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Glossary item | Last updated: 27 Aug 2021

Green and Blue Infrastructures

Green infrastructure is a strategically planned network of natural and semi-natural areas with other environmental features designed and managed to deliver a wide range of ecosystem services such as water purification, air quality, space for recreation and climate mitigation and adaptation. This network of green (land) and blue (water) spaces can improve environmental conditions and therefore citizens' health and quality of life. It also supports a green economy, creates job opportunities and enhances biodiversity. The Natura 2000 network constitutes the backbone of the EU green infrastructure.

Green infrastructure planning is a successfully tested tool to provide environmental, economic and social benefits through natural solutions. In many cases, it can reduce dependence on 'grey' infrastructure that can be damaging to the environment and biodiversity, and often more expensive to build and maintain.

The European Commission has developed a Green Infrastructure Strategy. This strategy aims to ensure that the protection, restoration, creation and enhancement of green infrastructure become an integral part of spatial planning and territorial development whenever it offers a better alternative, or is complementary, to standard grey choices.


Green Infrastructure a tool for providing ecological, economic and social benefits through natural solutions, incorporating green spaces, aquatic ecosystems and other physical features in terrestrial and marine areas.

Source: EURO-Lex

Unlike single-purpose grey infrastructure, biodiversity-rich green spaces can perform a variety of extremely useful functions, often simultaneously and at very low cost, for the benefit of people, nature and the economy.

Source: EURO-Lex

There are opportunities to optimise climate action when developing joint mitigation and adaptation in urban planning. For example, urban green spaces, corridors and green and blue infrastructure can deliver adaptation benefits and absorb emissions and pollution, and permeable surfaces to address floods in urban areas. Cities will also be major clients for climate services and emerging businesses may provide solutions to city planners that combine optimal mitigation and adaptation ideas. Cities that prioritise resilient and low-emission urban development at once will enjoy a competitive advantage and attract investments

Source: EURO-Lex

Green Infrastructure - concept that highlights the importance of the natural environment in decisions about land use planning. It places emphasis on the "life support" functions provided by a network of natural ecosystems and on their interconnectivity to support long-term sustainability.

Source: EURO-Lex

(infrastructure): The basic network or foundation of capital facilities or community investments which are necessary to support economic and community activities.

Source: EEA Glossary