What is Green Infrastructure?

Green Infrastructure it’s becoming quite a popular catchphrase and I have often been asked what does it actually mean?

The term green infrastructure started being used sometime in the 1990s. It is not clear when or where it has started to be used. But has become more popular over the last 20 years to try and describe a way to achieve better environmental outcomes. The interesting thing is that there is no definitive definition of green infrastructure. Different sectors have used the term to refer to different outlooks. Sometimes it is used to refer to the tree canopy of an area. Other times it is used to refer to water-sensitive urban design engineering. However, the European Commission has a definition that I think encompasses what it should be.  

“Green infrastructure is a strategically planned network of natural and semi-natural areas with other environmental features designed and managed to deliver a wide range of ecosystem services such as water purification, air quality, space for recreation, and climate mitigation and adaptation. This network of green (land) and blue (water) spaces can improve environmental conditions and therefore citizens’ health and quality of life. It also supports a green economy, creates job opportunities, and enhances biodiversity.”

So, what does this mean for us? Well in my option we should be thinking about the green infrastructure the green and the blue first before we plan any other type of infrastructure requirement. Why? When talking about infrastructure there are often three parts.


“physical assets, networks, structures or systems”


“institutions and organizational structures or systems”


“fire fighters, police officers and teachers etc who are essential to the creation and operation of our hard and soft infrastructure”

Green infrastructure encompasses these three parts it aims to make sure they are achieved and to improve the environment in which other forms of infrastructure sit. So why don’t we put this system first? Why aren’t we planning for the green and the blue before we plan our houses, roads, hospitals, and schools?

What would our world look like if we thought of green infrastructure first? If we considered improving our environment first before everything else? It’s a little hard for me to imagine how different our world could be. But it has to be better than what we have now, and I just hope that that world and this world might be able to meet one day before we lose more than we already have.

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