E3: Is Green Always Better Than Gray?

Is it better to use green infrastructure solutions than gray ones for enhancing resilience? You might think that the answer is obvious: green infrastructure solutions are the best option. In fact, it’s not so clear-cut.

150612_cityscapeDifferent circumstances require different actions, depending on the finance that is available and the kind of territories in question. For example, the city of Essen is implementing integrated adaptation strategies in an attempt to mitigate environmental threats. These threats are principally an increase in storms and intense rainfall, which cause floods and constitute a health risk.

This specific case study was presented by Kai Lipsius – Manager of Climate Protection at the Environmental Agency in Essen. He explained the solutions adopted in his municipality to convert it from a coal and steel town to a modern, green residential and commercial city. Essen has used both green and gray infrastructure, such as courtyard planting, green corridors and renewal of existing buildings.

The same approach was adopted by New York City in restoring the Howard Beach in Queens after Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, as Joel Paque (Policy Advisor at The Nature Conservancy) explained.

At the end of the meeting an interesting question arose among the audience: what about those countries that don’t have the appropriate resources to confront certain environmental issues?

“The main solution could be investing in education and training specific qualified professionals that may help rising the politicians’ awareness about sustainable development solutions”,

suggested Maija Bertule (Program Adviser at the Center on Water and Environment).

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