What is keeping us from using green and blue infrastructure as the backbone for nature based solutions making human dominated landscapes more liveable and more sustainable?
The Biodiversa-funded ENABLE project (Enabling Green and Blue Infrastructure Potential in Complex Social-Ecological Regions) has followed this question over the past three years. It addressed systemic factors, including infrastructures, institutions and individual perception and appraisal, framing the use and management of green-blue infrastructure (GBI) that constrain the flow of benefits from these GBI to urban residents, and that skew the distribution of benefits.
We found that systemic barriers may display unwanted resilience (cf. Elmqvist et al., 2019), which then needs to be reduced or bypassed to transform the benefit supply of the urban ecosystems. However, the same systemic factors, configured differently, can enable flows of GBI benefits and enhance their fair distribution. See Fig. 1: The green and blue infrastructure components and their different ecological qualities provide the first necessary precondition for ecosystem services. Systemic factors (the purple boxes) can enable or disable the flow of ecosystem services and thus influence translation of ecosystem services into various benefits to beneficiaries (the red box). Downward oriented arrows represent the feedback from beneficiaries and other actors (the red arrows) and different filters (the two-way purple arrows) that can influence either other filters or the green and blue infrastructure components that underlie ecosystem service supply. These dynamics are then embedded in larger scale change exemplified in the article (but not necessarily restricted to) land-use change at a regional scale and environmental change at a global scale.
Fig. 1: The systems model. 1
During this workshop we will briefly present key insights from the ENABLE project (5min pitches) in order to discuss their wider implications, including
(a) the conceptualization of multiple interacting systemic filters and the complexity of temporal and spatial urban socio-ecological dynamics,
(b) the role of integrated and interdisciplinary assessment and evaluation frameworks for ES resilience and the fair distribution of GBI benefits in the face of spatio-temporal dynamics and feedback loops,
(c) problem-driven inter-and trans-disciplinary and cross-scale collaboration, co-creation, learning and knowledge integration as a foundation to resilient and more fair urban transitions.
We intend to discuss the way systemic filters are interrelated beyond the horizon of the ENABLE case studies. We hope to orchestra a condensed dialog within this workshop drawing on scientific-conceptual as well as practical-experienced-driven input.
1 Andersson E., Langemeyer J., Borgström S., McPhearson T., Haase D., Barton D., Davis M., Kronenberg J., Naumann S., Röschel L., Stange E., Baró, F. (2019). Enabling Green and Blue Infrastructure to Improve Contributions to Human Well-being and Equity in Urban Systems. BioScience 58. DOI: 10.1093/biosci/biz058