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Water Sensitive Urban Design for Cities of the Future

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Lorena Escudero.

In 1950 only 30% of the worlds population used to live in cities. This figure has gone up to 55% today and is expected that by 2050, 2 in 3 people will live in cities. This rapid and intense urbanisation process can have significant adverse effects on quality of life, particularly for low income households. Also, vulnerability to natural disasters can be critically high if planning of these urban environments is not well-conceived. Ecosystems are also particularly vulnerable to the urban expansion and densification process. Flooding is the top natural risk in several developing and developed countries, including the UK. Climate change is expected to increase the frequency of flood events. Till recently, traditional engineering has dealt with flooding by giving a very narrowly focused solution: to capture the runoff and convey it somewhere downstream. In doing this, the role of stormwater in the environment has been decontextualized. A series of benefits that sustainable urban water management can offer are, therefore, lost in this process. In addition, this has increased risk for communities downstream. In my presentation I will intend to present some of the underlying connections of the different components of resilient water systems. I will focus on urban flood management that treats stormwater as a valuable resource. I will finally present appraisal methods for determining the right mix between “water sensitive urban design” and traditional piped infrastructure options in the context of climate change adaptation.

This talk is part of the Darwin College Science Seminars series.

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