities reviews recent advances and most innovative examples of GI design, science, and practice.  This section showcases bold views of what GI will offer cities in the future and how these progressive visions might be realized.