EU backs green infrastructure

9th May 2013


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The European Commission will develop a new finance mechanism for green infrastructure projects in a bid to mainstream initiatives such as floodplain restoration

Strengthening natural processes to provide environmental benefits should become a systematic part of spatial planning, according to the European Commission in its new strategy to boost investment in green infrastructure.

In the document, the commission argues that infrastructure projects which use natural process, such as wetland areas absorbing rainfall, offer biodiversity benefits and are “often more cost-effective and durable” than traditional civil engineering solutions to issues such as flood prevention.

The commission concludes that green infrastructure principles should become a standard part of planning and development processes. However, it acknowledges that such projects are seen as complicated and risky by investors and commits itself to working with the European Investment Bank to create a new finance facility for projects by 2014.

“We should provide society with solutions that work with nature instead of against it,” said Janez Potočnik, EU environment commissioner. “Building green infrastructure is often a good investment for nature, for the economy and for jobs.”

Martina Mlinaric, senior policy officer at the European Environment Bureau, welcomed the move. “Making investments in green infrastructure will deliver significant benefits in both economic and ecological terms. The move from grey to green is vital to reaching the objectives which the EU set for 2020, and not only in the field of environment,” said Mlinaric.

The commission also pledges to create new guidance for member states by the end of 2013 to help them incorporate green infrastructure into policies on land-use, energy and climate change up to 2020, and to support more research into quantifying the benefits of green infrastructure.

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