Addressing urban pressures through the maintenance and restoration of green and blue infrastructure (GBI) is key to building a healthy and resilient society. Accordingly, ENABLE (Enabling Green And Blue Infrastructure Potential In Complex Social-Ecological Regions: A System Approach For Assessing Local Solutions ) employs a range of methods to identify, assess and facilitate a cost-effective implementation of GBI for an optimized distribution of benefits and wider uptake. Although infrastructure implies interaction and connection among many components of GBI, we argue that connections to the wider social-ecological system must also be included to enable the success of GBI. As such, the project framework will enable the identification of (1) the environmental, social and economic benefits provided by GBI, (2) the societal demands, preferences and values attached to GBI and biodiversity, and (3) pathways for cities to align these considerations via the targeted provisioning of GBI. Key aspects such as mental and physical health, social justice and cohesion, eco-gentrification, the socio-economic stratification of urban inhabitants and access rights are integrated into the ENABLE assessment framework in order to ensure a holistic understanding of GBI interventions. Significant stakeholder involvement underlies this approach, with the participation of local practitioners and policy-makers playing a central role via the selected city case studies.
ENABLEs inclusion of urban revitalization programs, brownfield regeneration, disaster risk management, and damage reduction (e.g. flooding events and urban heat islands) provide further evidence for the multifunctionality of GBI solutions. This approach will add to the growing evidence body for healthy ecosystems enhancing not only economic vitality and serving as effective climate change mitigation and adaptation tools, but also for improving human health and societal well-being. The framing of GBI as a multifunctional tool and the development of a robust evidence base supporting these claims, which will be produced in ENABLE, will serve to increase the support of GBI by decision-makers and attract wider public and private cross-sectoral investment support. As we see the function of GBI as strongly influenced by social-ecological contextual factors we will invest heavily in studies of governance, including decision-making and its scales, humans motivations and perceptions, and the access to benefits they could potentially derive from urban ecosystem services. We will then take this system understanding one step further and examine temporal dynamics and how principles of resilience building could influence and support GBI functionality over time in the face of current and coming challenges to urbanizing systems. Lastly, knowledge exchange tools will also be utilized in order to ground the policy discussion. Download the ENABLE factsheet.