Why is it that the private sector is not driving forward projects to open up urban rivers in cities? There are clearly so many benefits, and judging by the praise given to the Matilda St project in Sheffield, these seem to outweigh the costs.
This recent talk given at an EU Presidency in Estonia tackles these and other questions about ‘nature-based solutions’. It sums up a paper written with old colleagues/friends, based on 10 years of project work coordinated from Sheffield. Sadly the paper isn’t open access, but copies can be requested here.
In short, the valuable benefits of new green corridors and riverside parkways can’t/shouldn’t be enclosed. Private developers have to cover their costs and make a profit (how much?). If the benefits can’t be captured, they can’t be used to offset the costs. But cities and citizens can – and do – benefit greatly from the investment. So, our take on it is that this is a market failure, i.e. missed opportunity. Cities, NGOs and citizens can work together to drive forward these great projects, but only with public support. And that’s Political.
Images are courtesy of the ursula project and with thanks to Ed Morgan, Lewis Gill and Laurence Pattacini. No prizes for guessing the location, what do you think this is, Christmas?