Laura Young

PhD student

Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science, Energy Environment and Society

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Enhancing Scotland’s resilience to climate change – a blue-green infrastructure inclusivity framework based on community-centred nature-based solutions. 

Project Dates: 3 October 2022 – 2 October 2026 

Supervisors: Professor Sue Dawson and Dr Rebecca Wade 

There is a recognised need for a fundamental change in how cities manage urban water and flood risk in response to increasingly frequent climate events coupled with urban expansion. Approaches centred on ‘living with and making space for water’ and using Nature-based Solutions (NbS) are increasingly adopted internationally. The importance of Blue-Green Infrastructure (BGI) as an NbS approach has become central to climate change mitigation and adaptation and the drive to make our cities more resilient. However, the unpredictable nature of floods, diverse priorities of governments and differing institutional structures hinder the development of a standard framework for flood risk management thus different combinations of approaches are often used to suit the local context. At its best, BGI can deliver a host of benefits in addition to flood mitigation and water quality improvement, these include enhancing health and wellbeing and increasing biodiversity. However, widespread implementation of multi-functional BGI is currently hampered by barriers that impede uptake and innovation. The increasing incorporation of BGI within Scotland’s response to climate change, highlights a need to consider the inclusivity of BGI as part of how we bring about a just transition, delivering healthy places for healthy people.

The key aim for this Hydro Nation Scholar appointment is to deliver an inclusivity framework to aid BGI selection and planning. This framework will be developed and tested in pre-selected sites (in Dundee) but will have a wider framing that can be adapted and used throughout Scotland. I will be developing a set of template principles for the use with community engagement frameworks to facilitate and encourage greater community co-production of BGI, to improve public preferences, accountability and sustainability.

This is an interdisciplinary collaborative project aims to deliver an inclusivity framework to aid BGI selection and planning through exploring the balance between grey and blue-green infrastructure, the optimisation of sustainable solutions over conventional, delivering natural flood risk management and multiple co-benefits. The project will build on existing academic expertise within Scotland but draws on extensive applied research conducted both in the UK and globally by the supervisory team.