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To what extent does green infrastructure improvement act as a catalyst for economic growth? An assessment of the international and UK evidence (previously project number WC0810) - WC0820

Providing and improving green infrastructure, understood in this project to be living systems within the boundaries of an urban settlement, is a priority for the Defra-family organisations as part of their ambition to reconnect people and nature by restoring nature in towns, cities and villages, to gain the wellbeing enhancement often associated with such connection. It is also often claimed that the presence of green infrastructure is linked to economic growth within a local area.

This is of interest to the Defra-family as well as other government departments as part of their focus on growing a green economy and thereby integrating the economy and the environment. This study aims to help the Defra-family investigate this claim by providing a rapid assessment of the evidence that green infrastructure, while not necessarily a driver of economic growth, acts as a catalyst for economic growth. Without anticipating the results of the review, it can be conjectured that green infrastructure can be a catalyst to economic growth in a number of ways, including:

>Attracting both businesses and customers to an area due to improved views and air and water quality;
>Attracting creative and innovative individuals who find high environmental quality and a sustainable urban environment appealing;
>Reducing flooding risk for both businesses and residents;
>Reducing fluctuating energy cost risk for businesses and investors;
>Reduced health treatment costs and improved work productivity due to associated physical and mental health benefits; Improved education outcomes and interest in STEM subjects for students able to access learning in outdoor environments, leading to a higher skilled labour force;
>Making cities less costly to run through building up ecosystem assets, lowering costs due to reduced risks and improved air and water quality, and reducing urban heat island effects, and thereby allowing investment in other areas to stimulate economies and attracting further investment.

Current evidence is focused on microeconomic evidence, in particular hedonic pricing (e.g. evaluating real estate values in different proximities to green infrastructure) and replacement cost (valuing ecosystem service benefits from green infrastructure through the costs of providing those services in other ways). The rapid evidence assessment will be carried out through a review of currently available national and international studies examining the link between green infrastructure and economic growth. The review will pay particular attention to the Logic Model (Theory of Change) the studies use to show how green infrastructure acts as a catalyst to economic growth.

This will provide a theoretical background to more in-depth investigations of several case studies where the robustness of the evidence base for the Logic Model claims will be examined, as well as the local context of the study site and the transferability of lessons for UK policy on green infrastructure to act as a catalyst for economic growth. The results from this review will feed into green infrastructure policy for economic growth in the UK and to advise on further work in this area
Overall aim of project is to provide policy recommendations for green infrastructure (GI)/economic development practices that arise from a review of existing evidence on GI acting as a catalyst for economic growth. To be achieved by examining the Theory of Change in existing literature focused on GI leading to economic growth, and the evidence supporting the Theory of Change.

To deliver this aim, the project will focus on four main objectives:
1. Undertake a rapid evidence assessment of the national and international evidence base for GI acting as a catalyst for economic growth, focusing on the theory of change/logic mapping and contextual factors.

2. Review prominent national and international case studies where it is claimed that GI acted as a catalyst for economic growth, focusing on the evidence underpinning the claims including the robustness of the evidence base, the reliability of the theory of change on local context, transferability to a UK context, and the strength of the evidence related to all key steps in the logic map.

3. Produce a final report which presents the findings of Objective 2, further considers the extent of transferability to a UK context, draws out policy applications for GI/economic development practice (e.g. what factors must be in place and under what contexts for a successful progression from the provision of GI to economic growth) and scopes potential areas for future research.

4. Disseminate findings of the project and the lessons for policy application and potential for future research including presenting a seminar.
The success of Objectives 3 and 4 rely on successful results from Objective 2. The case studies in Objective 2 will be selected based on the results of Objective 1.

To achieve the 4 objectives above we have splite the work into 6 tasks, which are outlined in the methodology.
Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : Green Infrastructure's contribution to economic growth: a review   (3586k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2012

To: 2013

Cost: £32,475
Contractor / Funded Organisations
Economics For The Environment Consultancy Ltd (EFTEC)
Economic Research              
Ecosystem Service              
Green Spaces