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Greening Cities , Shaping Cities : Pinpointing Nature-Based Solutions in Cities between Shared Governance and Citizen Participation

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Greening Cities , Shaping Cities : Pinpointing Nature-Based Solutions in Cities between Shared Governance and Citizen Participation

Abstract

The topic of pinpointing Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) in the urban context has been cultivating interests lately from different scholars, urban planning practitioners and policy- makers. This Special Issue originates from the Greening Cities Shaping Cities Symposium held at the Politecnico di Milano (12–13 October 2020), aiming at bridging the gap between the science and practice of implementing NBS in the built environment [1], as well as high- lighting the importance of citizen participation in shared governance and policy making. The Special Issue was also made open to other contributions from outside the symposium in order to allow for contributions from a major scientific and practical audience wherever possible. Indeed, we have gathered contributions from Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Turkey, Brazil, Portugal, Denmark, France, Bulgaria, Sweden, Hungary, Spain, the UAE, the UK, and the USA.
Citation: Mahmoud, I.H.; Morello, E.;
Salvia, G.; Puerari, E. Greening Cities,
Shaping Cities: Pinpointing
Nature-Based Solutions in Cities
between Shared Governance and
Citizen Participation. Sustainability
2022,14, 7011. https://doi.org/
10.3390/su14127011
Received: 20 May 2022
Accepted: 5 June 2022
Published: 8 June 2022
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4.0/).
sustainability
Editorial
Greening Cities, Shaping Cities: Pinpointing Nature-Based
Solutions in Cities between Shared Governance and
Citizen Participation
Israa H. Mahmoud 1, * , Eugenio Morello 1, * , Giuseppe Salvia 2and Emma Puerari 3
1Laboratorio di Simulazione Urbana Fausto Curti, Department of Architecture and Urban Studies (DASTU),
Politecnico of Milan, Via Bonardi, 3, 20133 Milan, Italy
2Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering-The Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and
Resources, UCL–University College of London, London WC1E 6BT, UK; g.salvia@ucl.ac.uk
3Urban Design and Planning, Department of Planning and Environment, Faculty of Spatial Sciences,
University of Groningen, Mercator Building, Room 3.38 Landleven 1, 9747 AD Groningen, The Netherlands;
e.puerari@rug.nl
*Correspondence: israa.mahmoud@polimi.it (I.H.M.); eugenio.morello@polimi.it (E.M.)
The topic of pinpointing Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) in the urban context has been
cultivating interests lately from different scholars, urban planning practitioners and policy-
makers. This Special Issue originates from the Greening Cities Shaping Cities Symposium
held at the Politecnico di Milano (12–13 October 2020), aiming at bridging the gap between
the science and practice of implementing NBS in the built environment [
1
], as well as high-
lighting the importance of citizen participation in shared governance and policy making.
The Special Issue was also made open to other contributions from outside the symposium
in order to allow for contributions from a major scientific and practical audience wherever
possible. Indeed, we have gathered contributions from Italy, Germany, the Netherlands,
Turkey, Brazil, Portugal, Denmark, France, Bulgaria, Sweden, Hungary, Spain, the UAE,
the UK, and the USA.
In particular, a specific focus in this Special Issue is given to investigations on how
NBS and urban greening strategies are re-shaping the built environment and the whole
imagery of cities, both from a spatial and a governance perspective [
2
,
3
]. The intended
result is a set of contributions providing insights and food for thought to urban debates on
design and planning theory, policy and practice around NBS. Nowadays, cities are making
use of nature as a solution to many challenges, without radically and critically addressing
the full potential of interpreting green planning as a powerful urban design instrument and
governance feature [
4
]. For instance, how will vegetation infilling strategies affect planners’
toolkits and decision-making procedures? How can we get citizens involved in the design
and management process around NBS?
Hence, within this Special Issue, an attentive selection of contributions mainly looked
at addressing the procedural gaps in greening city strategies that are nowadays at the
forefront of re-shaping many urban fabrics, specifically by investigating governance and
citizen participation.
A strong emphasis on the viability NBS for implementation often encounters hin-
drances on the governance scale and lacks a strong functional governance model in order
to “make it work”. A big tranche of this pitfall is due to the lack of capacities and communi-
cation between municipal departments, as well as the need to raise awareness on how NBS
operate on a day-to-day activity. Hence, the capacity building and awareness activities
result as one major need in cities’ decision-making processes to make the implementation
of NBS more inclusive and their management shared among more stakeholders within a
sustainable urban planning approach [5].
Sustainability 2022,14, 7011. https://doi.org/10.3390/su14127011 https://www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability
Sustainability 2022,14, 7011 2 of 7
NBS are living and dynamic systems and require specific attention in design and
maintenance. Hence, the engagement and the active role of citizens is crucial [
6
]. One
important aspect of innovation in NBS implementation nowadays is its inclusivity and
its relatedness to citizen-centred approaches for implementation in Urban Living Labs
(ULLs). The notion is that ULLs allow a flexible structural pathway and include a variety of
sleeve tools to bring everyone on board [
7
]. Lessons in this section would mainly address
successful case studies from physical or digital ULLs experiences in implementing NBS in
urban regeneration processes.
Lastly, some of the Special Issue’s contributions also address whether the embed-
dedness of NBS in cities tangibly affects urban morphologies and radically impacts our
approach to urban planning, urban design strategies and, consequently, urban governance
models [
8
]. Integrating nature-based greening plans and NBS seems to be happening more
and more frequently in city strategic planning and city visions; however, a deep recognition
of the role of greening in shaping the overall imagery of cities and renovating the role of
green planning as a quintessential element of design and planning seems to be lacking a
deeper and conscious debate.
In sum, in this Special Issue, we aimed to touch base on many aspects related to NBS
conceptualization, public acceptance, implementation and upscaling in cities. The finality
of our exploration is to find clues towards a critical understanding and interpretation of
how greening cities is affecting urban shaping, both from morphological and governance
point of views. Other related questions on biodiversity and citizens engagement [
9
] or more
technical ones on climate change mitigation and adaptation using remote sensing methods
and GIS were not alluring to the authors of this Special Issue; however, they remain a
starting point for further scientific investigations.
Article 1: From Nature-Based to Nature-Driven: Landscape First for the Design of
Moeder Zernike in Groningen.
In this first article, Roggema gives a fresh perspective on climate change adaptation us-
ing a nature-driven approach [
10
]. He methodologically applies a research-through-design-
process on a case study, namely, “Moeder Zernike campus in Groningen, Netherlands”.
Roggema integrates food systems, coastal and water shortage dynamics as well as urban
agriculture in one visionary future plan for the area using NBS. This research article looks
at the tensions between short-term practices, adaptive climate change management relying
only on data availability and, lastly, on a longer-term view working towards the unknown
impact of future climate change. the main takeaway from this article is how embracing a
nature-driven perspective to urban design increases the adaptive capacity, the ecological
diversity and the range of healthy food grown on a university campus using a co-creative
design-led approach as a way to take nature as the basis for urban transformation.
Article 2: Stakeholder Participation in the Planning and Design of Nature-Based
Solutions. Insights from CLEVER Cities Project in Hamburg.
Arlati et al. [
11
] present reflections on the co-creation practices of NBS deployed in
the frame of the Horizon 2020 project CLEVER Cities by analyzing and discussing the
case study of Hamburg, Germany. The focus of the article is based on an analysis of
the stakeholder engagement methods called to collaborate in the environment of Urban
Living Labs (ULLs) for the co-creation of NBS and the role those stakeholders played
along the process. The potential of NBS to foster participation and support sustainability
transitions was recognized in the Hamburg case study under the circumstances granted by
the Horizon 2020 Programme. The paper argues that the current governance mechanisms
should undergo structural changes in order to allow a broader collaboration and steer the
transition process.
Article 3: Valuing the Invaluable(?)—A Framework to Facilitate Stakeholder En-
gagement in the Planning of Nature-Based Solutions.
In this article, Mok et al. [
12
] present and discuss the logic of a framework aiming at
facilitating stakeholder engagement in the planning of NBS from the project UNaLab—a
Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Action. They exploit the challenges and trade-offs
Sustainability 2022,14, 7011 3 of 7
in approaches of NBS valuation with the goal of identifying key values and engaging
beneficiaries from the public, private and civil society sectors in the development of NBS.
Applied methods such as focus groups, interviews and surveys were used to assess different
framework components and their interlinkages, as well as to test their applicability in urban
planning. The authors develop a case for ’softer ’ approaches to NBS value assessment tools
in order to encourage awareness-raising, stakeholder engagement and mobilize local actors
around NBS to complement ‘harder’ valuation mechanisms. Through a survey with experts
from the projects and several workshops, authors further developed their framework based
on providing a structured approach, which can be used in multiple contexts to facilitate
navigation through the complexity of a common understanding between actors from
different backgrounds and thus support the formation of new alliances for NBS planning
and implementation.
Article 4: Exploring Challenges and Opportunities of Biophilic Urban Design: Ev-
idence from Research and Experimentation.
Andreucci et al. [
13
] explore how the benefits of nature are understood for different
environments and multiple scales, ranging from a building (e.g., workplace) to the neigh-
borhood (e.g., arts and conference complex) and up to the citywide scale. For this aim, the
authors embrace biophilic design theory and make a case for the importance of deepening
the understanding and application of this approach, which is often considered of secondary
priority. The multi-scale examples of NBS implemented in both London and Chicago and
articulated in the article reinforce the importance of a systems-thinking approach, as the
authors also infer in the conclusions. Diverse are the perceptions, experiences and feelings
that people may develop while interacting with NBS while in the Shard or at the Barbican;
however, they are both components of the same city, in which people accomplish their
micro-mundane routines and co-exist in different ways.
Article 5: Evaluating the Relationship between Park Features and Eco therapeutic
Environment: A Comparative Study of Two Parks in Istanbul, Beylikdüzü.
Kara and Oruç [
14
] address the therapeutical benefits of (re-)establishing a connection
with nature, especially in the urban environment. Informed by a literature review on eco-
psychology and eco-therapy, as well as a case study carried out in a district of Istanbul, the
authors explore how the physical attributes of the space affect the user experience of being
in a park, the connection to nature and therefore the therapeutic benefits deriving from this.
The results suggest that the experience of and connectedness to nature is complex, with
several factors and determinants, as it may be sensible to expect for some. In our view, the
main takeaway from the study is the importance of adopting a user-centered approach to
landscape designing and policy making in order to unleash the potential psychological
benefits that NBS can provide. This reflection may encourage stakeholders to reflect on
how ready and equipped they are for this approach to be operationalized.
Article 6: Parque Augusta (São Paulo/Brazil): From the Struggles of a Social Move-
ment to Its Appropriation in the Real Estate Market and the Right to Nature in the City.
In his article, Baumgartner [
15
] reports on the narratives of the implementation from
Parque Augusta in the center of São Paulo, Brazil. After years of struggle with the city
and the real estate developers carried out by an organized social movement and citizens
to avoid building speculation on a precious green space, the collaborative co-design of
an urban park, enriched by green solutions (NBS), has followed. However, during the
park’s construction, the pressure of the properties surronded by high-density buildings
and the reduction in the implementation of the previusly agreed-on green solutions opened
reflections on urban greening processes, on appropriaton dynamics of green areas and on
the right to nature in the city. The natural elements play a key role and represent a powerful
medium in activating citizens in safeguarding and enhancing left-over spaces in cities. The
article proves how such an experience can inform local governments in deploying such civil
society engagement around nature, to improve democracy and support decision-making
processes and the planning of a city’s green space system.
Sustainability 2022,14, 7011 4 of 7
Article 7: Nature-Based Solutions for Storm Water Management—Creation of a
Green Infrastructure Suitability Map as a Tool for Land-Use Planning at the Municipal
Level in the Province of Monza-Brianza (Italy).
Senes et al. [
16
] develop a methodology to define Green Infrastructure for stormwater
management at the municipal level, with an application in the Province of
Monza-Brianza, Italy.
NBS diffused in the city, in combination with the sewer infrastructure, will help see im-
provements arising from reductions in stormwater quantity and reduced sewage overflows.
The goal of this study is to support cities in setting up Green Infrastructure Suitability
Maps as a tool for land-use planning. Hence, aiming at identifying non-urbanized areas
where rainwater can potentially infiltrate, considering also site-specific soil characteristics,
the proposed methodology is defined based on three phases, namely: the definition of
the territorial information needed, the production of base maps and the production of a
Suitability Map. The authors demonstrate how the spatial mapping of NBS proves to be an
effective tool to support the decision-making process for spatial planning.
Article 8: Is Agent-Based Simulation a Valid Tool for Studying the Impact of Nature-
Based Solutions on Local Economy? A Case Study of Four European Cities.
Koppelaar et al. [
17
] describe an agent-based model which reveals the potential inter-
connection between the assessment of the wealth of the commercial urban fabric and the
development of wide NBS (e.g., parks). The reflections are drawn from longitudinal case
studies in three different countries. Despite the limitations of the work finely acknowledged
in their discussion, the authors make the case for the added value of the model, which
supports the decision-making process of urban developments by calculating the indirect
financial benefit of implementing NBS. The article may also raise reflections for the reader
about the wider system of places and practices that the NBS belong to and should be
considered with in order to assess and foster the benefits associated to them.
Article 9: Multi-Level Perspective on Sustainability Transition towards Nature-Based
Solutions and Co-Creation in Urban Planning of Belgrade, Serbia.
With this paper, Miti´c-Radulovi´c and Lalovi´c [
18
] explore the challenge of achieving
clear, coherent and ambitious urban greening strategies embedded in urban planning and
developed in a co-creative, participatory and inclusive manner within the European context.
The work, using the Multi-Level Perspective (MLP) on sustainability transitions, observes
the urban planning system in Belgrade, Serbia, as a socio-technical regime with a focus on
two recent urban development initiatives in Belgrade, the Capital of Serbia, as the specific
context of analysis. In particular, the article examines informal urban planning instruments
that can be implemented by the practitioners of niche innovations to engage constructively
and appropriately in co-creation, supporting urban planners and NBS advocates in the
Serbian and EU enlargement context.
Article 10: Setting the Social Monitoring Framework for Nature-Based Solutions
Impact: Methodological Approach and Pre-Greening Measurements in the Case Study
from CLEVER Cities Milan.
In this article, Mahmoud et al. [
19
] set a new methodological approach for monitoring
the social impacts of NBS on human health and wellbeing, social cohesion and environ-
mental justice, as well as citizens’ perception about safety and security related to the NBS
implementation process. Their methodological approach relies on a co-creation process
using several steps of scoping and gathering information based on the case study of the
Milanese context from CLEVER Cities Horizon 2020 project. The authors examined the
relevance of using NBS in addressing social co-benefits by analyzing data from question-
naires submitted to citizens and participants of activities during pre-greening interventions
against a set of five major indicators: (1) place, use of space and relationship with nature;
(2) perceived ownership and sense of belonging; (3) psychosocial issues, social interactions
and social cohesion; (4) citizen perception about safety and security; and lastly, (5) knowl-
edge about CLEVER interventions and NBS benefits in relation to the socio-demographics
of the questionnaires’ respondents. Lastly, the results are cross-compared within the three
areas of interventions of the project Urban Living Labs (so called CLEVER Action Labs).
Sustainability 2022,14, 7011 5 of 7
The article hence pinpoints the importance of co-producing social monitoring methods
with citizens to set the boundaries for NBS place-based interventions and accentuate citi-
zens’ perceptions about their wellbeing, general health and strong sense of neighborhood
belonging. A wider interest is noted towards civic participation in co-management and
becoming informed about NBS interventions in the Milanese context.
Article 11: Municipal Practices for Integrated Planning of Nature-Based Solutions
in Urban Development in the Stockholm Region.
Brokking, Mörtberg and Balfors [
20
] explore how NBS are addressed in urban devel-
opment processes. The authors propose a study of municipal planning practices related
to NBS and their contribution to regional green infrastructures and social and ecological
qualities. They run their analysis on three case studies in the Stockholm region of Sweden.
They run a mixed method approach using focus groups, interviews and through the study
of official documents. The results of their study highlight that, while the institutional
conditions play a fundamental role in shaping the planning processes that can challenge
the ability to enhance social and ecological qualities, the planning and the design of urban
green spaces play a key role in the engagement of the communities. Co-creation sessions
are fundamental for the development of specific competences for the development of
innovative solutions on private and public green areas. Despite the differences between
the different case studies, the paper concludes that a knowledge-driven and integrative
planning process can foster the potential of NBS for green and sustainable cities.
Article 12: Green and Compact: A Spatial Planning Model for Knowledge-Based
Urban Development in Peri-Urban Areas.
Sanches, Lemes de Oliveira and Celani [
21
] define a multi-scalar spatial planning
model for peri-urban areas and urban voids able to reconcile medium-to-high building
densities with the provision of ecosystem services. They employ a three-scale spatial
planning model: micro, meso and macro. Subsequently, the model is applied to the case
of the International Hub for Sustainable Development (HIDS) in Campinas, Brazil. An
urban design proposal was developed during an international workshop in July 2020 and
was secondly completed with experts’ workshops and planning professionals. Lastly, in
2021, the model was evaluated and validated through a series of workshops looking at
evidence-based solutions and the evaluation of their results in real-time. This research puts
a mark on the practical application of modelling in design exercises towards reducing the
gap between theory and practice, which is beneficial to the approach of NBS.
Article 13: Guidelines for Citizen Engagement and the Co-Creation of Nature-Based
Solutions: Living Knowledge in the URBiNAT Project.
Nunes, Björner and Hilding-Hamann [
22
] focus on citizens’ participation within the
context of urban regeneration projects. Their work aims to develop specific guidelines for
the development of co-creation of NBS. The work was developed within the framework of
the Horizon 2020 project URBiNAT that focuses on the regeneration of underserved urban
districts. The article describes the processes followed within such a project: the collection
of scientific and practical input from both researchers and practitioners first, followed by a
deeper analysis of selected participants. The results highlight what the authors described
as an ‘ecology of knowledges’ based on a ‘living’ framework, addressing the needs of a
broad set of citizens and contexts. The paper includes a discussion on the implementation
of co-creation practices in the development of NBS. The conclusions broaden the research
context to include the refinement of the NBS approach, with participation being seen as
both a means and an end to it.
Article 14: How Do Nature-Based Solutions’ Color Tones Influence People’s Emotional
Reaction? An Assessment via Virtual and Augmented Reality in a Participatory Process.
Piga et al. [
23
] examine the effects of NBS on people’s emotions, focusing on the
reliability of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) simulations as means for
engaging citizens in participatory processes. Their case studies explore the reaction to
existing and designed NBS, showing that some color tones of NBS, namely green and lime,
reduce the unpleasantness experienced while viewing the urban environment. Such effect
Sustainability 2022,14, 7011 6 of 7
is confirmed both in AR and VR, suggesting that increasing urban greenery can have a
positive effect. The results of VR are fully consistent with the previous literature, whereas
in AR, some variables show a different pattern. The authors suggest that available digital
tools are a valuable support for envisioning sustainable urban transformations with diverse
stakeholders, although further interdisciplinary studies are needed to tackle the technical
and ethical implications of such technologies.
Article 15: The Improvement of User Satisfaction for Two Urban Parks in 2 Dubai, UAE:
Bay Avenue Park and Al Ittihad Park.
Jung et al. [
24
] develop a conventional user satisfaction method and questionnaires for
analyzing users’ satisfaction in two urban parks in Dubai, Bay Avenue Park and Al Ittihad
Park. The authors, using a comparative analysis, expose different park users’ behavior,
satisfaction level (based on park environment and accessibility) and users’ demographic
information. Following a descriptive statistics and frequency method, the authors perform
a multiple regression analysis to better understand the physical environment factors af-
fecting each of the two parks’ satisfaction level. Both parks, being the green structures of
neighborhoods and located within walking distances of residential areas, prove to be highly
satisfying, in particular thanks to the presence of natural elements such as green spaces,
trees and trails. This research can be used as basic data for improving the future planning
of urban parks in Dubai, towards a more greening approach to urban planning, including
governmental policy, vision and implementation. This could be possible in the future by
conducting research on more diverse types of parks, other greening strategies and detailing
accessibility-related environmental factors, such as health, community wellbeing and other
physical characteristics, such as the width of sidewalks and types of pavement materials.
Review Article 16: Green(er) Cities and Their Citizens: Insights from the Partici-
patory Budget of Lisbon.
In this article, Falanga, Verheij and Bina [
25
] examine the role of the Participatory
Budget (PB) as a potential driver of urban sustainability. The experience of Lisbon, in
Portugal, a city recognized internationally as a leader in participatory budgeting the early
2000s, is analyzed and discussed. The authors propose a multimethod approach in the
analysis of data on PB calls in Lisbon, investigating emerging trends and variations in
citizen proposals, projects, votes and public funding. Emerging key topics show links
and trade-offs between locally embedded participation and the international discourse on
urban sustainability. A growing interest of project proposals focusing on NBS, involving
citizens and businesses, is emerging. Thoroughly analyzing PB data as an expression of
citizens’ interests and priorities is key to enabling cities to better integrate them into urban
planning strategies and—as argued by the authors—to counteract the dominant engineered
approach towards sustainability, mainly focused on green growth and innovation.
Author Contributions:
Conceptualization, I.H.M. and E.M.; methodology, I.H.M.; formal analy-
sis, I.H.M. and E.M.; investigation, I.H.M. and E.M.; writing—original draft preparation, I.H.M.;
writing—review and editing, E.M.; visualization, G.S. and E.P.; supervision, I.H.M. and E.M.; project
administration, I.H.M. and E.M. All authors have read and agreed to the published version of
the manuscript.
Funding:
The ‘Greening Cities: Shaping Cities’ symposium was co-funded by the Department of Ar-
chitecture and Urban Studies (DASTU), Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy, under the
Grant number MPO0DOTA02
and the CLEVER Cities project. This project has received funding from
the European Union’s Horizon 2020 innovation action program under grant agreement
no. 776604
.
The sole responsibility for the content of this publication lies with the authors. It does not necessarily
represent the opinion of the European Union. Neither the EASME nor the European Commission are
responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.
Acknowledgments:
The editors would like to thank all authors for their excellent contributions, as
well as the scientific external guest editors (especially for articles 10, 12 and 14) and reviewers who
helped achieve this Special Issue in its final form, they are all listed on the Special issue webpage here
https://www.mdpi.com/journal/sustainability/special_issues/greening_cities.
Sustainability 2022,14, 7011 7 of 7
Conflicts of Interest: The authors declare no conflict of interest.
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Book
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Urban greening policies and measures have recently shown a high potential impact on the design and reshaping of the built environment, especially in urban regeneration processes. This book provides insights on analytical methods, planning strategies and shared governance tools for successfully integrating Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) in the urban planning practice. The selected contributions present real-life application cases, in which the mainstreaming of NBS are investigated according to two main challenges: the planning and designing of physical and spatial integration of NBS in cities on one side, and the implementation of suitable shared governance models and co-creation pathways on the other. Chapter 5 is available open access under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License via link.springer.com.
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Citation: Mahmoud, I.H.; Morello, E.; Vona, C.; Benciolini, M.; Sejdullahu, I.; Trentin, M.; Pascual, K.H. Setting the Social Monitoring Framework for Nature-Based Solutions Impact: Methodological Approach and Pre-Greening Measurements in the Case Study from CLEVER Cities Milan. Sustainability 2021, 13, 9672. https://doi.org/10.3390/su13179672
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Over recent decades Urban Living Labs (ULLs) have become a common space for co-creation processes' experimentation, whereby new approaches for sustainable urban development are highly connected to support evidence-based policy generation. Europe seems a particular 'hotspot' for this approach whenever it comes to public policy and specifically planning for urban transition. Systemic changes related to urban governance and different public participatory mechanisms, as in the case of ULLs, demand a growing interest from the stakeholders and deliberation in decision-making mechanisms. In this research paper, we analyze co-creation pathways and different shared governance mechanisms in three ongoing European projects: CLEVER Cities, Sharing Cities, and SUNEX projects from a practice perspective. This comparative study investigates stakeholder engagement (1) scales, (2) mechanisms, (3) methodologies of engagement, and finally the co-creation pathway challenges and pitfalls. From the analyzed ULLs' experiences, we identified key principles that suggest relevant clues to enable the consolidation of a forthcoming ULL 2.0 model and related innovation pathways for co-creating urban planning policies. We lastly reflect on the enablers and catalysts of co-creation processes to inform shared urban governance as major takeaways from our research.
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There is rising scholarly and political interest in participatory budgets and their potential to advance urban sustainability. This article aims to contribute to this field of study through the specific lens of the city of Lisbon’s experience as an internationally acknowledged leader in participatory budgeting. To this end, the article critically examines the lessons and potential contribution of the Lisbon Participatory Budget through a multimethod approach. Emerging trends and variations of citizen proposals, projects, votes, and public funding are analysed in tandem with emerging key topics that show links and trade-offs between locally embedded participation and the international discourse on urban sustainability. Our analysis reveals three interconnected findings: first, the achievements of the Lisbon Participatory Budget show the potential to counteract the dominant engineered approach to urban sustainability; second, trends and variations of the achievements depend on both citizens’ voice and the significant influence of the city council through policymaking; and, third, the shift towards a thematic Green Participatory Budget in 2020 was not driven by consolidated social and political awareness on the achievements, suggesting that more could be achieved through the 2021 urban sustainability oriented Participatory Budget. We conclude recommending that this kind of analysis should be systematically carried out and disseminated within city council departments, promoting much needed internal awareness of PBs’ potential as drivers of urban sustainability. We also identify further research needed into the sustainability potential of green PBs.
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In recent years, nature-based solutions have been increasingly promoted as a climate change adaptation instrument, strongly advocated to be co-created. Achieving clear, coherent, and ambitious urban greening strategies, embedded in urban planning and developed in a co-creative, participatory and inclusive manner, is highly challenging within the EU enlargement context. In this article, such challenges are studied through two recent urban development initiatives in Belgrade, the Capital of Serbia: the first initiative focuses on planning the new Linear Park, within the framework of the CLEVER Cities Horizon 2020 project; the second initiative envisages the transformation of the privatised Avala Film Complex in the Košutnjak Urban Forest, primarily led by private interests but supported by the local authorities. The multiple-case study research method is applied, with an exploratory purpose and as a basis for potential future research on evaluation of co-creation processes for NBS implementation. The theoretical basis of this article is founded in the research on sustainability transitions, focusing on multi-level perspective (MLP) framework. The urban planning system in Belgrade and Serbia is observed as a socio-technical regime of the MLP. In such framework, we recognize co-creative planning of the Linear Park as a niche innovation. We interpret opposition towards planning of the Avala Film Complex as escalation, or an extreme element of the socio-technical landscape, comprised of civic unrests and political tensions on one side, combined with the climate crisis and excessive pollution on the other side. Moreover, the article examines informal urban planning instruments that can be implemented by the practitioners of niche innovations, that could support urban planners and NBS advocates in the Serbian and EU enlargement contexts to face the challenges of motivating all stakeholders to proactively, constructively and appropriately engage in co-creation.
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Urban planning is assumed to play an important role in developing nature-based solutions (NBS). To explore how NBS is addressed in urban development, municipal planning practices are analyzed based on three case studies in the Stockholm region of Sweden. Through focus group discussions, interviews and document studies, the planning and implementation of NBS and their intended contribution to regional green infrastructure (GI) and social and ecological qualities are investigated. The results show that the planning and design of urban green spaces engages the local community. Moreover, different conceptual frameworks are used to strengthen an ecological perspective and nurture expected outcomes, in particular ecosystem services and GI. Through competence development and collaborative approaches, the co-creation of innovative solutions for public and private green spaces is promoted. However, institutional conditions, e.g., legal frameworks and landownership shape the planning process and can challenge the ability to enhance social and ecological qualities. An assessment of the planning processes indicates a strong focus on ecosystem services and local GI, while the potential to contribute to regional GI differs widely between cases. The study concludes that a knowledge-driven and integrative planning process can foster the potential of NBS for green and sustainable cities.