BEGIN: European cooperation to fight climate change

Sixteen organizations from six European countries are working together in a new international research project. BEGIN stands for 'Blue Green Infrastructures through Social Innovation'. Organizations from Belgium, Germany, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and The Netherlands are working together to find solutions for climate change. The University of Sheffield is one of the partners in the project. Project partners are meeting from June 12-14 in Gothenburg, Sweden.

Climate change has been very much in the news lately. The recent turn of events around the Paris Agreement makes it all the more clear that Europe will have an important lead in this matter. Climate adaptations are not something you simply impose, water companies, municipalities and citizens need to work together - and that is exactly what BEGIN focusses on.

Blue Green InfrastructureCitizen engagement

Cities are not sufficiently prepared to withstand ever more frequent and heavier rainfall due to climate change. The conventional grey infrastructure (e.g. sewer systems and the like) need additional so-called 'blue green' solutions. 'Blue' means: for instance, more capacity for water storage and drainage. 'Green' means: for example, less pavement. These blue green measures not only help to cope with the extreme weather conditions, they also contribute to a more attractive and enjoyable living environment.

It is BEGIN's aim to find and show improved climate adaptation solutions in urban areas, to identify the benefits, and to have measures installed and maintained by social initiatives. BEGIN also seeks to have blue green infrastructure perceived as an obvious and integral part of urban development, by developing projects and lowering thresholds.

Active role for local community

What makes this project so special, is the active role for the local community. We are reaching out to local citizens, entrepreneurs and social institutions to collaborate in the creation and maintenance of solutions that will make our living environment more attractive, resistant and resilient when it comes to coping with the consequences of climate change.


The BEGIN project will run from 2017 to 2020. The participating partners are:

  • from Belgium: City of Antwerp; and City of Ghent;
  • from Germany: Agency for Roads Bridges and Waters, Hamburg; and the Hamburg University of Technology;
  • from Norway: City of Bergen;
  • from Sweden: City of Gothenburg;
  • from the United Kingdom: City of Bradford Metropolitan District Council; Construction Industry Research Information Association (CIRIA); Enfield Borough of London; Kent County Council; Royal College of Arts; University of Sheffield; and the Aberdeen City Council.
  • from The Netherlands: UNESCO-IHE Delft; Erasmus University Rotterdam; and the City of Dordrecht

The project is lead by the City of Dordrecht.

BEGIN is a project funded by Interreg Europe, who helps regional and local governments across Europe to develop and deliver better policy.

Begin logoThe role of University of Sheffield

Researchers at The University of Sheffield will contribute to the delivery of two work packages - one on valuing blue green infrastructure, and the other on city-to-city learning during the project. The Sheffield team is lead by Dr Liz Sharp.