Ground-breaking IGNITION project gets under way in Greater Manchester

Partners across the city-region have signed a multi-million pound European contract for a project which looks to develop innovative ways of financing natural solutions to deliver resilience to increasingly extreme climate hazards.

IGNITION will run for up to the next three years backed by £4 million from the EU’s Urban Innovation Actions initiative, in a significant announcement made a week after the Mayor of Greater Manchester’s second annual Green Summit.

The project, the first of its kind, will see Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA), supported by 11 other key partners, including the Environment Agency, come together to develop the new innovative financing and delivery mechanisms that cities and urban areas need to respond to the risks posed by increasingly rapidly changing climate.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “We are serious about our green ambitions in Greater Manchester – to become carbon neutral by 2038 and one of the world’s leading green city-regions. However, we also need to prepare for the climate change impacts which are now unavoidable and we must do it soon; we can’t keep doing things the old way.

“This project will help us encourage widespread use of innovative, nature-based solutions such as green roofs and walls to cool our city-region down, manage water and reduce flooding, while also reducing our carbon output, and improving our air quality. The funding will also help us to find ways to accelerate and finance their deployment.”

Partners will identify sites within Greater Manchester where natural capital climate adaptation projects can manage urban flood and overheating risks. 

These smaller individual schemes will then be brought together into larger investible packages of projects at around the £10 million scale, ensuring they are attractive to private investors. Through the development of financing mechanisms and building investor confidence, the IGNITION project will ensure city-regions like Greater Manchester can deliver adaptations to urban green spaces needed to combat climate change and extreme weather risks over the coming decades.

Following her Keynote Speech at the Green Summit in Salford Quays on Monday 25 March, Environment Agency Chair, Emma Howard Boyd added: “The Environment Agency is particularly excited about our support for the development of IGNITION in Greater Manchester.

“The project – which is part of the GMCA’s work with cities across Europe through the EU's 'nature-based solutions' programme – sets a target of a 10% increase in green infrastructure in Greater Manchester by 2038. Over the next three years it will create and finance natural climate adaptation projects that are attractive to private investors, and create the mechanisms and confidence for investments in blue and green infrastructure. 

“This helps both Environment Agency to accelerate the 25 Year Environment Plan through the Urban Pioneer and GMCA to deliver their Natural Capital Investment Plan. But, more importantly - by generating a return while greening Manchester - the project could provide a model for investors around the world that would help ‘green finance’ for urban infrastructure to go mainstream.”

The full list of partners involved and funded by the IGNITION project is as follows:

  • Greater Manchester Combined Authority
  • Manchester City Council
  • Salford City Council
  • Environment Agency
  • United Utilities
  • Business in the Community
  • Groundwork
  • City of Trees
  • University of Salford
  • University of Manchester
  • UK Green Building Council
  • Royal Horticultural Society

Extreme weather is becoming an increasing part of urban life, whether it is rivers bursting their banks, rain creating standing water after only a relatively modest downpour or heat waves. 

The effects on the Greater Manchester area is no different. In December 2015, Greater Manchester experienced significant flooding, damaging homes, businesses and infrastructure. Heat stress incidents are also on the rise as a result of increasing temperatures and storms are becoming more common, as is flooding from intense rainfall.

In addressing these challenges and impacts of a more extreme climate, Greater Manchester feels that the solutions lie in substantial retrofit programmes of urban green infrastructure or nature based solutions to combat urban over-heating (provision of shade and evaporative cooling) as well as slowing the flow of excess water caused by extreme weather events. 

These nature based solutions will also help to improve air quality, the visibility of the region, increase the level of biodiversity within an urban environment and help to improve the health and well-being of citizens. The IGNITION project and the solutions it develops have a far wider relevance than Greater Manchester and potential start to draw the greenprint for cities everywhere to fund and deliver the natural environment resilience solutions we all need.

For further information visit: https://www.uia-initiative.eu/en/uia-cities/greater-manchester

Article Published: 01/04/2019 11:25 AM