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Milestone workshop on nature-based solutions for water quality

January 17th, 2024

An interesting start to the day, as I opened the first Urban Nature-Based Solutions Strategy Workshop today. This marked an important milestone in the coming together of five professional bodies to work together to advance the implementation of nature-based solutions to manage surface water runoff and deliver sustainable improvements to water quality in in urban areas.

It's an approach that seeks to mimic the natural water balance of rural areas by embedding “water sensitive design” in urban planning and design, and employing nature-based solutions helps protect, restore, and enhance water quality; improves climatic resilience, in the face of increased risk of flooding and extreme temperatures; increases biodiversity; and creates more sustainable and climate adaptive urban neighbourhoods.

The multidisciplinary workshop included collaboration between a broad range of designers and practitioners in the public and private sectors. I'm grateful to all of the participants from Engineers Ireland, the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland, the Irish Planning Institute, the Irish Landscape Institute, and the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management - CIEEM who brought a vast depth of knowledge which will inform and progress the adoption and implementation of nature-based solutions across Ireland.

In November 2021, my department published a best practice interim guidance document on nature-based solutions for water management in urban areas. This document charts a course towards a more systematic and sustainable approach to urban planning and design through the replacement of impermeable surfacing with nature-based planted areas that are designed to absorb, retain, store, and treat urban runoff prior to discharge back into the environment.


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