Green-Blue Space Governance

Urban green-blue spaces, such as parks, waterways, wetlands, street trees, gardens and nature reserves are essential elements of resilient and liveable cities. As well as being aesthetically pleasing, green-blue spaces provide many functions and benefits for people and the other species that call our cities home. They cool our cities, treat air and water, provide space for recreation and connection, and habitat for biodiversity.

There are many different types of green-blue spaces in cities – and many different models for their governance, planning and management. Research by the Clean Air and Urban Landscapes (CAUL) Hub has investigated new approaches to governance and policies to support the creation and retention of healthy, multifunctional green-blue spaces. The following factsheets provide an overview and definitions of ‘governance’, and how governance and policy for green-blue spaces can contribute to retaining and maximising resilient nature in cities.

Nature-based solutions for resilient cities: Cities are facing increasing environmental, social and economic challenges that together threaten the resilience of urban areas and the residents who live and work there. Urban challenges include both chronic stresses and acute shocks, and these are amplified by climate change. The ability of cities, their inhabitants, their systems and structures to withstand these depends on their resilience: their ability to adjust and adapt in the face of change.

Multifunctional urban green-blue spaces: Policy domains: Because green-blue spaces are multifunctional, providing a range of nature-based solutions, there are multiple policy domains associated with their planning and management. Effective planning and management of green-blue spaces requires communication, coordination and integration across these policy domains, government departments and community organisations.

Planning and managing urban nature-based solutions: Governance perspectives: Governance – encompassing the actors (within and beyond governments), their roles and responsibilities, the decision-making and implementation processes involved in ongoing planning and management – is an important element of establishing and maintaining resilient and healthy urban green-blue spaces. Effective governance structures and processes link and coordinate participants, organisations, resources and expertise across different jurisdictions, levels of government and with non-government actors.

Implementing urban nature-based solutions: Policy success factors: Public policies contribute to creating, retaining and maximising urban green-blue spaces and nature-based solutions. While the ingredients for successful policy-making differ across jurisdictions, there are a number of common factors that contribute to the successful adoption and implementation of greening policies.

Urban nature-based solutions: Adaptive governance and monitoring: As urban ecosystems develop and adapt to changing environments, an adaptive governance approach can underpin a flexible and responsive framework for ongoing green-blue space management. Adaptive governance is supported by effective monitoring, involving ongoing collection of data on selected indicators that can reveal changing site conditions and shifts in ecosystem function, form and composition.

Urban nature-based solutions: Sense of place and stewardship: The green-blue spaces in cities are important in creating and defining the ‘sense of place’: the local character and personality of place. Indigenous people’s custodianship of Country brings deep knowledge and understanding to this sense of place. As people’s connections with local urban nature strengthen, there are opportunities for nature stewardship through involvement in on-ground activities, citizen science, and protecting and caring for the biodiversity, plants and animals in local patches of nature, gardens and streets.