Infrastructure is a key enabler of sustainable development. It provides people with the services they need to thrive while also protecting the environment from anthropogenic factors, such as pollution. Simultaneously, urban development—if done unsustainably—it might be the main drivers of biodiversity loss and climate change. In cities, infrastructure should be carefully planned because urban areas are challenged by rapid population growth and increasing climate impacts.
Cities around the world worked hard to provide people with the infrastructure they need to thrive. These include roads, expressways, viaducts, flood control project, and the like. However, some planners failed to execute the basic tenets and principles that infrastructure projects should integrate nature. In consequence, these infrastructures instead of providing environmental protection have caused environmental disaster.
For instance, in many cities in the country, the absence of a comprehensive drainage system has been disastrous. Without any drainage canals included in road concreting projects failed to consider the volume of storm water and rainwater during heavy downpour of rains. The results are, the nearby communities are heavily flooded causing inconvenience to the residents and worse, it damaged the newly completed concrete road and the taxpayers’ money spent to build it was wasted.
It is about time to make it mandatory that drainage canals be included in all government-funded road concreting projects, or else we might face the gloomy fate of poorly planned urban areas. The once bustling town of Pantabangan in Nueva Ecija province is now underwater. Hazard maps should have been disseminated long ago to at least guide our decision makers on the potential impact of the nature’s wrath and other climate change risks.
Cities and urban areas in our country should push for the nature-based infrastructure. To maximize its benefits, the value of nature must be at the heart of urban infrastructure planning-by building urban green spaces, green roof, stormwater impounding project, mangrove greenbelt, wetlands and the like. It can prevent erosion and flood, manage runoff, reduce wave intensity, provide recreation and wildlife habitats, among others.
It is important to remember that there is no magical solution to this problem. There is no single solution. The Global Biodiversity Framework and other agenda for instance can serve as the guideline towards achieving metamorphic change, but it is up to our cities to reinvent themselves in order to become engines for effective change, to unleash the tremendous power of truly nature-positive cities.