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  4. What Is Green Infrastructure?

2017 Vol.1
What Is Green Infrastructure?


Green infrastructure is a concept based on infrastructure development and land use management that take advantage of functions and mechanisms of ecosystem. Although it might seem that our hopes regarding green infrastructure stem from the environmental protection movement, there is great anticipation surrounding green infrastructure in various other fields, as seen from today’s growing interest from a wide range of entities and many academic fields. Internationally, increased discussion on green infrastructure can be attributed to issues involving not only conservation of the global environment and biodiversity, but also depletion of energy sources and other resources, stagnation of regional economies due to economic globalization, and growth of disaster risks worldwide. In Japan, there are growing expectations that development of green infrastructure can be a measure for dealing with various social issues, such as changes in demand for land resulting from the country’s declining birth rate and aging population, growth of disaster risks due to climate change, and stagnation of regional economies caused by structural changes. The term “green infrastructure” is becoming a common keyword around the world linking efforts aimed at promoting the economy, preventing and reducing disasters, and protecting the environment. In Europe, the European Commission announced the European Green Infrastructure Strategy in June 2013. In the United States, efforts are underway to develop technologies and institutional mechanisms that will promote the building of green infrastructure for rainwater management. In response to these activities, increased efforts are being made to promote green infrastructure at various international conferences. For instance, the participants in the Conferences of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction, and the G7 summit held in Japan in 2016 expect green infrastructure to be promoted in the context of economics and development. Since 2015, the concept of green infrastructure utilizing multiple functions of nature has been included in administrative plans of the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism and other relevant ministries and agencies. These plans discuss the necessity of green infrastructure development as a means to build environmentally friendly spaces, to promote economic activities by utilizing local resources, to develop, maintain, and manage infrastructure in a cost-effective manner, and to increase the competitiveness of urban and nonurban areas. Green infrastructure development supports activities that take advantage of existing functions of nature. It is also considered a way to secure greater social and economic benefits by effectively linking the “hard” and “soft” aspects of relevant factors and by strengthening the spatial connections among different individual activities associated with land use.