There is great interest in the potential for Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) to substitute for or complement conventional ‘grey’ infrastructure. This could include:
As well as providing ecosystem services that may substitute for ‘grey’ infrastructure, these Nature-Based Solutions provide multiple co-benefits, including carbon sequestration, natural habitats and spaces for recreation. There is a growing number of examples of implantation of these NBS, though the evidence for their effectiveness usually comes from relatively small case studies.
We wish to take our research on infrastructure systems a significant step further by incorporating Nature-Based Solutions as an infrastructure option and comparing the costs and benefits of NBS with ‘grey’ infrastructure. We would like to conduct a large-scale assessment so we can compare national infrastructure plans with integrated pathways that incorporate NBS to the greatest possible extent. We wish to demonstrate how nature can be preserved and restored whilst delivering the infrastructure services that people need and plotting a pathway of climate-compatible development.
The research will involve analysis of the evidence for the effectiveness of the full range of NBS and then development of methodology to identify how and to what extent NBS might substitute for or complement conventional grey infrastructure investments. We will examine ways of quantifying the costs and benefits of NBS alongside grey infrastructure. We will identify a large-scale domain, which may be at national or continental scales, and apply spatial optimisation methodology to incorporate NBS in infrastructure investment programmes.
The project will involve a combination of evidence review, geospatial analysis, decision analysis and multi-objective optimisation. It will suit students from any quantified background, including environmental sciences, engineering or economics. Students should be able to demonstrate aptitude for computer modelling and geospatial analysis, and enthusiasm to address real-world problems of great policy significance.
Hall, J.W., Tran, M., Hickford, A.J. and Nicholls, R.J. (eds.) The Future of National Infrastructure: A System of Systems Approach, Cambridge University Press, 2016.
Kapos, V., Wicander, S., Salvaterra, T., Dawkins, K., Hicks, C. 2019. The Role of the Natural Environment in Adaptation, Background Paper for the Global Commission on Adaptation. Rotterdam and Washington, D.C.: Global Commission on Adaptation.
Dadson, S. J., Hall, J. W., Murgatroyd, A., Acreman, M., Bates, P., Beven, K., Heathwaite, L., Holden, J., Holman, I., Lane, S. N., O’Connell, E., Penning-Rowsell, E., Reynard, N., Sear, D., Thorne, C. & Wilby, R. 2017. A restatement of the natural science evidence concerning catchment-based ‘natural’ flood management in the UK. Proc. of the Royal Society of London Series A Mathematical Physical and Engineering Sciences, 473 (2017): 20160706. DOI: 10.1098/rspa.2016.0706
Hall, J.W. Using system-of-systems modelling and simulation to inform sustainable infrastructure choices, IEEE Systems, Man and Cybernetics Magazine, DOI:10.1109/MSMC.2019.2913565.
Hall, J.W., Thacker, S., Ives, M.C., Cao, Y., Chaudry, M., Blainey, S.P. and Oughton, E.J., Strategic analysis of the future of national infrastructure, Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Civil Engineering, 170(1) (2017): 39-47. DOI: 10.1680/jcien.16.00018
Thacker, S., Adshead, D., Fay, M., Hallegatte, S., Harvey, M., Meller, H., O’Regan, N., Rozenberg, J. and Hall, J.W. Infrastructure for Sustainable Development, Nature Sustainability, 2 (2019):324–331. DOI: 10.1038/s41893-019-0256-8.