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

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Sustainable Urban and Rural Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 January 2022) | Viewed by 24834

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Israa H. Mahmoud
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Laboratorio di Simulazione Urbana Fausto Curti, Department of Architecture and Urban Studies (DAStU), Politecnico di Milano, 20133 Milan, Italy
Interests: nature-based solutions; co-creation; urban greening; shared governance
Prof. Dr. Eugenio Morello
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Laboratorio di Simulazione Urbana Fausto Curti, Department of Architecture and Urban Studies (DAStU), Politecnico di Milano, 20133 Milan, Italy
Interests: urban sustainability; climate planning; urban planning and design; co-creation; urban greening
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Giuseppe Salvia
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute for Environmental Design and Engineering - The Bartlett School of Environment, Energy and Resources; UCL – University College of London; London, UK
Interests: participatory and co-design; sustainable production and consumption; systemic thinking
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals
Dr. Emma Puerari
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Planning and Environment I Faculty of Spatial Sciences, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands
Interests: urban innovation; urban public service innovation and governance; urban sustainability transition; urban design and civic initiatives; urban planning and design

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The topic of pinpointing nature-based solutions (NBS) in the urban context has lately been attracting interest from different scholars, urban planning practitioners, and policymakers. 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 science and practice of getting NBS implemented in the built environment. In particular, we invite scholars to investigate 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. This Special Issue welcomes scientific articles that cover novel insights into urban debates on design and planning theory, policy, and practice around NBS. Currently, cities are making use of nature as a solution to many challenges, without radically and critically addressing the full potential of interpreting green as a powerful urban design and governance feature. For instance, how will vegetation infilling strategies affect the planners’ toolkit and decision-making procedures? How can we get citizens involved in the design and management process around NBS?

We invite authors to address the procedural gaps in strategies for greening cities that are currently at the forefront of the re-shaping of many urban fabrics. Specifically, we aim to investigate the following aspects:

Governance: A strong emphasis on NBS viability for implementation often encounters hindrances on the governance scale and lacks a strong functional governance model to “make it work”. A big tranche of this pitfall is due to the lack of capacity and communication between municipality departments and each other, as well as the need to raise awareness on how the NBS operate in day-to-day activity. Hence, capacity building and awareness activities are a major need in city decision-making processes to make NBS implementation more inclusive and managerially shared. Citizen participation: NBS are living and dynamic systems and require specific attention in design and maintenance. Hence, the engagement and active role of citizens is crucial. One important aspect of innovation in NBS implementation is its inclusivity and its relatedness to citizen-centered approaches for implementation in urban living labs (ULL). ULLs allow a flexible structural pathway and include a variety of sleeve tools to bring everyone on board. Lessons in this section would mainly address the successful case studies from physical or digital ULLs experiences of implementing NBS in urban regeneration processes.

Hence, the major question we posed is whether the embeddedness of NBS in cities tangibly affects urban morphologies and radically impacts our approach to urban planning and design strategies and urban governance. Integrating nature and NBS seems to be happening more and more frequently in city strategic planning and visions; however, there seems to be a lack of deeper and conscious debate concerning the recognition of the role of greening in shaping the overall imagery of cities and renovating the role of green as a quintessential element of design and planning.

This Special Issue will touch base on many aspects related to NBS conceptualization, implementation, and upscaling in cities. Finally, work that helps to understand and interpret how greening cities is affecting urban shaping, both from a morphological and governance point of view, is also welcome.

Dr Israa H. Mahmoud
Prof. Dr. Eugenio Morello
Dr. Giuseppe Salvia
Dr. Emma Puerari
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • nature-based solutions
  • greening cities
  • shaping cities
  • co-creation
  • shared governance

Published Papers (17 papers)

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Editorial

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Editorial
Greening Cities, Shaping Cities: Pinpointing Nature-Based Solutions in Cities between Shared Governance and Citizen Participation
Sustainability 2022, 14(12), 7011; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14127011 - 08 Jun 2022
Viewed by 369
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 policymakers [...] Full article

Research

Jump to: Editorial, Review

Article
The Improvement of User Satisfaction for Two Urban Parks in Dubai, UAE: Bay Avenue Park and Al Ittihad Park
Sustainability 2022, 14(6), 3460; https://doi.org/10.3390/su14063460 - 16 Mar 2022
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 484
Abstract
The population of Dubai has increased dramatically in the last 40 years. Along with social changes, neighborhood parks are becoming increasingly important for enhancing the residents’ quality of life. This study aims to evaluate the physical environment of parks and investigate park users’ [...] Read more.
The population of Dubai has increased dramatically in the last 40 years. Along with social changes, neighborhood parks are becoming increasingly important for enhancing the residents’ quality of life. This study aims to evaluate the physical environment of parks and investigate park users’ satisfaction in neighborhood parks of Dubai. After defining the park and surrounding environment for access, a field survey was performed at Bay Avenue Park and Al Ittihad Park. The data for analysis were collected from the Department of Geographical Information System (GIS) Center at Dubai Municipality. The results show that the standard duration was 60–90 min, and the walking/driving time was 10–20 min. “Children Facility” and “Various Attractions” were low in both parks. The statistical results of multiple regression analysis of the derived factors and satisfaction show that Bay Avenue Park influenced satisfaction in the surrounding environment for access, pedestrian space, park facility, convenience and comfort of the park, and various attractions and activities. Furthermore, Al Ittihad Park influenced satisfaction in pedestrian space, green landscape, surrounding environment for access, park facilities, and safe access. Therefore, factors such as park facilities, surrounding environment for access, and pedestrian space were analyzed to affect satisfaction in both parks. The analysis of the surrounding environment for access factors using GIS would methodologically help determine priorities for future improvements around parks. However, this study is limited by the scope and investigation period of the target parks, and detailed factors related to the surrounding environment for access are also not evaluated. Full article
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Article
How Do Nature-Based Solutions’ Color Tones Influence People’s Emotional Reaction? An Assessment via Virtual and Augmented Reality in a Participatory Process
Sustainability 2021, 13(23), 13388; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132313388 - 03 Dec 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 799
Abstract
Simulations of urban transformations are an effective tool for engaging citizens and enhancing their understanding of urban design outcomes. Citizens’ involvement can positively contribute to foster resilience for mitigating the impact of climate change. Successful integration of Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) into the urban [...] Read more.
Simulations of urban transformations are an effective tool for engaging citizens and enhancing their understanding of urban design outcomes. Citizens’ involvement can positively contribute to foster resilience for mitigating the impact of climate change. Successful integration of Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) into the urban fabric enables both the mitigation of climate hazards and positive reactions of citizens. This paper presents two case studies in a southern district of Milan (Italy), investigating the emotional reaction of citizens to existing urban greenery and designed NBS. During the events, the participants explored in Virtual Reality (VR) (n = 48) and Augmented Reality (AR) (n = 63) (i) the district in its current condition and (ii) the design project of a future transformation including NBS. The environmental exploration and the data collection took place through the exp-EIA© method, integrated into the mobile app City Sense. The correlations between the color features of the viewed landscape and the emotional reaction of participants showed that weighted saturation of green and lime colors reduced the unpleasantness both in VR and AR, while the lime pixel area (%) reduced the unpleasantness only in VR. No effects were observed on the Arousal and Sleepiness factors. The effects show high reliability between VR and AR for some of the variables. Implications of the method and the benefits for urban simulation and participatory processes are discussed. Full article
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Article
Guidelines for Citizen Engagement and the Co-Creation of Nature-Based Solutions: Living Knowledge in the URBiNAT Project
Sustainability 2021, 13(23), 13378; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132313378 - 03 Dec 2021
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 1081
Abstract
Participation and citizen engagement are fundamental elements in urban regeneration and in the deployment of nature-based solutions (NBS) to advance sustainable urban development. Various limitations inherent to participatory processes concerning NBS for inclusive urban regeneration have been addressed, and lessons have been learnt. [...] Read more.
Participation and citizen engagement are fundamental elements in urban regeneration and in the deployment of nature-based solutions (NBS) to advance sustainable urban development. Various limitations inherent to participatory processes concerning NBS for inclusive urban regeneration have been addressed, and lessons have been learnt. This paper investigates participation and urban regeneration and focuses on the development of guidelines for citizen engagement and the co-creation of NBS in the H2020 URBiNAT project. The methodology first involves the collection of scientific and practical input on citizen engagement from a variety of stakeholders, such as researchers and practitioners, to constitute a corpus of qualitative data. This input is then systematized into guideline categories and serves as the basis for a deeper analysis with researchers, experts, and practitioners, both inside and outside URBiNAT, and in dialogue with other cases of participatory NBS implementation. The results highlight an ‘ecology of knowledges’ based on a ‘living’ framework, which aims to address the specific needs of various segments of citizens and to match citizen engagement to the participatory cultures of cities. Implications and further research are also discussed, with a special focus on the implementation 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. Full article
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Article
Green and Compact: A Spatial Planning Model for Knowledge-Based Urban Development in Peri-Urban Areas
Sustainability 2021, 13(23), 13365; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132313365 - 02 Dec 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 925
Abstract
A seemingly unresolved debate in urban planning is the call for compactness and the provision of intra-urban green spaces. This article defines a multi-scalar spatial planning model for peri-urban areas and urban voids able to reconcile medium to high building densities with the [...] Read more.
A seemingly unresolved debate in urban planning is the call for compactness and the provision of intra-urban green spaces. This article defines 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. The research is framed within design science research, and the theoretical definition of the model was followed by its application to the International Hub for Sustainable Development (HIDS) proposed by the University of Campinas, Brazil. The model’s parameters and indicators derive from a literature review, case studies, and GIS spatial analyses. A series of expert workshops and a survey were carried out to test and validate the model. The results show that the model can support knowledge-based development in peri-urban areas with high levels of population density while ensuring good accessibility to green spaces and productive landscapes. The model can serve as a planning and design tool and support the development of public policies for other contexts committed to more resilient and sustainable development. Full article
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Article
Municipal Practices for Integrated Planning of Nature-Based Solutions in Urban Development in the Stockholm Region
Sustainability 2021, 13(18), 10389; https://doi.org/10.3390/su131810389 - 17 Sep 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1073
Abstract
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, [...] Read more.
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. Full article
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Article
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(17), 9672; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13179672 - 27 Aug 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1939
Abstract
Nature-based solutions (NBS) are currently being deployed in many European Commission Horizon 2020 projects in reaction to the increasing number of environmental threats, such as climate change, unsustainable urbanization, degradation and loss of natural capital and ecosystem services. In this research, we consider [...] Read more.
Nature-based solutions (NBS) are currently being deployed in many European Commission Horizon 2020 projects in reaction to the increasing number of environmental threats, such as climate change, unsustainable urbanization, degradation and loss of natural capital and ecosystem services. In this research, we consider the application of NBS as a catalyst for social inclusivity in urban regeneration strategies, enabled through civic participation in the co-creation of green interventions with respect to social cohesion and wellbeing. This article is focused on a social monitoring framework elaborated within the H2020 CLEVER Cities project, with the city of Milan as a case study. Firstly, we overviewed the major regeneration challenges and expected co-benefits of the project, which are mainly human health and wellbeing, social cohesion and environmental justice, as well as citizen perception about safety and security related to the NBS implementation process. Secondly, we examined the relevance of using NBS in addressing social co-benefits by analyzing data from questionnaires against a set of five major indicators, submitted to citizens and participants of activities during pre-greening interventions: (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, we analyzed (5) knowledge about CLEVER interventions and NBS benefits in relation to socio-demographics of the questionnaires’ respondents. Thirdly, we cross-referenced a wind-rose multi-model of co-benefits analysis for NBS across the regeneration challenges of the project. Because of the COVID-19 emergency, in this research we mainly focused on site observations and online questionnaires, as well as on monitoring pre-greening scenarios in three Urban Living Labs (ULLs) in Milan, namely CLEVER Action Labs. Lastly, this study emphasizes the expected social added values of NBS impact over long-term urban regeneration projects. Insights from the pre-greening surveys results accentuate the importance of the NBS interventions in citizens’ perceptions about their wellbeing, general health and strong sense of neighborhood belonging. A wider interest towards civic participation in co-management and getting informed about NBS interventions in the Milanese context is also noted. Full article
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Article
Multi-Level Perspective on Sustainability Transition towards Nature-Based Solutions and Co-Creation in Urban Planning of Belgrade, Serbia
Sustainability 2021, 13(14), 7576; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13147576 - 07 Jul 2021
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 1820
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
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Article
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
Sustainability 2021, 13(13), 7466; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13137466 - 04 Jul 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1352
Abstract
Implementing nature-based solutions (NBSs) in cities, such as urban forests, can have multiple effects on the quality of life of inhabitants, acting on the mitigation of climate change, and in some cases also enhancing citizens’ social life and the transformation of customer patterns [...] Read more.
Implementing nature-based solutions (NBSs) in cities, such as urban forests, can have multiple effects on the quality of life of inhabitants, acting on the mitigation of climate change, and in some cases also enhancing citizens’ social life and the transformation of customer patterns in commercial activities. Assessing this latter effect is the aim of this paper. An agent-based model (ABM) was used to assess change in commercial activities by small and midsize companies in retail due to the development of parks. The paper focuses on the potential capacity of NBS green spaces to boost retail companies’ business volumes, thus increasing their revenues, and at the same time create a pleasant feeling of space usability for the population. The type of NBS is not specified but generalized into large green spaces. The simulation contains two types of agents: (1) residents and (2) shop owners. Factors that attract new retail shops to be established in an area are simplified, based on attractor points, which identify areas such as large green spaces within and around which shops can form. The simulations provided insights on the number of retail shops that can be sustained based on the purchasing behavior of citizens that walk in parks. Four European cities were explored: Szeged (Hungary), Alcalá de Henares (Spain), Çankaya Municipality (Turkey) and Milan (Italy). The model allowed analyzing the indirect economic benefit of NBSs (i.e., large green spaces in this case) on a neighborhood’s economic structure. More precisely, the presence of green parks in the model boosted the visits of customers to local small shops located within and around them, such as cafés and kiosks, allowing for the emergence of 5–6 retail shops (on average, for about 800 walking citizens) in the case of Szeged and an average 12–14 retail shops for a simulated population of 2900 persons that walk in parks in the case of Milan. Overall, results from this modeling exercise can be considered representative for large urban green areas usually visited by a substantial number of citizens. However, their pertinence to support for local policies for NBS implementation and other decision-making related activities of socioeconomic nature is hampered by the low representativeness of source data used for the simulations. Full article
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Article
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)
Sustainability 2021, 13(11), 6124; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13116124 - 28 May 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1441
Abstract
Growing and uncontrolled urbanization and climate change (with an associated increase in the frequency of intense meteoric events) have led to a rising number of flooding events in urban areas due to the insufficient capacity of conventional drainage systems. Nature-Based Solutions represent a [...] Read more.
Growing and uncontrolled urbanization and climate change (with an associated increase in the frequency of intense meteoric events) have led to a rising number of flooding events in urban areas due to the insufficient capacity of conventional drainage systems. Nature-Based Solutions represent a contribution to addressing these problems through the creation of a multifunctional green infrastructure, both in urban areas and in the countryside. The aim of this work was to develop a methodology to define Green Infrastructure for stormwater management at the municipal level. The methodology is defined on the basis of three phases: the definition of the territorial information needed, the production of base maps, and the production of a Suitability Map. In the first phase, we define the information needed for the identification of non-urbanized areas where rainwater can potentially infiltrate, as well as areas with soil characteristics that can exclude or limit rainwater infiltration. In the second phase, we constructed the following base maps: a “map of green areas”, a “map of natural surface infiltration potential” and a “map of exclusion areas”. In phase 3, starting from the base maps created in phase 2 and using Geographical Information Systems’ (GIS) geoprocessing procedures, the “Green area compatibility map to realize Green Infrastructure”, the “map of areas not suitable for infiltration” and the final “Green Infrastructure Suitability Map” are created. This methodology should help municipal authorities to set up Green Infrastructure Suitability Maps as a tool for land-use planning. Full article
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Article
Parque Augusta (São Paulo/Brazil): From the Struggles of a Social Movement to Its Appropriation in the Real Estate Market and the Right to Nature in the City
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 5150; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13095150 - 05 May 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 988
Abstract
Through a dialectical approach, building a thesis, an antithesis and a synthesis, our goal in this article is to discuss the implementation of the Parque Augusta, in the center of São Paulo, Brazil. For years, an organized social movement struggled with the municipality [...] Read more.
Through a dialectical approach, building a thesis, an antithesis and a synthesis, our goal in this article is to discuss the implementation of the Parque Augusta, in the center of São Paulo, Brazil. For years, an organized social movement struggled with the municipality and real estate developers for the protection of the park and its green area. The demanded and desired park, collectively designed and managed, physically structured on the principles of the nature-based solutions (NBS), should represent a victory. However, in a capitalist urban space, the future park has already been appropriated in the real estate market to enhance development values and to increase the density of its environs with the construction of new skyscrapers. In a city tagging its climate actions using NBS concepts, the project in implementation by the municipality has fewer NBS elements than the co-designed with citizens participation. Here we present the narratives of the park creation and some indicators about its appropriation, based on land use and real estate market prices. The theoretical critical perspective was fundamental to reveal the contradictions within the park construction, called attention to the consideration of the surrounding area in greening projects and promoted a synthesis towards the universalization of the right to nature in the city. Full article
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Article
Evaluating the Relationship between Park Features and Ecotherapeutic Environment: A Comparative Study of Two Parks in Istanbul, Beylikdüzü
Sustainability 2021, 13(9), 4600; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13094600 - 21 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 899
Abstract
The impacts of problems related to dense, unplanned, and irregular urbanization on the natural environment, urban areas, and humankind have been discussed in many disciplines for decades. Because of the circular relationship between humans and their environment, human health and psychology have become [...] Read more.
The impacts of problems related to dense, unplanned, and irregular urbanization on the natural environment, urban areas, and humankind have been discussed in many disciplines for decades. Because of the circular relationship between humans and their environment, human health and psychology have become both agents and patients in interactions with nature. The field of ecopsychology investigates within this reciprocal context the relationship between human psychology and ecological issues and the roles of human psychology and society in environmental problems based on deteriorated nature–human relationships in urbanized areas. This approach has given rise to ecotherapy, which takes a systemic approach to repairing this disturbed nature–human relationship. This study aims to uncover the relationship between the physical attributes of urban green areas and their potential for providing ecotherapy service to users, first by determining the characteristics of ecotherapeutic urban space and urban green areas given in studies in the ecopsychology and ecotherapy literature, and then by conducting a case study in two urban parks from the Beylikdüzü District of the Istanbul Metropolitan Area. The impacts of these parks’ changing physical characteristics on user experiences are determined through a comparison of their physical attributes and the user experiences related to their ecotherapy services. Full article
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Article
Exploring Challenges and Opportunities of Biophilic Urban Design: Evidence from Research and Experimentation
Sustainability 2021, 13(8), 4323; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13084323 - 13 Apr 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 2423
Abstract
Global health emergencies such as Covid-19 have highlighted the importance of access to nature and open spaces in our cities for social, physical, and mental health. However, there continues to be a disconnect between our need for nature and our daily lived experience. [...] Read more.
Global health emergencies such as Covid-19 have highlighted the importance of access to nature and open spaces in our cities for social, physical, and mental health. However, there continues to be a disconnect between our need for nature and our daily lived experience. Recent research indicates that our connectedness and relationship with nature, and in particular biophilic design, may be key for improving both health and quality of life. Rather than relying on abstract universal ideas of “nature”, using evidence-based biophilic design and policy at a building, neighborhood, and city scale, to link our daily lives with biodiversity, may encourage sense of place and make environmental action more meaningful. Then, improving our natural capital in the urban built environment might help address the current climate and disease crisis, as well as improving our physical and mental health. Drawing from emerging research and innovative practice, the paper describes key research and design paradigms that influence the way we understand the benefits of nature for different environments, including the workplace, neighborhood, and city, and explains where biophilic design theory sits in this field. Examples from recent research carried out in London and Chicago are provided, aiming at demonstrating what kind of research can be functional to what context, followed by a detailed analysis of its application supporting both human and ecological health. The study concludes indicating key policy and design lessons learned around regenerative design and biophilia as well as new directions for action, particularly with regard to climate change, sense of place, and well-being. Full article
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Article
Valuing the Invaluable(?)—A Framework to Facilitate Stakeholder Engagement in the Planning of Nature-Based Solutions
Sustainability 2021, 13(5), 2657; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052657 - 02 Mar 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1518
Abstract
Nature-based solutions (NBS) have emerged as an important concept to build climate resilience in cities whilst providing a wide range of ecological, economic, and social co-benefits. With the ambition of increasing NBS uptake, diverse actors have been developing means to demonstrate and prove [...] Read more.
Nature-based solutions (NBS) have emerged as an important concept to build climate resilience in cities whilst providing a wide range of ecological, economic, and social co-benefits. With the ambition of increasing NBS uptake, diverse actors have been developing means to demonstrate and prove these benefits. However, the multifunctionality, the different types of benefits provided, and the context-specificity make it difficult to capture and communicate their overall value. In this paper, a value-based framework is presented that allows for structured navigation through these issues with the goal of identifying key values and engaging beneficiaries from the public, private, and civil society sector 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 its applicability in urban planning. Results suggest that more specialized “hard facts” might be needed to actually attract larger investments of specific actors. However, the softer and more holistic approach could inspire and support the forming of alliances amongst a wider range of urban stakeholders and the prioritization of specific benefits for further assessment. Consequently, it is argued that both hard and soft approaches to nature valuation will be necessary to further promote and drive the uptake of NBS in cities. Full article
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Article
Stakeholder Participation in the Planning and Design of Nature-Based Solutions. Insights from CLEVER Cities Project in Hamburg
Sustainability 2021, 13(5), 2572; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13052572 - 27 Feb 2021
Cited by 7 | Viewed by 1480
Abstract
Cities are essential players in responding to the present complex environmental and social challenges, such as climate change. The nature-based solution (NbS) concept is identified in the scientific discourse and further recognized by the European Commission as a part of the solution to [...] Read more.
Cities are essential players in responding to the present complex environmental and social challenges, such as climate change. The nature-based solution (NbS) concept is identified in the scientific discourse and further recognized by the European Commission as a part of the solution to address such challenges. Deploying NbS in urban contexts requires the cooperation of different public and private stakeholders to manage those processes. In this paper, the experiences of establishing and managing NbS-related processes following a co-creation approach in the city of Hamburg within the framework of an EU-funded research project (CLEVER Cities) are described and analyzed. The paper identifies and discusses the main emerging factors and challenges from (1) a procedural and methodological perspective and (2) concerning the different roles of the diverse stakeholders involved. This discussion is grounded in the context of existing regulations and novel concepts for citizens’ participation in urban decision-making processes. As research results, the article defines the leading players involved in the process and their roles and interrelationships, along with recommendations for future policy agendas in cities when dealing with NbS planning. Full article
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Article
From Nature-Based to Nature-Driven: Landscape First for the Design of Moeder Zernike in Groningen
Sustainability 2021, 13(4), 2368; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13042368 - 22 Feb 2021
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 1242
Abstract
Global climate change impacts the future of urbanism. The future is increasingly uncertain, and current responses in urban planning practice are often human-centered. In general, this is a way to respond to change that is oriented towards improving the life of people in [...] Read more.
Global climate change impacts the future of urbanism. The future is increasingly uncertain, and current responses in urban planning practice are often human-centered. In general, this is a way to respond to change that is oriented towards improving the life of people in the short term, often extracting resources from the environment at dangerous levels. This impacts the entire ecological system, and turns out to be negative for biodiversity, resilience, and, ultimately, human life as well. Adaptation to climatic impacts requires a long-term perspective based in the understanding of nature. The objective of the presented research is to find explorative ways to respond to the unknown unknowns through designing and planning holistically for the Zernike campus in Groningen, the Netherlands. The methods used in this study comprise co-creative design-led approaches which are capable of integrating sectoral problems into a visionary future plan. The research findings show 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. This study responds to questions of food safety, and growing conditions, of which the water availability is the most pressing. Considering the spatial concept, this has led to the necessity to establish a novel water connection between the site and the sea. Full article
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Review

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Review
Green(er) Cities and Their Citizens: Insights from the Participatory Budget of Lisbon
Sustainability 2021, 13(15), 8243; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13158243 - 23 Jul 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1087
Abstract
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
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