Blue-green infrastructure is a novel idea in India, and as such, it is yet to be defined based on its incorporation into national, state, and local policy. For example, the Delhi Development Authority, which is developing a blue-green masterplan for the city, defines blue and green infrastructure separately and confines both to urban planning: “Blue’ infrastructure refers to water bodies like rivers, canals, ponds, wetlands, floodplains, and water treatment facilities; while ‘Green’ stands for trees, lawns, hedgerows, parks, fields, and forests. The concept refers to urban planning where water bodies and land are inter-dependent and grow with the help of each other while offering environmental and social benefits”
Priority for India, which aspires to expand its GDP to US$5 trillion (INR 364 trillion) by 2024, is climate-proofing the economy and establishing resilient development sectors. This requires a policy and investment response that addresses the three interconnected aspects of sustainable development: the economic, social, and environmental.
Climate concerns and challenges to human comfort and environmental justice are growing in urban settings. Of the four major global risks projected to have a negative decadal consequence on countries through temperature increases, three are primarily environmental—natural disaster, extreme weather and biodiversity loss, with climate action failure as the fourth. Green (trees, parks, gardens, playgrounds, and forests) and blue (seas, rivers, lakes, wetlands, and water utilities) areas, frequently referred to as green and blue infrastructure, are receiving a rising amount of consideration in the context of addressing these concerns.
Cities have a significant role in climate change. Cities utilise 78 percent of the world's energy and generate more than 60 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions while covering less than 2 percent of the planet's surface only.
Blue-Green infrastructure (BGI) is a viable and effective option for metropolitan areas confronted with climate change concerns. It complements and in some cases replaces the need for grey infrastructure. In urban landscape design, BGI combines urban hydrological functions (blue infrastructure) with vegetation systems (green infrastructure). It delivers more socioeconomic advantages than the sum of its constituent parts.
Leaning by Examples
Vancouver's Rain City Strategy, Canada
The Rain City Strategy, approved in 2019 by the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, sought to conserve and improve urban water quality, boost urban resilience via sustainable water management, and promote liveability by enhancing natural and urban ecosystems.
Grey to Green Initiative, Oregon, United States
The five-year 'Grey to Green' initiative facilitated the implementation of the Portland Watershed Management Plan (2005), with the overarching objectives of protecting natural resources, restoring critical ecosystems, and implementing stormwater solutions that integrate urban areas with the natural environment. The project identified elements such as planting street and yard trees, green streets, eco-roofs,and key methods like invasive species removal and revegetation, culvert removal, planting, and acquisition of sensitive land parcels to achieve these goals. Potential benefits were divided into three categories—health, energy and carbon sequestration, and community liveability.
In response to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the UN's 'Green Economy Initiative', India developed the National Action Plan on Climate Change (NAPCC) in 2008. In addition to outlining the macroeconomic, sustainability, and poverty reduction consequences of green investment in sectors like as renewable energy and sustainable agriculture, this project gave suggestions on how to stimulate additional investment in these areas.
The NAPCC consists of 12 missions: the National Mission for Green India, the National Solar Mission, the National Water Mission, the National Mission for Sustainable Agriculture, the National Mission on Sustainable Habitat, the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency, the National Mission for Himalayan Ecosystem, the National Mission on Strategic Knowledge on Climate Change, the National Wind Mission, the Mission on Health (to address the effects of climate change on human health), the National Coastal Mission, and the National Mission for Enhanced Energy Efficiency. The missions pertaining to sustainable habitat, water, agriculture, and forestry are multisectoral, overlapping, and cross-departmental.
Infrastructure design of cities must become more sensitive to ecological factors by creating and adapting to nature-based solutions to satisfy climate and sustainability objectives, a function that could be met by blue-green infrastructure. Smart Cities Mission and Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) are two excellent initiatives in this regard.
Implementation of a Blue-green Urban Framework requires clear and comprehensive definition of the concept and a national vision that provides guiding principles for such programmes, a framework should be developed.
Bottom-Up Approach, Many Indian cities release annual environmental status reports, with details on natural features and pollution indicators. Such activities can be integrated with an annual blue-green audit for all cities and be accompanied by demographic data to better understand the social challenges and to develop realistic policy solutions.
Multilevel cooperation and collaboration can be of advantage. By increasing community participation and active contact with government, planners, policymakers, and other political representatives, blue-green initiatives will be better comprehended and people will be more willing to contribute meaningfully.
In India, projects in Bengaluru and Madurai have also included a substantial amount of community participation.
Blue-green infrastructure has the ability to achieve numerous SDGs, including those linked to water (SDGs 6 and 14), land (SDG 15), and climate change (SDG 13),(SDG 13). It may also speed the development of green employment opportunities (SDG 1).