One of Liverpool's urban living green walls
One of Liverpool's urban living green walls

Liverpool City Council among finalists for global climate award

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Liverpool City Council is among one of seventeen outstanding organisations delivering innovative climate solutions that have reached the finals of the prestigious 2023 Ashden Awards.

A total of 240 organisations applied for the 2023 Ashden Awards, and Liverpool City Council’s URBAN GreenUp Programme is one of just two finalists in the Local Nature Recovery category, after a rigorous assessment and judging process involving on-the-ground visits and input from sector experts.

Liverpool City Council’s URBAN GreenUP programme is an innovative, international research project that has begun to change how cities can use green (planted) and blue (water) spaces to help us better adapt to the future predicted impacts of climate change. 

The city council has worked with the Mersey Forest and the University of Liverpool to test how different types of green and blue spaces (nature-based solutions) can be retrofitted into urban city spaces to provide an array of environmental, social and economic benefits. 

The range of projects delivered include three different types of vertical green walls, a pollinator roof, trees providing sustainable urban drainage in the heart of the city, water retention ponds in a city park and Liverpool’s first urban city raingarden.

The £3.5m programme, funded by the EU’s Horizon 2020 initiative, has also involved different types of tree planting, floating ecosystem islands in the city centre docks system and a park lake, as well as a mobile ‘pop up’ forest and some innovative pollinator spaces and verges in the city.

To date, 40 URBAN GeenUp projects have been delivered across the city.

Councillor Liam Robinson, Leader of Liverpool City Council and lead member on Climate Change, said: “The URBAN GreenUp programme has transformed many parts of Liverpool from grey landscapes to green oases. Collectively they’ve helped us begin the process of thinking about how we plan, prepare and adapt for the future impacts of climate change.

“Their introduction has also resulted in an improved quality of life for our residents and wildlife through improved air and water quality and enhanced biodiversity.

“Some of the projects have helped create shadier spaces with cooler summer air temperatures, others have increased carbon capture, improved accessibility to greenspaces, created volunteering opportunities, improved mental health and wellbeing while at the same time providing cost and energy savings.

“This has been a tremendous team effort along with Mersey Forest and the University of Liverpool and the city is learning all the time, sharing its results across the URBAN GreenUp network so we can continue to improve what we do.

“It’s very rewarding to be recognised and shortlisted by the Ashden Awards. It shows we’re on the right path but we can’t rest on our laurels. There is so much more to do and we all have a role to play in reducing our carbon footprint and introducing those little changes to our daily lives, from how we travel, to what we buy and what we eat.”

Juliet Staples, Liverpool’s URBAN Green Up programme manager, said: “The URBAN GreenUP programme has been a game changer for Liverpool. The European funding has allowed us to explore different types of planting projects and nature-based solutions to identify those that can deliver the greatest environmental, social and economic benefits for the city. 

“The project has highlighted the importance of integrating innovative green planting solutions with traditional grey infrastructure schemes to help create a more liveable and sustainable environment. By enhancing our biodiversity and increasing the city’s climate resilience we provide a better quality of life for the city’s residents, visitors and our wildlife.“ 

Ashden, a UK charity, has been spotlighting transformative climate solutions for more than 20 years through their prestigious Ashden Awards scheme.

Dr Stephen Hall, Head of Awards at Ashden, said: “Our finalists are boundary-pushing pioneers cutting emissions and restoring nature. Crucially, they show how green jobs and community projects can drive a just transition and more equal society.”

“This blows apart the ridiculous idea that net zero will make us all worse off. Politicians should put our finalists and other trailblazers at the heart of inclusive, ambitious plans for a sustainable future.”

The finalists for all Awards will be judged by international specialists on each award category. The winners will be announced in London in-person/online on 14 November 2023.

Liverpool Waterfront