This week we are visiting Europe and today we were in Antwerp the second largest city in Belgium to discuss one of our projects and see examples of nature-based solutions. It is late May 2022, the sun was shining and the temperature was just right for wandering about the city. The key climate challenges it faces are flooding, poor air quality and heat stress. To combat these, the city has been a low emission zone (LEZ) since 2017 and plans to become greener.
The development of the Green-Blue infrastructure Masterplan was a major step towards achieving this ambition and involved large-scale restoration projects focusing on five park regions. Also part of the Masterplan were nine local green plans (at district level and one for the harbour). A key outcome from the process of realising the Masterplan was the development of the Antwerp Greentool (a new land use map at 1m resolution) which mapped and assessed ecosystem services in different layers and which also took into account private green spaces.
Another project of interest to us is a pilot called Tuinstraten. It was announced in February 2022 and focuses on areas with little or no access to green spaces and residents that are most affected by climate change i.e. the elderly, children and those living in social housing. The project aims to create, in collaboration with local residents, eight ‘garden streets’ in five districts of Antwerp. The garden streets will include urban greening measures such as: wall gardens, vegetable gardens, trees, planted areas and lawns.
It was an interesting day in Antwerp and we will be back. On Tuesday we will be at the Utrecht University for an NBS Day…..more about this later!