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Green Infrastructure

What is Green Infrastructure?

green infrastructure factsheet

Green Infrastructure is addressing the spatial structure of natural and semi-natural areas but also other environmental features which enable citizens to benefit from its multiple services. The underlying principle of Green Infrastructure is that the same area of land can frequently offer multiple benefits if its ecosystems are in a healthy state. Green Infrastructure investments are generally characterized by a high level of return over time, provide job opportunities, and can be a cost-effective alternative or be complementary to 'grey' infrastructure and intensive land use change. It serves the interests of both people and nature.

The Commission has produced a brochure Deutsch English español français explaining the main issues of Green Infrastructure. More detailed background on Green Infrastructure, including relevant studies with best practice examples, financing and relevant policies and information sources, can be found here.

For illustrations of the Green Infrastructure concept click here.

An EU-wide strategy on Green Infrastructure: Enhancing Europe's Natural Capital

The Commission has adopted a Green Infrastructure Strategy, 'to promote the deployment of green infrastructure in the EU in urban and rural areas'.

This is a key step in implementing the EU 2020 Biodiversity Strategy and specifically Target 2 that requires that 'by 2020, ecosystems and their services are maintained and enhanced by establishing green infrastructure and restoring at least 15% of degraded ecosystems'.

In the follow-up of the Commission's Green Infrastructure strategy, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on Green Infrastructure. The Committee of the Regions (CoR) adopted an opinion on Green Infrastructure, and likewise the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). The Lithuanian Presidency organized a discussion during the Environment council of 14/10/13 - which was, as the Parliament's resolution and the opinions of both Committees, very supportive of the Commission's initiative. Progress in implementing the Green Infrastructure Strategy is documented in the Mid-term reporting of the Biodiversity Strategy.

Green Infrastructure (GI) is contributing to all other targets of the EU Biodiversity strategy – in particular the full implementation of the Birds and Habitats Directive (target 1) – and to maintain and enhance biodiversity in the wider countryside and the marine environment (targets 3 and 4).

The Green Infrastructure Strategy responds to action 6b of the Biodiversity Strategy and to the Roadmap on a Resource Efficient Europe which foresees that the Commission will put forward a communication on Green Infrastructure. It is supported by the different actions under target 2:

  • Action 5, Mapping and Assessment of Ecosystems and their Services (MAES), shall help to reinforce the baseline against which the value of the benefits that nature provides to human society can be valued, and investments in GI can be measured;
  • Action 6a, the establishment of a Restoration Prioritization Framework (RPF), shall support the prioritization of restoration in the context of GI;
  • Action 7a, Biodiversity Proofing, seeks to mainstream consideration for biodiversity in key EU funds and promote the funding of projects with a positive impact on biodiversity, which includes GI projects;
  • Action 7b on No-Net-Loss (NNL) will support the implementation of GI through developing an initiative that ensures there is no net loss of ecosystems and their services e.g. through compensation or offsetting schemes.

Public consultation

The European Commission had convened two Working Groups. The first one was set up to contribute to the development of a European Green Infrastructure policy (2011) and provided concrete recommendations. The revised Working Group on Green Infrastructure Implementation and Restoration (2014-2015) will develop documents supporting Green Infrastructure in particular on national and regional levels.