In many developed and developing countries, governments, corporations and local communities are under significant pressure to rehabilitate and expand water management infrastructures to serve growing demands for water, energy, and food. This work is challenged by the negative impacts of floods and droughts, which are likely to be further exacerbated by the effects of climate change. Population growth in at-risk areas increases vulnerability to natural disasters, and climate change is forecasted to intensify the frequency and the severity of such extreme events in many parts of the world. As such, these risks could rise for those lacking appropriate infrastructure and the means to implement adequate adaptation measures.
To date, the common response to water management challenges has been increased investment in conventional built or “grey” infrastructure, such as water-treatment plants, dams and levees, and the expansion of sewage networks. However, a growing number of spatial planners, engineers, and decision and policy makers are identifying and adopting cost effective, long term and environmentally-friendly infrastructure solutions, thus spearheading an increased interest in, and successful use of, green infrastructure (GI).
The aim of this guide, Green Infrastructure Guide for Water Management: Ecosystem-based management approaches for water-related infrastructure projects, is therefore to raise awareness of the benefits of GI solutions for water resources management, and to provide a basis for the informed assessment of green and grey infrastructure alternatives. In particular, it explores the potential applicability of GI solutions, either as stand-alone solutions or as those that are integrated within hybrid approaches (a mutually complimentary mix of green and grey infrastructure). Accordingly, it is intended to guide water managers, spatial planers, decision and policy makers, and other stakeholders that are tasked with planning and implementing infrastructure projects for water management.