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January 2, 2014, by Blue-Green team

WIT conference on ‘Sustainable Cities’ Malaysia 2013

Blog post by Glyn Everett, Centre for Floods, Communities and Resilience, University of the West of England (CFCR UWE).

I work on WP2c of the Blue-Green Cities (BGC) project, looking to develop evidence-based rules of individual and institutional behaviour in response to flooding and different flood risk management strategies, that we can feed into an agent-based model (ABM) for simulating possible future scenarios and outcomes.

As part of this work, I went to the Wessex Institute of Technology (WIT) Sustainable Cities conference in Malaysia, 2-5 December 2013, to present on a literature review I conducted in my first few months around household behaviour concerning installing flood protection (structural and Blue-Green), and to listen with interest to other papers looking at the future of the city from a sustainability perspective. Many of these papers were not directly relevant to the BGC research, although a few were looking at greening cities for other equally important reasons, such as air quality and biodiversity.

One very interesting paper I heard, which set alarm bells off in my head instantly, concerned converting Japanese sewer systems to take rainwater so as to decrease chances of flooding. A version of it is online here. As a relative newbie to flooding research, this sounded somewhat unwise to me, as I am aware of how much authorities have spent to separate sewage and water networks but here Japan would appear to be going in reverse. It could well be that there are a number of reasons why this might work better in Japan, and I would welcome comments to inform me, as to my mind doing what is suggested will simply increase the chances of foul-water flooding in the future, and mean having to deal with increased quantities of diluted sewage-water in the present. The rationale was to increase the capacity for rainwater drainage (current rainwater systems cannot cope with recent high intensity rainfall events) by using some of the unused space in the sewer system (the decline in industry and population has reduced the inputs to the sewer system).

Other papers on rainwater harvesting in Dhaka City (for water-supply purposes rather than flood-alleviation), the positive effects of green spaces on city-living, progressing green infrastructure policy in Europe, and debates around the growth of waterfront developments and the restoration of lakes meant that there was plenty of interest to attend and learn from, even if not directly flood-related. Past conference papers are available for download.

Unfortunately, I only made 60% of the conference, as food-poisoning took hold on the Wednesday after lunch and I spent the next 30 hours either in bed or with my head over a bucket! This meant that I missed the last two sessions, as well as trips to Kuala Lumpur and a historic city. Hey ho! Y’can’t win ’em all…

Interested in Blue-Green Cities research on behaviour and preferences? Check out work package 2c

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