London invests in green space for climate and equality

30 June 2021

The Mayor of London has announced plans to ensure that every Londoner will have access to green space within a 10-minute walk of their home.

More than £1 million (€1.16 million) will be set aside for community-led projects including community gardens, food growing projects, pocket parks and cleaner waterways in the British capital as part of the Grow Back Greener Fund.

Another £4 million (€4.6 million) under the Green and Resilient Spaces Fund will go towards greening projects to help mitigate the effects of climate change, including reducing flooding risk and lowering temperatures in the city.

Unequal access

The projects come amid concerns at City Hall over the unequal access to green spaces in London, a trend highlighted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “As Mayor, I want London to lead the way in tacking the climate emergency and for all Londoners to have access to great green spaces close to where they live.”

The Mayor also highlighted the role of green spaces in tackling climate change in London, adding: “The new funding I am announcing today during London Climate Action Week is just the start of even more investment in green spaces, nature and projects to help tackle the climate emergency.”

Climate vulnerability

The distribution of the funds will be decided using data, including climate risk mapping, to ensure that the areas of London most vulnerable to climate change and with the least access to open public space will benefit from the scheme.

London’s parks saw an increase in usage during the first lockdown in the UK’s spring lockdown last year, but inequality in access to green spaces is common.

“Not everyone has a nature reserve or waterway on their doorstep … so the creation of more neighbourhood green spaces is something I strongly support and am proud we’re co-funding this inspiring initiative to create a positive legacy for generations to enjoy,” said Sarah Bentley, CEO of London’s water service provider Thames Water, which is providing £500,000 to the Grow Back Greener Fund.

Beating the heat

Green space in cities can be essential for citizens’ health, both physical and mental. And with average summer temperatures rising due to global warming, greening can have a dramatic effect on reducing temperatures.

In Vienna, for example, greening is a key part of the city’s strategy to tackle ‘heat islands’ that can drive up the temperature in urban areas.