Urban green infrastructure (UGI) is a promising concept when developing multifunctional green space systems to address major challenges of urbanization such as increasing social cohesion, promoting the transition to a green economy, adaptation to climate change and conservation of biodiversity. In response to the European Commission’s Communication on Green Infrastructure from 2013, the GREEN SURGE project aimed to further advance the development of UGI in European cities by (i) strengthening the conceptual foundations of UGI, (ii) developing improved methods and tools for assessment of its state, benefits and governance and, (iii) applying these to build a stronger evidence base. This paper aims to provide an overall synthesis of the project’s main achievements.
GREEN SURGE adopted an inter- and transdisciplinary approach. Urban Learning Labs and focal Learning Alliances in five cities were instrumental for intensive collaboration between disciplines and across science and practice. Pan-European surveys, e.g. of planning and governance practice or human-nature interactions established the state-of-the-art across the continent and identified good practices.
The project consolidated green infrastructure planning and governance conceptually, and it mapped opportunities for better linking government-led planning with bottom-up initiatives for creating and managing UGI. It also introduced a framework for knowledge integration to support UGI valuation. Importantly, development and application of the concept of biocultural diversity gave new insights into human–nature relationships in multicultural urban societies. The results strongly call for more context-sensitive development of UGI that addresses the different needs and diverse cultural practices of people engaging with nature.
In a nutshell, GREEN SURGE showed that UGI indeed can make a major contribution to sustainable and resilient urbanisation. Transdisciplinary research in urban labs, if well-conceived, has shown to hold great potential to advance UGI concepts, methods, knowledge and practice.
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