. In addition to technical/environmental benefits, blue-green infrastructure (BGI) has the potential to provide significant socio-economic benefits/ecosystem services (ES). These include for example:
- Reduced stormwater runoff and thus reduced flood risk, climate adaptation and reduced impact on the receiving water body
- Water quality treatment
- Providing urban biodiversity
- Providing access to high quality green spaces even in densely populated cities
- Improving public health (less noise, recreation, etc.)
- Reduce the urban heat island effect and improve the microclimate
- Reduce the use of non-renewable resources (e.g. concrete and plastic for pipes)
- Make water and sustainable technologies visible to the public.
In this way, BGI can contribute to sustainable cities and sustainable infrastructure even in urban areas, thus enabling the achievement of several of the Sustainable Development Goals, including "Good health and well-being", "Clean water", "Decent economic growth", "Sustainable industry, innovation and infrastructure", "Sustainable cities and communities", "Sustainable consumption and production", "Combating climate change" and "Oceans and marine resources". In order to achieve these objectives, socio-economic issues need to be examined in addition to technical and environmental issues, whereas questions remain as to how these multiple benefits of BGI can be achieved and valued.
To identify when, how and why the delivery of ES with blue-green infrastructure can contribute to achieving sustainable cities, this ambitious interdisciplinary research project has been developed. We will investigate the perception and values of blue-green infrastructure by local government and residents in 'blue-green' urban areas compared to 'grey' areas. This could lead to an improved design of BGI from a more holistic perspective compared to the current focus on the textual/environmental function of blue-green infrastructure only.
Blue-green infrastructure does not take into account the fact that large parts of Sweden are white instead of blue-green during winter; therefore there is a need to broaden the concepts by including the white season (blue-green-white infrastructure) and to evaluate the opportunities and constraints this brings.
In addition to these more experience-oriented aspects, we will conduct life cycle and multi-criteria analyses to support sustainability in decision-making processes. These processes will be compared with set BGI targets to answer the question why some blue-green infrastructure projects are highly successful and achieve their goals while (far too many) others do not. These evaluations will be complemented by an assessment of the economic value that blue-green infrastructure can deliver. This is also important because the multifunctional nature of blue-green infrastructure requires a broad support for blue-green infrastructure investments. In order to do this, it is important to evaluate which actors benefit (economically) from blue-green infrastructure.
In line with sustainability goal 17 (global partnership and cooperation), the programme has been jointly developed by various research departments at LTU and Ohio State University with several Swedish municipalities. Together, complementary skills and resources can be provided that are needed to achieve the identified goals.