Participatory Governance of Urban Green Spaces: Trends and Practices in the EU

Alexander P.N. van der Jagt, Birgit H.M. Elands, Bianca Ambrose-Oji, Éva Ger?házi, Maja Steen Mřller, Marleen Buizer


Green spaces provide a variety of benefits that contribute to more healthy and attractive cities. This paper, building upon results of the EU FP7 GREEN SURGE project, aims to identify, describe and categorize innovative participatory governance practices characterized by non-governmental actor involvement in the maintenance, decision-making or management of urban green spaces. A total of 20 cities in 14 EU-countries were studied and for each of these, information on participatory governance arrangements was acquired using a multi-method approach. This was a combination of: a) semi-structured interviews with green space planning city officials, b) desk studies, and c) analysis of planning documents with relevance to urban green space. We identified four broad trends influencing participatory governance policies and practices in the EU, and we categorized participatory governance practices relating to urban green spaces into seven clusters. To capture and compare between different cities and countries the different ways in which non-governmental actors are involved in urban green space governance, we introduced a participatory governance matrix. The matrix has two dimensions: mode of governance (ranging from government regulation to self-governance) and means of participation (ranging from more structural institutional influence to influence through hands-on activities). By considering participatory governance practices along with trends at a European level, practitioners are provided with an improved understanding of how to harness the potential of civil society in urban green space management, now and into the future.

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