Sponge city concept for flood anticipation

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Sponge city concept for flood anticipation

Sponge cities are reshaping urban design to build climate resilience. But how effective are they?
As countries around the world face increasing challenges from devastating floods and unusually heavy rainfall, the idea of ‘sponge cities’ has gained more traction in recent years.

In China, floods are common, the most recent one in Sichuan province destroying homes and killing several people. Water in general has been a problem for decades in the country, with northern provinces experiencing drought and southern provinces prone to flooding.

The concept of a “sponge city” was first proposed in 2000 by an architect named Yu Kongjian. The idea is to create urban areas that can retain, clean, and reuse rainwater, collect and recycle rainwater effectively, and direct it to areas where it is needed. However, it was only in 2014 that this concept was officially promoted and established by the Chinese government to deal with urban flooding and its management.

The concept could help cities build climate resilience, according to Dr Faith Chan, a professor at the University of Nottingham Ningbo China, who has authored studies on sponge cities in China.

“The spongy city concept can provide many benefits in building climate resilience, such as expanding urban greening [and reducing] the heat island effect and carbon [budgeting] to eliminate the greenhouse effect [in cities] that have overcome heatwaves or urban heat effects,” Dr Chan told FairPlanet, adding that the concept could also address urban rainwater.

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