A network of leading organisations involved in integrating climate change adaptation into regional planning and development has been established across Europe in the new Green and Blue Space Adaptation for Urban Areas and Eco Towns (GRaBS) project.
The GRaBS project has 14 partners, drawn from eight member states, representing a broad spectrum of authorities and climate change challenges, all with varying degrees of strategic policy and experience. The project will facilitate 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.
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.
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 that make our communities less vulnerable to these risks. Green infrastructure including gardens, parks, productive landscapes, green corridors, 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 mainstream planning.
By advancing the knowledge and expertise of partner staff through the GRaBS project, decisions makers, politicians and communities, and regional and local municipalities across Europe, 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, physical and economic damage related to climate change impacts including extreme temperature increases and flooding incidents.
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.