12 December 2019
By The KLH Team

Reimaging the Future City: Nature-based solutions for climate resilient cities

A number of the KLH team attended the ‘Risk & Resilience’ conference, organised by The Developer Live, last month. With news of major flooding across Yorkshire hitting the headlines that morning, there was a small concern among the team that the day could struggle to rise above the very real sense of doom. However, instead of dwelling on the difficulties of moving through the swamp of legislation and indecisiveness the focus was on creative, nature-based solutions and practical implementation. 


One of these are the ‘watersquares’ in Rotterdam designed by De Urbanisten. One of the founders, Dirk van Peijpe, explained how these urban interventions play a crucial role in the water management of the city and simultaneously help to improve the public realm and contribute to the local social cohesion of an area. 


The context for the solution-focussed event was set by Alastair Mant, UKGBC’s Head of Business Transformation. In his opening presentation, he reminded us that we are currently heading towards a 4 degree temperature increase and are still far from meeting the commitments set out in the Paris Agreement. In other words, if we continue on the current trajectory we will dramatically overshoot the 1.5 degree warming that many scientists now agree is the maximum ‘safe’ limit. Few will disagree that 2020 will be a truly decisive year for climate change.


Alastair then continued by highlighting our joint responsibility in tackling this challenge. We know the issues, who is responsible and the solutions we need to implement, so rather than waiting for a “silver bullet” to solve all our problems we need to focus on changing existing ways of doing business.


Many of the solutions and improvements presented and discussed involved bringing water and nature back into the urban realm. Nick White of Natural England spoke about Biodiversity Net Gain, which he defined as “leaving the natural environment in a measurable better state than it was found”. “We need to leave a positive legacy” was his main message to the listeners. Gemma Jerome from Building with Nature added to this the importance of frequent contact with nature – “Make it accessible, inclusive and enjoyable”. 


The problems we are facing are complicated and multi layered and require fundamental collaboration and understanding of all parties involved. However, one of the main issues that became apparent throughout the day was that the construction industry remains very much a siloed one, and opportunities to join forces to reach holistic and optimised solutions are missed. At KLH we are working hard to break down those silos, provide people with the knowledge and skills they need to value sustainable solutions and drive business value in the process. If you want to find out more about how KLH can help your business make sustainability simple, get in touch!

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