Concepts related to green infrastructure

GI-related concepts

The concept of green infrastructure can be linked to a number of related concepts, which are introduced in more detail below.

Nature-based Solutions (NbS)

Nature-based solutions are solutions to societal challenges that are inspired and supported by nature, which are cost-effective, simultaneously provide environmental, social and economic benefits, and help build resilience. They focused on delivering societal and biodiversity benefits through ecosystem services. NBS bring more, and more diverse, nature and natural features and processes into cities, landscapes and seascapes, through locally adapted, resource-efficient and systemic interventions. The link between NBS and GI is that both use generally the same principles, concepts, and practical approaches – therefore, NBS can be considered part of green and blue infrastructure networks. More information is available at DG Research and Innovation.

Ecosystem-based adaptation (EbA)

Ecosystem-based adaptation is defined as "the use of biodiversity and ecosystem services as part of an overall adaptation strategy to help people to adapt to the adverse effects of climate change.” [CBD 2009]. The EU Adaptation Strategy, the EU’s central strategy for climate adaptation, recognises multiple benefits of ecosystem-based approaches to adaptation. Green infrastructure measures that contribute to climate adaptation can be considered EbA measures. They include a variety of interventions to address adaptation challenges such as high temperatures, changing rainfall and extreme weather patterns, higher risk for certain natural disasters, erosion, and others. Examples of interventions that constitute both EbA and GI measures include green roofs and facades, floodplain restoration, and restoration of natural sedimentation processes to adapt coasts to sea-level rise. More information is available on the CLIMATE-ADAPT website.

Natural Water Retention Measures (NWRM)

Natural Water Retention Measures are multi-functional measures that aim to protect water resources and address water-related challenges by restoring or maintaining ecosystems as well as natural features and characteristics of water bodies using natural means and processes. The main goal of NWRM is to enhance the retention capacity of aquifers, soil, and aquatic and water dependent ecosystems with a view to improve their status. NWRM interventions form a part of green and blue infrastructure networks. They improve the quantitative and qualitative status of water bodies, and reduce vulnerability to floods and droughts. The restored ecosystems also contribute both to climate change adaptation and mitigation. More information is available at NWRM.EU.

Ecosystem-based Disaster Risk Reduction (ecoDRR)

The European Commission promotes ecosystem-based approaches that contribute to the conservation, enhancement and restoration of biodiversity, ecosystems and ecosystems services in urban, rural, coastal and natural areas for the purpose of disaster risk reduction. These initiatives constitute a positive and cost-efficient way of supporting disaster risk reduction and adaptation to climate change, while often providing significant co-benefits in terms of climate change mitigation or human health, safety and well-being. Green infrastructure that benefits disaster risk reduction can be characterised as ecoDRR. More information is available at DG DEVCO.

Natural Capital and Natural Capital Accounting

Natural Capital is defined by the European Commission as “biodiversity, including ecosystems that provide essential goods and services, from fertile soil and multi-functional forests to productive land and seas, from good quality fresh water and clean air to pollination and climate regulation and protection against natural disasters” [European Commission 2014]. Natural Capital is a way of conceptualising GI that links it to other types of capital, making it easier to integrate into economic debates and argumentation. Natural Capital Accounting is an approach to value the goods and services provided by biodiversity. It is a tool to measure the changes in the stock of natural capital at a variety of scales and to integrate the value of ecosystem services into accounting and reporting systems at Union and national level. It is an alternative indicator that complements and goes beyond GDP to monitor the sustainability of socio-economic progress. It links to the green infrastructure concept by allowing for the benefits of green infrastructure to be expressed in economic terms. More information is available at DG Environment.