The European Union adopted a new strategy aimed at promoting green infrastructure, and putting natural processes at the heart of its spatial planning. EU money will now encourage green solutions to infrastructure problems, such as allowing natural wetlands to absorb excess water from heavy rain, instead of building concrete flood protection infrastructure.
The package will allow stone beaches to receive preferential funding for coastal protection, and river banks and marsh areas to be chosen for soaking up floodwaters and reducing water pollution.
Green infrastructure is often cheaper and more durable than traditional civil engineering solutions, according to the EU’s statement, which also noted that heat waves can be mitigated by biodiversity-rich parks, green spaces and fresh air corridors.
Europe’s biodiversity has been hammered over the last 50 years by habitat loss, land degradation and fragmentation, due to the rapid expansion of cities and transport infrastructure. Theoretically, the new package will open the door to reversing this through the use of natural solutions that create jobs, and offer multiple health and environmental benefits.
Specifically, the new EU package proposes:
Upgrading access to finance for green infrastructure projects.
Supporting EU-level projects and carrying out an assessment of the options for an EU-wide green infrastructure network by the end of 2015.
Developing guidance before 2014 to show how green infrastructure can be integrated into policy over the next budgetary period.
Promoting green infrastructure in areas such as agriculture, forestry, nature, water, marine and fisheries, regional and cohesion policy, climate change mitigation and adaptation, transport, energy, disaster prevention and land use policies.
Improving research and data, and promoting innovative technologies.