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IGNITION – steering the way to a greener Greater Manchester

“Climate emergency” is the Oxford English Dictionary’s word of the year 2019 and it’s not hard to see why.


As flooding, rising rivers and upland fires become more common and summer temperatures soar, it can be impossible to know what extreme weather to expect next.


Current data suggests that around 250,000 properties are currently at risk of surface-water flooding in Greater Manchester and around 50,000 properties have a 1 in 100 chance of flooding in any given year. It’s safe to say that the effects of climate change have begun to take their toll on our city region.


That’s where the IGNITION project comes in. Now, seven months since the project started work, IGNITION is well on its way to giving us the tools we need to increase green infrastructure in Greater Manchester by 10% by 2038 and helping to stop the effects of climate change.


So, what is IGNITION?

The IGNITION project kicked off in April this year and will run for two and a half years, backed by £4 million from the EU’s Urban Innovation Actions initiative (UIA). The project will develop new means of financing and delivering climate change solutions across the region. These methods will all be based around the natural environment and include things likes green roofs, living walls and rain gardens. These nature-based solutions will also help to improve air quality, increase the level of biodiversity and help to improve the health and well-being of citizens.


GMCA is working with 11 partners to increase our city-region’s urban green infrastructure by 10%, by 2038 engaging with the public as well as researchers and key investors who will help to build a greener Greater Manchester.


Greater Manchester’s mayor Andy Burnham said:


“We are serious about our green ambitions in Greater Manchester – to become carbon neutral by 2038 and one of the world’s leading green city-regions. This funding will play a key role in accelerating our plans to make Greater Manchester a world-leading city region for green, resilient and low carbon living.”


The IGNITION team is now in place and ready to go!


What’s been happening so far?

As well as speaking with green investment groups and presenting at key events across the city region, team IGNITION has been hard at work getting the project up and running:


Living Lab underway

The University of Salford is on its way to hosting a campus-wide ‘living laboratory’ for urban green infrastructure, such as green roofs, walls and gardens. These features will be installed across the main campus to show other cities how they can also invest in climate change adaption features.


The project – which is currently in its final design phase – will show ways that businesses can help offset flooding, urban heatwaves and air pollution as well as increasing health and wellbeing.


UKGBC supplier engagement event

On Thursday 12th December UKGBC will host an all-day event to engage building suppliers with green infrastructure. The day includes a series of inspirational talks, a presentation on the University of Salford’s innovative ‘Living Lab’ and networking with key contacts.


This will be a great opportunity for suppliers and other stakeholders to understand the future potential for green infrastructure in Greater Manchester and raise their business profiles within the industry.


Citizen engagement workshops

The Royal Horticultural Society, Groundwork and City of Trees have been touring the region, providing sessions to engage people with nature-based solutions. The groups of up to 15 people at a time aim to get people engaged with their local environment and find out exactly why city regions like Greater Manchester need green spaces. The workshops will take place until the end of January and aim to target 250 people.


Nature-based solutions evidence base being created

GMCA is working alongside partners like City of Trees and UKGBC to produce an evidence base looking at the effects of already existing nature-based solutions. A piece of work like this will help to inform business models and show which solutions can lead to financial gain for businesses and areas.


IGNITION in the national news

Nick Davies of the University of Salford’s Living Lab spoke to The Independent about how green roofs can vastly improve city life and asked the question ‘so, why don’t we see more of them?’ Read the full article here.


Building on pilot projects

IGNITION will be building on the pilot projects seen in two schools in Greater Manchester. The schools, based in Sale, installed rain gardens which are a key feature of the IGNITION project and will help to reduce water rates and flooding in the area. 


The IGNITION project and the solutions it develops have a far wider relevance than Greater Manchester and potential start to draw the greenprint for cities everywhere to fund and deliver the natural environment resilience solutions we all need.

Keep up to date with everything IGNITION at @GMLowCarbonHub