Mitigating and adapting to climate change: Multi-functional and multi-scale assessment of green urban infrastructure

Submitted by Matthias Demuzere 3rd September 2014 8:49


Abstract

In order to develop climate resilient urban areas and reduce emissions, several opportunities exist starting from conscious planning and design of green (and blue) spaces in these landscapes. Green urban infrastructure has been regarded as beneficial, e.g. by balancing water flows, providing thermal comfort. This article explores the existing evidence on the contribution of green spaces to climate change mitigation and adaptation services. We suggest a framework of ecosystem services for systematizing the evidence on the provision of bio-physical benefits (e.g. CO2 sequestration) as well as social and psychological benefits (e.g. improved health) that enable coping with (adaptation) or reducing the adverse effects (mitigation) of climate change.

The multi-functional and multi-scale nature of green urban infrastructure complicates the categorization of services and benefits, since in reality the interactions between various benefits are manifold and appear on different scales. We will show the relevance of the benefits from green urban infrastructures on three spatial scales (i.e. city, neighborhood and site specific scales). We will further report on co-benefits and trade-offs between the various services indicating that a benefit could in turn be detrimental in relation to other functions. The manuscript identifies avenues for further research on the role of green urban infrastructure, in different types of cities, climates and social contexts. Our systematic understanding of the bio-physical and social processes defining various services allows targeting stressors that may hamper the provision of green urban infrastructure services in individual behavior as well as in wider planning and environmental management in urban areas.

Highlights

  • We compile quantitative and qualitative evidence on the benefits of green urban infrastructure (GUI).
  • We review and assess empirical evidence on both biophysical and social benefits of GUI.
  • The paper proposes an assessment matrix and discusses the co-benefits and trade-offs from GUI.
  • We demonstrate that the categorization and definition of the spatial and institutional scales has practical advantages.
  • Further research of GUI benefits in specific climate, social contexts and across scales is needed.

Suggested citation

Demuzere, M., Orru, K., Heidrich, O., Olazabal, E., Geneletti, D., Orru, H., Bhave, A.G., Mittal, N., Feliu, E., Faehnle, M., 2014. Mitigating and adapting to climate change: Multi-functional and multi-scale assessment of green urban infrastructure. Journal of Environmental Management 146, 107–115. doi:10.1016/j.jenvman.2014.07.025

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