From rising sea levels in Mumbai to unbearable heat in Houston, cities around the world are feeling the effects of climate change. Unfortunately, they don’t always have the right infrastructure to handle its impacts — which is one reason why cities are beginning to reimagine urban design.
Dozens of urban areas are experimenting with “spongey” infrastructure as a potential solution. It goes by different names around the world, but they all follow a similar design philosophy: remove existing pipes and drains to manage rain and stormwater, and implement natural infrastructure like rain gardens and vegetation to absorb water instead. The result? Lush, green, rainforests against the backdrop of dense urban areas. These designs are not only great for managing urban flooding, but they also support biodiversity — which is one of our strongest tools in the fight against climate change.
In the video above, we take a look at sponge city designs around the world and explain how they work. Plus, urban wildlife ecology and conservation researcher Charlie Nilon explains why biodiversity is essential to urban areas, and how natural infrastructure projects, like sponge cities, can help make our concrete jungles rich with plant and animal species.
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