Weather extremities in the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA population, 2.8 million) region are cause of rising concern, with increasing risks of flooding and heatwave calamities for both the people and businesses of GMCA. To remediate this, the IGNITION project serves as an important catalyst for the region’s pursuit of a green and low carbon future. To achieve this, the project leverages funding and delivery mechanisms for a widespread retrofitting of urban green infrastructure.
This is critical for the region, for which it is estimated that a 10% uplift in urban green infrastructure is required by 2038 to adapt to the forecasted impact of climate change and to negate its adverse effects on housing, transport, the city region’s economy, and its citizens. Urban green infrastructure is believed to supersede the more conventional engineering methods, and, combined with nature-based solutions (NBS) such as rain gardens, street trees, green roofs and other green spaces), will help improve the region’s sustainability due to their ability to cope with climate change in a natural way.
To help secure the required green investments, the project has developed innovative business models and financing mechanisms. An important accelerator in this regard was found to be local community awareness and engagement, which can further incentivize investors through an increased demand for a green city. To strengthen this, a permanent innovation centre has been built where nature-based solutions are tested, monitored and demonstrated to the public and potential investors.
The project consortium comprises municipal authorities, NGO’s, universities as well as business representatives. This multi-disciplinary nature allows for unique but complementary contributions on municipal planning, climate change, scientific research and business interests respectively.
With the project nearing its completion, it has realized valuable and tangible results, among which the Living Lab innovation centre at the University of Salford, rigorously tested business models and funding streams, as well as various stakeholder support tools.