A workshop at the Open Urban Day - part of the European Week of Regions and Cities - discussed the benefits of incorporating green infrastructure in city planning.
More than 100 delegates from across Europe attended the workshop, where Huck spoke in his role as vice president of the European Landscape Contractors Association (ELCA). The association represents some 80,000 small and medium sized businesses in Europe's landscape gardening sector, and has 23 European national associations as members, including BALI. The sector currently generates an annual turnover of €30bn.
Urban green spaces remain a low priority for decision makers, despite UN predictions that urban populations are likely to increase by 75 per cent by 2050, Huck told delegates.
He argued that green cities can only be considered truly green if, in addition to 'green' technologies such as solar cells and electric cars, they offer a high percentage of accessible green space to mitigate the effects of CO2 emissions and climate change. These green spaces will also benefit wildlife and the cities' residents.
Huck argued that investment in quality urban green spaces will pay dividends by reducing pollution, flooding, and the urban heat island effect.
He also called for politicians, when they are looking at sustainable job creation and the 'green economy', to include the many landscape gardening businesses across Europe that create and maintain urban green spaces. An investment of €1bn in green infrastructure would, he argued, deliver 13,000-15,000 landscape gardening jobs and this should be considered alongside the contribution of businesses delivering low carbon technologies.
Citing the European Commission's recent revision of its biodiversity strategy - which indicated more work needs to be done to reach 2020 targets - Huck said that ELCA strongly supported the strategy and that increasing the amount of green space in cities would make a major contribution to helping the Commission reach those targets. And he invited countries not currently signed up to ELCA's 'Green City' initiative to join and strengthen the cause for more green spaces in cities across Europe and the world.