Strategic planning of an urban green infrastructure network for climate change adaptation using a participatory lab approach

14:00 Wednesday 29 May


Room S11


Uwe Kurmutz (Germany) 1; Oliver Gebhardt (Germany) 2; Annemarie Müller (Germany) 3; Anya Schwamberger (Germany) 4

1 - Thuringian Institute of Sustainability and Climate Protection; 2 - Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Department of Economics; 3 - Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ; 4 - Department of Urban Development & City Planning Jena

Jena is a pioneer city for climate change adaptation in Germany. Due to its specific location it is exposed to various climate-related threats, especially heat stress and floods. These challenges triggered the development of the local climate change adaptation strategy JenKAS, which encouraged a variety of award-winning activities addressing specific adaptation knowledge gaps. When reflecting on these activities the city’s urban planners came to the conclusion that despite their value for supporting particular adaptation-related decisions developing a strategic vision for enhancing the city’s green urban infrastructure network for city-scale mitigation of climatic risks a more comprehensive approach is required.

Therefore, a demand-driven, participatory approach rooted in the idea of environmental justice is applied to complement and strengthen the city’s green infrastructure. The goal is not only to reduce heat stress, air pollution and noise disturbances in highly exposed areas through regulating ecosystem services provided by green spaces but also to enable socially disadvantaged citizens to get involved in the co-production of these spaces and take advantage of their manifold benefits.

The paper presents the methodological approach for improving the city’s green infrastructure network explicitly considering distributive and procedural environmental justice, which involves the following steps:

  1. GIS-aided spatially explicit analysis of current and future heat stress levels, air quality and noise levels, social indicators and green space quality.
  2. Overlay of information about environmental stress with social structure-related data to identify high exposure areas with an above average share of socially disadvantaged residents.
  3. Aggregation of information on these priority areas with density and quality of existing green urban spaces to identify areas with high demand for upgrading existing or creating new urban green spaces.
  4. Application of probabilistic multi-criteria analysis to comparatively assess and rank the potential new and existing plots based on criteria such as various site-specific risks, social aspects, networking effects and feasibility. Selection of the two most suitable plots, each for upgrading existing and creating new green spaces.
  5. Co-production and co-assessment (including expected changes in ecosystem services provided) of design drafts for green spaces with future users and other relevant stakeholders to ensure procedural justice of the development process.
  6. Co-implementation of design drafts.

The paper provides insights into the applicability of the ecosystem service concept for climate change adaptation in urban planning, discusses challenges encountered and reflects on its transferability to promote the strategic use of urban green infrastructure networks for climate change adaptation.