Green Growth: Increasing Resilience in Cities Through the Delivery of Green Infrastructure-based Solutions

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Environment, Education and Development

Abstract

Green infrastructure (GI) delivers a range of crucial environmental processes and benefits to urban populations. GI also has the potential to play a key role in 'climate proofing' cities. Despite a wealth of scientific understanding on the importance of GI, the implementation and uptake of GI in new developments in the UK is lacking. Through a dialogue and exchange of knowledge with project partners from public, private and charity organisations, this project will develop and test a route map which translates GI scientific research into a practical and applicable user interface. Central to the development of the route map is the identification of user knowledge needs and an exploration of the current perceived barriers to GI uptake. The route map will facilitate the integration of GI science into user organisations, using Manchester as an exemplar city. Crucially, this project will also develop institutional embeddedness in project partners and other key stakeholders to utilise and apply GI science knowledge within user organisations. Through the co-production of knowledge, project partners will enhance their research literacy, thus enabling them to access, assess, translate and integrate GI science in the planning, design, delivery and funding of new developments in Manchester and beyond. It is envisaged that the approach implemented in this project will be adopted by other organisations and stakeholders, and in doing so, will help multifunctional GI-based solutions to become part of business-as-usual city growth in new developments.


Key words
Green Infrastructure; Barriers; Knowledge Exchange; Decision Tree; Research Literacy; Institutional Embeddedness; Manchester


Project Partners
Manchester: A Certain Future - Community Interest Company
Manchester City Council - Local government organisation
Building Design Partnership - International urban design practice
Red Rose Forest - Charitable organisation

Planned Impact

Who will benefit from this research?

This project directly address some of the difficulties developers, policy makers and practitioners have in incorporating green infrastructure (GI) into current and future developments. "It is frustrating that despite the growing scientific evidence of the economic, social, as well as environmental benefits of GI, this knowledge has not led to a greater take-up of GI implementation" [Letter of Support (LoS) from Red Rose Forest]. It has cross-sector end-user support and who are formally embedded as Project Partners and who have been instrumental in developing and steering the project formation from its inception, leading to a genuine co-production of knowledge from this project. The project also benefits from access to a comprehensive network of UK beneficiaries and end-users through the project partners' networks [e.g. LoS from Manchester City Council], and will enable the results from this project to be disseminated widely across the UK. "BDP's view is that this is not unique to Manchester and that the built environment industry in the UK requires significant capacity building and up-skilling to enable it to properly embed GI-based solutions" [LoS from Building Design Partnership]. Key beneficiaries are: those concerned with urban planning policies and practice (Manchester City Council, and Manchester: A Certain Future), stakeholders involved in master-planning and design of new urban developments (Building Design Partnership) and those involved in the practical implementation of urban GI (Red Rose Forest).


How will they benefit from this research?

The project will provide end-users with an improved understanding of the barriers and complexities of user uptake of GI and the integration of science into decision making. It will immediately provide end-users with new insights that can make a significant contribution to local and regional planning processes e.g. Manchester Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy [Manchester City Council LoS], and support a range of specific actions within these plans [Manchester: A Certain Future LoS]. The engagement strategies in this project will empower partners to develop institutional embeddedness of GI into their practises, and act as a mechanism to showcase existing and ongoing examples of good practice to a wider audience.


What will be done to ensure that they benefit from this research?

Knowledge exchange will be immediate and reflective. Knowledge will be co-produced, with project partners continuing to be involved at every stage of the research project; from support already provided in defining the research objectives, to direct involvement in workshops, meetings, and stakeholder interviews, through to advocacy with dissemination of the final project outputs.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Identification of GI barriers and needs workshop
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description Seeing is Believing (SiB) Workshops
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description H2020-SCC-2016-2017 (Smart and Sustainable Cities)
Amount € 12,795,900 (EUR)
Organisation European Union 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 06/2017 
End 06/2022
 
Title Database of communication themes used in Green Infrastructure science 
Description This database records the themes used by scientific researchers to communicate GI research. The database was populated by a blind review process undertaken by the research team. The outputs were then incorporated within a survey targeted to practice based users which assessed the viability of current GI messages . This enabled the team to gain an understanding the degree to which there is a gap between scientific communication and practice needs. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact This database and associated survey work enabled the team to gain an understanding of the degree to which there is a gap between scientific communication and practice needs. The results revealed a significant disparity between scientific perception of 'need' and 'need' as identified by those working with GI on the ground. 
 
Description Partnership with Building Design Partnership (BDP) 
Organisation Building Design Partnership
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution BDP are an international design practice consisting of architects designers, engineers and urbanists. They are strongly linked to private sector development networks and through a relationship with Manchester City Centre management company (City-Co) have an interest in the opportunities and barriers to urban greening. The research team has supported this area of focus through survey work centred on demystifying GI terms and definitions for practice facing actors and through knowledge exchange events (Seeing is Believing workshops) showcasing GI innovations in the Manchester area. The research team is currently supporting this partnership through interview work based on overcoming GI barriers.
Collaborator Contribution As a highly innovative urban design practice, BDP have been able to provide the research team with access to key urban pioneers within the city and have contributed to the development of a portfolio of best practice Gi interventions within the city. These directly informed activities undertaken within the Seeing is Believing knowledge exchange events. As Steering Group Members, they have also helped inform research direction and have assisted in the design of survey work. They are currently assisting in the identification of interview participants.
Impact The partnership with BDP has enabled the advancement of a survey demystifying GI terms and definitions and 2 Seeing is Believing (SiB) knowledge exchange events showcasing best practice.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Partnership with City of Trees 
Organisation City of Trees
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution City of Trees (formerly Red Rose Forest) is a Community Forest Organisation for central and western Greater Manchester. They are actively involved in green place-making with a view to delivering multiple GI benefits. As an organisation responsible for ground level delivery, the research team has worked with City of Trees to try and explore and overcome barriers to spatial transformation. To date this has centred on seeking to demystify GI awareness through an on-line terms and definitions survey, through the delivery of two Seeing is Believing (SiB) workshops showcasing opportunities for urban greening. The research team is currently supporting this partnership through interview work based on overcoming GI barriers.
Collaborator Contribution City of Trees have access to expertise which straddles both the natural and social sciences. As such they have been able to advise on research direction (through steering group meetings), survey needs/direction and have inputed directly into case study identification and presentation as part of the Seeing is Believing knowledge exchange events. City of Trees are currently assisting in the interview phase of research by enabling access to key network contacts.
Impact The partnership with City of Trees has helped to clarify research approach, support the development and execution of an online GI terms and definitions survey and has helped facilitate 2 (Seeing is Believing) Knowledge Exchange Events.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Partnership with Manchester City Council (MCC) 
Organisation Manchester City Council
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution This partnership has enabled the academic research team to use existing knowledge and emerging research findings to support the Manchester City Council Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy (developed with MCCA) and to support the Manchester Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan. To date, this has primarily centred on knowledge exchange activities (Seeing is Believing events) to raise awareness of GI opportunities amongst public and private sector built environment decision makers and the use of survey activities geared toward de-mystifying GI terminology. The research team is currently supporting this partnership through interview work based on overcoming GI barriers.
Collaborator Contribution MCC is the local Government organisation for Manchester. It consists of 96 councillors across 32 electoral wards. The partnership has enabled the research team to obtain knowledge and advice on the relationship between GI development and the wider spatial planning context. This has afforded insights into the tensions between economic growth priorities and climate change adaptation and mitigation needs. This is currently informing workshop and interview activities which seek to unpack GI barriers and opportunities with public and private sector decision makers. MCC have also provided access to key stakeholder networks which were utilised as part of Seeing is Believing (SiB) knowledge exchange events and provided access to practice based speakers. As Steering Group Members, they have also helped inform research direction.
Impact MCC have advised and contributed to a stakeholder survey exploring GI terms and definitions and have contributed directly (through site identification and speaker provision) to 2 Seeing is Believing Events (SiB).
Start Year 2016
 
Description Partnership with Manchester Climate Change Agency (MCCA) (formally Manchester A Certain Future (MACF) 
Organisation Manchester City Council
Department Manchester A Certain Future
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution This partnership has enabled the academic research team to use existing knowledge and emerging research findings to support the Manchester City Council Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy and to advise on green/blue space interventions and future coproduction opportunities. Adam Barker (PI) and Anna Gilchrist (Co-I) both maintain advisory roles on the MACF Green and Blue Infrastructure Group.
Collaborator Contribution MCCA are the dominant policy advocates for Green and Blue Infrastructure within the Manchester City region. As such, they have brought an understanding of city-wide strategic commitments to the project as well as access to both public and private sector built environment networks. They are involved in all Work Package phases and to date have acted as key brokers in supporting links to practice based initiatives. These links aided Seeing is Believing (SiB) events facilitated by Business in the Community (BITC) and discussed elsewhere. They also advised on and contributed to survey work exploring use of GI terms and definitions and as Steering Group Members, they have also helped inform research direction. They are currently assisting in the identification of key participants for the interview phase of research.
Impact The partnership with MCCA has supported the completion of a GI survey reviewing GI terms and definitions and the identification of interventions used as part of 2 Seeing is Believing (SiB) Events. These activities both explored the interface between the natural and social sciences.
Start Year 2016
 
Description Identification of GI barriers and needs workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact 35 practice based actors attended a project related workshop geared to exploring GI needs and priorities. The event consisted of the dissemination of results to date and a series of mixed group exercises centring on problem definition and urban design visioning. These promoted the discussion of the knowledge and resource needs of practitioners for engaging with GI and the spatial identification of GI challenges. The workshop promoted peer-to-peer learning and enabled an understanding of further research challenges to be co-produced. Participants reported an enhanced sense of ownership of the subject area and an interest in participation in the next research phases (master class events and interviews).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description NERC research/practice Green Infrastructure brokerage workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact This event took the form of a knowledge sharing and brokerage event for academics and practice based actors involved in GI. The activity was supported by NERC, hosted by Professor Alistair Scott, and provided an opportunity for NERC funded GI Innovation Grant holders to disseminate and debate research outputs with end users. My role was to represent the NERC funded Green Growth project as part of the event.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Seeing is Believing Event 1 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The activity (the first of two linked events) was facilitated by Business in the Community (BiTC) (as a sub-contractor) with the support of the research team and project partners. The activity aimed to engage built environment professionals (those responsible for delivering built environment changes) with a view to enhancing awareness of the contribution green infrastructure can make to urban areas. The event consisted of the showcasing of different types of green infrastructure interventions in walking tour and workshop format. Around 20 delegates attended and were given the opportunity to learn from site-based expert-led presentations and to discuss approaches in peer groups. Delegates reported enhanced appreciation of GI options and expressed an interest in further engagement.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
 
Description Seeing is Believing Event 2 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact The activity (the second of two linked events) was facilitated by Business in the Community (BiTC) (as a sub-contractor) with the support of the research team and project partners. The activity aimed to engage business investors (those responsible for funding built environment changes) with a view to enhancing awareness of the contribution green infrastructure can make to urban areas. The event consisted of the showcasing of different types of green infrastructure interventions in walking tour and workshop format. Around 20 delegates attended and were given the opportunity to learn from site-based expert-led presentations and to discuss approaches in peer groups. Delegates reported enhanced appreciation of GI options and expressed an interest in further engagement.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017