Transformative or piecemeal? Changes in green space planning and governance in eleven European cities

Rieke Hansen*, Marleen Buizer, Arjen Buijs, Stephan Pauleit, Thomas Mattijssen, Hanna Fors, Alexander van der Jagt, Nadja Kabisch, Mandy Cook, Tim Delshammar, Thomas B. Randrup, Sabrina Erlwein, Kati Vierikko, Hanna Nieminen, Johannes Langemeyer, Camille Soson Texereau, Ana Catarina Luz, Mojca Nastran, Anton Stahl Olafsson, Maja Steen MøllerDagmar Haase, Werner Rolf, Bianca Ambrose-Oji, Cristina Branquinho, Gilles Havik, Jakub Kronenberg, Cecil Konijnendijk

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
41 Downloads (Pure)


Green (and blue) spaces receive attention as important components of cities that can help to mitigate the effects of climate change, support biodiversity and improve public health. Green space planning aims to transform cities towards urban sustainability and resilience. In a longitudinal study, representatives from eleven European municipalities that had previously been interviewed in 2014 were re-interviewed in 2020–2021 on changes in urban greening and related practices. The interviewees reported mainly advancements in dealing with ecological issues, such as new plans, strategies, regulations or funding programmes for climate adaptation or biodiversity support, as well as some progress in co-governance with non-governmental stakeholders. Promising developments include breaking professional silos by creating new units that can better deal with complex urban issues. In a few cases, high-level local politicians induced profound changes. These changes stimulated the development of new planning and governance cultures, resulting in more co-creation of urban green spaces. However, from a transformation studies perspective, incremental strategies dominate, and even when municipal representatives are aware that substantive changes are needed, they often lack the means to act. For more radical system change, significant extra efforts are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2401-2424
Number of pages24
JournalEuropean Planning Studies
Issue number12
Early online date11 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2023


  • climate change
  • Co-governance
  • green infrastructure
  • participation
  • sustainability transformations

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development


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