Time’s Up – making green infrastructure count

Globally, the infrastructure renewal spend required by 2030 is estimated at $40 trillion. As we move closer towards peak urbanisation, the infrastructure decisions we make today will be locked in for at least 100 years. With Sydney’s population set to jump 80 per cent over the next three decades, it is more urgent than ever that this is matched by appropriate green infrastructure so that our city stays healthy, liveable, and close to nature.
The NSW Government Architect (GANSW) asked a team of researchers from the UNSW Masters of Urban Policy and Strategy to consider the regulatory and funding barriers to green infrastructure delivery in Sydney, and devise options that address these barriers. This research uses GANSW’s comprehensive definition of green infrastructure included in the draft Greener Places policy:
Green Infrastructure is the network of green spaces, natural systems and semi-natural systems including parks, rivers, bushland and private gardens that are planned, designed and managed to support a good quality of life in an urban environment. Green infrastructure directly and indirectly benefits economies, communities, and the environment. This suite of benefits operates at local and regional through to national and international scales, and accrues to governments, businesses and individuals. However, too often green infrastructure has come off second best, seen as a cost rather than an opportunity to improve our cities. Sydney is running out of time and can no longer afford this approach.
The value of green infrastructure extends far beyond environmental benefits. Environmental assets are also valuable for their economic and social benefits. Therefore, accurately valuing green infrastructure requires capacity to measure different types of benefits. Instrumental, institutional and intrinsic valuation achieve this.
Identifying green infrastructure as a priority objective for government could leverage central agency support for a coordinated and forensic review of policy and regulation that would identify whole-of government barriers to green infrastructure delivery and minimise these.
Based on this research, there are steps the NSW Government could take to enhance green infrastructure delivery in Sydney. They are based on a review of international research and practice and interviews with local stakeholders. Strong leadership, underpinned by substantial institutional value, are central to the successful implementation of these recommendations. Without these elements in place, it will be exceedingly difficult to enhance green infrastructure delivery in Sydney.



Geographic Coverage

New South Wales


witchen , Chris (Author); Lawrie, Alex (Author); Easthope, Dr Hazel (Approver); Freney, Kate (Author); Skinner, Vivienne (Author)


UNSW Research for Evidence Based Policy: 2017