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Blue-Green Infrastructure (BGI) (often in combination with grey infrastructure) is widely advocated as a concept and technology to achieve sustainable urban infrastructure (through both upgrading and replacement of grey infrastructure). Investments in sustainable urban infrastructure help to increase productive capacity and to lift economic growth rates, while improving the living conditions in cities and their resilience to address future climate risks. There is an urgent need to demonstrate at community level the economic sense to invest in sustainable urban infrastructure and to create an enabling environment for upscaling.

This will require:

Locally-led business models based on local knowledge and engagement to achieve maximum return on infrastructure investment (for the local stakeholders). This also requires strategic partnerships with local authorities, businesses and communities and with the main financial actors (investment banks, multilateral and bilateral concessional financiers and the private-sector utility operators and sometimes, co-financiers)

Demonstrating (and testing) BGI in real-life examples, encompassing decentralized systems (to collect and reuse solid waste and rainwater, treat wastewater and runoff pollution, create water retention and supply capabilities, and increase groundwater recharge); deploying blended blue-green-grey solutions as much as possible to solve problems of solid waste, water supply, sewage and flooding, facilitated by advanced technologies [such as advanced sensor networks, robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), etc].

Fostering peer learning between urban communities involved in these practical actions and demonstrations by empowering them to build collective knowledge and skills required to unlock these investment opportunities.

– Chris Zevenbergen
Professor of Flood Resilience of Urban Systems
IHE Delft Institute for Water Education

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