Will ‘natural infrastructure’ increase Delta Cities’ climate adaptation measures?

Last week Director of the Nature Conservancy’s Securing Water Program Adam Freed authored a post in UBM’s Future Cities publication, on the future of cities’ access to water resources in the face of climate change, increased urbanization, and sea level rise.

Freed points out that over 90 percent of cities are on the coast, placing them at risk from both storm activity and sea level rise. And while cities for the most part have grey – or man-made – infrastructure in place to contain potential damages, Freed advocates a more natural approach, asserting that cities should incorporate “natural infrastructure” – wetlands, forests, and floodplains – for a truly resilient design.

“We cannot sustainably support the current pace of human and economic growth without changing the way cities are planned, built, operated, and financed,” Freed explains. “We must take steps to protect critical ecosystems and incorporate "natural defenses" into urban areas to reduce risk and vulnerability.”

The C40 Connecting Delta Cities Network aims to address these risks by developing mitigation and adaptation strategies. As Rotterdam’s Climate Proof program manager Arnoud Molenaar points out:

“…each delta city has its own strategy and approach, tailored to local priorities and challenges. This difference is exactly why developing and sharing knowledge and best practices is highly valuable – we learn a great deal from each other.”

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