Ireland’s Aidan ffrench Green infrastructure Project Manager, Dún Laoghaire–Rathdown County Council‘s, gives his personal reflections on the #EUGIC conference and taking forward green infrastructure in his local authority and Ireland. This is the third post-conference reflection of a series participants at the 2015 European Urban Green Infrastructure Conference (EUGIC) in Vienna. As a delegate, Aidan is the first to reflect. Anyone else who attended the conference please contact us
A hectic few months – before and since Vienna. Pope Francis’ brilliant encyclical (‘Laudate Si’), Naomi Klein at the Vatican; a cool Vienna GI conference, COP21 Paris: much to digest! As the only delegate from Ireland – where there is an evident inertia/agnosticism in politics and construction sectors towards GI, Vienna was an eye-opener, encouraging and useful and a saviour! The format, multiple sessions, breadth of topics was a multi-faceted menu, whetting the appetite for more: let’s go, do it even better! Back-to-earth at the office was anti-climatical: daily realities removed easy assumptions about being the ‘change-agent’/champion for GI – our conference mandated. Now, I’m positive and grounded-in realistic potentialities – the conference messages must bear fruit.
Amidst the excellent techno, policy, research, trending stuff of green roofs, vertical walls, wetlands, trees… what touched me most was John Little’s humanitarian approach to social housing. It was the ‘people thingy’! Delegates pretty agreed as much. For me, conference follow-ups (ongoing supports, networking, mentoring, advocacy) are vital to maintaining momentum in policy, praxis and research.
To Champion GI in Ireland
Vienna provided a platform to champion GI locally, in Ireland and internationally; pointing to a delivery prospectus. Ireland has much to learn from its fellow Europeans, using the evidence base to advance standards and projects. Opportunities abound: civil society, current flooding crisis, the new Climate Change Act just passed. The politics of flooding in Ireland is alive. My first action on returning? Seeking a meeting with the responsible government minister – he’s my local politician. Media coverage on the flooding is maximum here with calls for the Dutch to assist But GI can and must contribute. The General Election in Ireland (spring 2016) means GI advocacy is a must!
Green Infrastructure and the The ‘People Thingy’
So, John Little and ‘the people thingy’: my parting gift from Vienna was an accidental discovery, dashing from hotel to airport, camera in hand. A chance turn – and there, beside the Film Archive, a most delightful community/arts/garden off Taborstrasse: a joy! What resonated wasn’t so much the physicality, but a brief encounter with a young mum and her son savouring the place, despite freezing temperatures. People using green spaces – don’t you love it/them? the people of Ireland want this sort of thing too.
Laudate Si (Praise Be!) the Earth and its People (all) – to all my conference friends.