Natural Capital: Investing in a Green Infrastructure for a Future City, published in December, is a blueprint for how the next mayor can ensure investment in and maintenance of green infrastructure in London. It was written by the Green Infrastructure Task Force, a group established by current mayor Boris Johnson following the publication of his London Infrastructure Plan 2050.
That plan recognised that green infrastructure, from street trees and parks to green roofs and SUDS, provides numerous benefits including improving health, mitigating flooding, cleaning air and water, cooling the city and enhancing biodiversity. It called for green infrastructure to become as integral to the city as its transport, energy and water infrastructure.
This new report outlines the changes to policy, governance, valuation and funding that are needed to make that happen, explaining: "This will require more than simply maintaining and improving the use and aesthetics of London's existing green spaces. We need to reconsider the roles and purposes of many of our urban green spaces (for example, by combining recreation with flood risk management, or heritage with urban cooling) and to consider their configuration, just as we regularly upgrade or modify other forms of infrastructure.
"We need to consider how to fill the gaps in our green infrastructure by incorporating it into buildings, and to explore how the grey infrastructure of our streets and public realm could be greened."
Among dozens of recommendations in the report, creating a Green Infrastructure Commissioner is seen as one of the most urgent priorities facing the mayor following May's election. The new commissioner would provide leadership and initiate a public-facing campaign to raise awareness of green infrastructure's value.
Other urgent priorities include improving the business case for investment by finding new ways to value green infrastructure, and further refining the All London Green Grid, the policy framework to promote its delivery across London.
The report also suggests the new mayor engage with the National Park City campaign to help get the public on board. Both candidates in the running, the Conservatives' Zac Goldsmith and Labour's Sadiq Khan, have publicly backed the National Park City campaign.
Collaboration will also be key to the strategy. The report says regional and sub-regional governance should be improved to coordinate the effort of local authorities and other owners of green space, while organisations such as Public Health England and Transport for London will be encouraged to collaborate on green infrastructure plans.
The mayor should also establish new funding models that compensate for environmental loss or degradation, leverage private sector finance, and potentially encourage more philanthropic giving, the report says.
With an election approaching, it is important to remember the city's residents care deeply about the cause, with London's green spaces, trees and waterways an important part of people's daily lives, according to Task Force chairman and deputy mayor for environment and energy Matthew Pencharz.
"The recent campaign to declare London a National Park City has gained widespread public and political support, demonstrating the high level of interest in London's environment. Implementing the recommendations of the Task Force's report will help deliver a more coherent, efficient green infrastructure that can create a more attractive, better connected, healthier, and more resilient city that people can take pride in."
2050 vision: London must maintain its green status
• London should maintain its status as one of the world’s greenest capital cities
• 50 per cent of administrative area should be green infrastructure, requiring 9,000ha more green cover
• Increase tree cover from 20 per cent to 30 per cent of the city
• 80 per cent of Londoners to be walking, jogging or cycling at least 2 miles per day
• Surface water flows into sewer network reduced by at least 25 per cent
• EU standards on water quality met for London’s rivers
• 20 per cent of London’s area designated as of high wildlife value
Did you find this article useful? Why not subscribe to the magazine? Please call 08451 55 73 55 for more information or visit www.haysubs.com