We are a group of five postgraduate students at Imperial College studying Environmental Technology. Each member comes from a different background, so we were inspired to tackle the issue of equal access to green spaces from various perspectives. Currently, only about 60% of London residents have access to public green spaces. Our proposed Green Space Budget aims to reduce barriers that prevent citizens from accessing these spaces.
What it does
The Green Space Budget is an allotted sum factored into council tax that is specifically reserved for enhancing and maintaining nature and green spaces, as well as improving physical accessibility, disabled access and online information resources.
The Budget will encourage partnership with local schools to get all children accessing nature and green spaces during their school day. This may be supported by establishing a rapport with local environmental charitable trusts and NGOs such as Friends of the Earth or the National Trust.
The Green Space Budget may be allocated to all potential investments which aim at improving ecologic standard at schools. Based on the international data the biggest bottlenecks in achieving this goal are the distribution of food and liquid waste and ending the emission of the carbon dioxide from student transportation. Different communities introduce various eco school agendas, however due to the limited financing they cannot be introduced in their full scope. Therefore, we believe that establishing the Green Space Budget will succeed in meeting our five key goals to make green spaces more available and clean for students.
What we learned
As a group, we learned the importance of clearly defining terms before attempting to develop a solution to a problem. Specifically, we realized that individuals might attribute different meanings to the term 'access'. While some group members interpreted it in terms of geographic location or physical existence of green spaces, others considered factors such as privilege, inclusivity, and socioeconomic class. Similarly, when addressing this particular challenge, it is important to clearly define 'green space', as most citizens associate the term with large parks or gardens. However, this devalues and is exclusionary towards the role that smaller patches of nature play in urban landscapes.
What's next for The Green Space Budget
Following the Hackathon, the Green Space Budget could be introduced to our example London Borough of Hackney. The budget can be transferred to any local council and scaled accordingly.
Failing a successful adoption by local councils, the idea of Essential Green Space access in schools could still be established in the school curriculum. It would be interesting to approach other local governments elsewhere around the world.