Green and Blue Space Adaptation for Urban Areas and Eco Towns (GRaBS)

Published on: 13/05/2011

The Green and Blue Space Adaptation for Urban Areas and Eco Towns (GRaBS) project aims to improve the regional decision and policy making process in relation to the planning and development of new and existing urban areas in eight EU member states in the context of climate change.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations are now at their highest for 3 million years and as a result urban areas are vulnerable to increased temperatures and flooding. Regional spatial planning and urban design can provide solutions to reduce vulnerability and risk. Green infrastructure including gardens, parks, productive landscapes, green corridors and green roofs and walls and blue infrastructure such as water bodies, rivers, streams, floodplains and sustainable drainage systems, play a vital role in creating climate resilient development, a role, which is currently not sufficiently recognised and utilised and lacks integration in main stream planning.

A key outcome of GRaBS will be a user-friendly and easily transferable and replicable strategic planning methodology together with a vulnerability and risk assessment tool available to all European regional and local municipalities. The project will also deliver a database of good practice green and blue space adaptation approaches and Expert Papers for dissemination throughout Europe. By advancing the knowledge and expertise of partner staff, decisions makers, politicians and communities, regional and local municipalities will be able to make a more informed and strategic response to climate change adaptation. In the long term, communities will reduce their vulnerability to the environmental, social and economic damage related to climate change impacts including extreme temperature increases and flooding incidents.

Policy Context

The GRaBS project has been made possible by the Interregional Cooperation Programme INTERREG IVC, financed by the European Union's Regional Development Fund. The Programme helps Regions of Europe work together to share experience and good practice in the areas of innovation, the knowledge economy, the environment and risk prevention. EUR 302 million is available for project funding but, more than that, a wealth of knowledge and potential solutions are also on hand for regional policy-makers.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

Working with the two initial partners in the early part of 2007, the TCPA developed an outline GRaBS project proposal, which was presented to UK local and regional government in order to gauge interest in, and relevance of, both the project idea and the proposed European-wide exchange of experience and knowledge.

The TCPA decided to offer to take on the Lead Partner role for the new project and together with the University of Manchester, the City District Geuzenveld Slotermeer (Amsterdam), the London Borough of Sutton and Southampton City Council began the process of an extended European partner search.

The aim was to find partners with a range of interests, cultures, experiences and needs, located in a range of climate zones. Towards the end of 2007 the Province of Genova, Etnambiente, the University of Catania (Italy), the City of Malmo (Sweden), the Municipality of Kalamaria (Greece), the Regional Environmental Centre for Central and Eastern Europe, Country Office Slovakia (Slovakia), the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA), the Region of Styria (Austria) and CORPI (Lithuania) joined the project as partners.

There are now 14 partners drawn from eight member states representing a broad spectrum of authorities, climate change challenges and with varying degrees of strategic policy and experience. The project facilitates the much needed exchange of knowledge and experience and the actual transfer of good practice on climate change adaptation strategies to local and regional authorities. In addition a climate change risks and vulnerability assessment tool will be produced through this interregional collaboration. Through stakeholder and community engagement, as well as the development of regional policy networks, partners will produce High Level Policy Statements and Climate Change Adaptation Action Plans to ensure climate resilient future development in their regions. In this process, partners will take part in thematic seminars, study visits, and a mentoring programme as well as apply the climate assessment tool in their own locality.

Main results, benefits and impacts


The GRaBS Project has four main objectives:

  1. To raise awareness and increase the expertise of key bodies responsible for spatial planning and development as to how green and blue infrastructure can help new and existing mixed-use urban development adapt to projected climate scenarios.
  2. To assess the delivery mechanisms that exist for new urban mixed use development and urban regeneration in each partner country and to develop good practice adaptation action plans to co-ordinate the delivery of urban greening and adaptation strategies, as well as cooperation amongst:
    1. Planners
    2. Policy-makers
    3. Stakeholders, and
    4. Local communities
  3. To develop an innovative, cost-effective and user-friendly risk and vulnerability assessment tool, to aid the strategic planning of climate change adaptation responses
  4. To improve stakeholder and community understanding and involvement in planning, delivering and managing green infrastructure in new and existing urban mixed use development, based on positive community involvement techniques


Project achievements

The GRaBS project aims to integrate climate change adaptation into regional planning and development. The key actions to set up the project were achieved by the end of 2008, including the signing of the Partnership Agreement and the establishment of Task Teams to coordinate the implementation of central project components (Communication and Dissemination, Adaptation Action Plans, the Climate Change Risk Assessment Tool, and Community Involvement). A Mentoring Programme was established to facilitate the exchange of experience and expertise. The second phase of the Programme is now underway, and visits in 2010 have taken place in London (hosted by the TCPA), Amsterdam (hosted by the Nieuw-West City District), and in Kalamaria in Greece (hosted by the Municipality).

In addition to understanding how each host partner was progressing with building adaptive capacity, a key aim of each visit was for partners to discuss and assist each other in the development of their 'Adaptation Action Plans' (AAPs), having implemented their SWOT Analyses (identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats in delivering adaptation actions). To date, four Project Steering Committee (PSC) meetings and associated study visits have been held. In Malmo (April 2009), partners learnt of the adaptation challenges and gained first-hand experience of local innovative solutions and technologies including a visit to the Green Roof Institute. In Amsterdam (November 2009), a 'Climate Participation Conference' was organised by the Nieuw-West City District for GRaBS partners and local politicians, officers and community groups. In the Graz PSC meeting (April 2010), hosted by the Province of Styria, partners presented progress with their AAP development, participated in Task Team meetings, and interactively tested and evaluated the University of Manchester's (UoM) prototype Risk .


Lessons learnt

This field will be completed by the submitter when the lessons learnt have been identified and understood.

Scope: International, Regional (sub-national)