Green Spatial Planning

Around the World

  • Reykjavik, Iceland

With hydrogen buses on the streets and heat and electricity from geothermal and hydropower sources, Reykjavik is well on its way to achieving its goal of being fossil fuel free by 2050. 

  • Lisbon, Portugal - European Green Capital 2020

The global economic downturn of 2008 had a significant impact on Portugal but despite such challenges, Lisbon has made advances in cementing the city’s environmental sustainability strategy and in turn enhancing the quality of life of its citizens, demonstrating that environmental sustainability and economic growth can function together.

In terms of urban mobility, Lisbon has a cohesive city-wide vision for sustainable mobility, including restricting car use and prioritisation of walking, cycling and public transport. In 2017 Lisbon implemented a bike-sharing scheme, with electric bikes comprising two thirds of the fleet to promote cycling in the hillier parts of the city. The city also promotes alternatively-fuelled vehicles and has one of the world’s largest electric vehicle charging point networks with 516 such points citywide.

With respect to sustainable land use, Lisbon is committed to protecting and enhancing its natural areas, while also providing quality outdoor recreational space for its citizens. This is demonstrated in its management of the Monsanto Park, for which the city has been awarded the Sustainable Forest Management Certification.

Lisbon is also connecting its green spaces through the use of green corridors. Such corridors link up the city’s natural amenities with cycle paths and walkways, providing citizens with greater access to green spaces and promotion of biodiversity.

Lisbon is working towards a fully integrated city, employing an integrated approach to urban planning that considers all aspects of the city, including water, mobility, waste, as well as education and employment. City planning and management involves a wide range of stakeholders, such as citizens, businesses, universities and international partners, in its policies and programmes for urban innovation (European Commission, 2020).

See past, present and future European green capitals here

  • Singapore

Singapore 'The Garden City' has made green building mandatory since 2008. The city planners aim to accommodate population growth without becoming highly crowded and polluted. The urban greening in Singapore is exemplified by the 250-acre Gardens by the Bay which contain huge man-made tree-like structures which harvest solar energy during the day to power a nightly light show. The structures also act as vertical gardens, see them here.

  • Stuggart and Copenhagen

GI is a recognised solution for managing flood risks in many cities globally, particularly in urban areas with extensive areas of impervious surfaces, with cities including Stuggart and Copenhagen now mandating their use for new construction developments. Of particular concern with flooding is how a legacy of past, hard engineering interventions that attempt to channel rainfall runoff into and through piped systems often fails in the face of exceptional rainfall.

In this context, best international practice for flood risk management increasingly aims to incorporate nature-based solutions within an urban design context aimed at water storage and retention at the urban scale. This contrasts with the dominant approach for managing flood risks nationally, which often focuses on structural, heavily engineered infrastructure as the primary means of responding to flood risks. Within the context of responding to climate change, the role of urban design is to reconcile competing demands within the design process. For example, a GI approach may suggest promoting higher density development within key areas of an urban environment or public transport corridors (reducing the need for car travel) interspersed with multifunctional green corridors, or promoting green roofs and green walls to promote water retention within densely developed area (EPA, 2016).

  • Ireland

In Ireland, efforts are also being made to achieve sustainable living. The Green Building in Temple Bar, Dublin, shows how environmentally friendly buildings can help us achieve our climate change goals. The Dublin Docklands area is an example of sustainable inner city regeneration. The area integrates the economic and social with the built environment, providing working areas, housing, play areas, restaurants and other amenities. It is a vibrant, urban hub.

A bigger attempt at complete sustainable living is being made in North Tipperary at Cloughjordan, where an eco-village has been built. It includes a solar and wood powered community heating system, farming, allotments, an organic market, and a centre for education on sustainable living. It includes a 500 M2 solar park; an eco-hostel; the construction of an EcoEnterprise Centre and the planting of 17,000 trees in the community woodland.

A second eco-development in Clonburris, South Dublin, was approved by An Bord Pleanála in 2008. It is expected to provide homes for 21,000 people. Considerable measures will be taken to ensure the area is environmentally sustainable, especially in the areas of transport, energy efficiency, carbon reduction and biodiversity. See the current state of the development on their website

Wicklow County Council also provides an excellent example of a local authority that has embraced Green Infrastructure. The identification and improvement of GI in County Wicklow has been proactively integrated into the County Development Plan 2016-2021 with the inclusion of relevant land use objectives that integrate improvements and creation of new green infrastructure networks and elements into the physical development of the county. More details of the local authority's GI plans for the period 2016-2022 can be found here.

In order to cater for a growing population in a sustainable way, high-quality, self-sufficient urban living spaces are essential. For further information, see Ireland's Sustainable Development Policy.

previousPrevious - Green Workplaces
Next - Transition Initiativenext