According to the latest studies, there will soon be 9 billion people inhabiting the earth, with two- thirds of them living in mega cities.
Fully vegetated cities seemed like a futuristic idea just a few years ago, they are now already becoming a reality that is fast developing, and all major cities are now including the green urban dimension to all future urban development plans.
Singapore as a nation is the leader when it comes to Urban Green Infrastructure. Urban Green Infrastructure is embedded in their laws, but also in the mindset of the people and they seem to be very focused on taking care of important, specific issues with which they may be faced in a very thoughtful, well-ordered way.
The laws in Singapore today have already been adapted so as to help solve those challenges by properly implementing Green Urban Infrastructure. Today every contractor/builder needs to fully compensate for any land degradation that results from a building project with real vegetated areas.
So if 70% of the land in use will be covered with a building, parking and paved surfaces and only 30% will be left green, then an additional 70% needs to be greened elsewhere. Singapore is working to solve this with green roofs, green facades, green parking spaces….
Laws like this can be demanding for investors, but at the same time they are also drivers for innovation, as they compel stakeholders to look for new, creative and innovative solutions.
Green roofs and green facades are just one part of the story – further development can also be seen on the ground. Underground cisterns are being replaced by innovative landscaping solutions that are not only helping to prevent floods by storing water, but also focus on bioremediation as one of the most effective ways of cleaning water that comes down from the streets, parkways and similar.
Like Singapore, big cities around the world are facing similar environmental issues. Europe, North America and Australia are all trying to follow routes like the one Singapore is taking. Despite the fact that federal laws are not yet in place or not as advanced as in Singapore we are, however, lucky that municipalities and companies that are looking to be more environmentally friendly and sustainable have created their own guidelines and sustainability targets and are thus leading the green way forward.
We see similar projects aimed at solving the same challenges in Scandinavia, the Benelux countries, Germany, the US and Canada, where cities like Stockholm, Hamburg, Washington DC and Toronto are but a few examples of how municipalities are leading the way forward together with corporations that understand the positive effects of Green Urban Infrastructure on people’s living and working standards.
Governments around the world do recognise the fact that there is a real need for a more coordinated approach when it comes to Green Urban Infrastructure. Big cities are becoming more densely populated, and if governments won’t lead with a clear position on Green Urban Infrastructure (on a global level), we will be overrun by buildings and roads, which consequently leads to uncontrolled storm-water, overheating, poor air quality and more.
The big advocates of Urban Green Infrastructure will still be municipalities, as they are responsible for the well-being of their residents –but governments should also be taking action, should provide clear regulative frameworks to key decision-makers and create effective guidelines for investors on how and where to implement sustainable green solutions for best results.
But they need to offer us some assurance that they will really start working on it, and incorporate our findings into regulations. It is my experience that it’s always nice to have some real moral support – but it is clear regulations, guidelines and supervision that will make things happen. We need to stop talking and start acting!”