Assessing deeper levels of participation in nature-based solutions in urban landscapes: A literature review of real-world cases

Nikolett Puskás, Yaser Abunnasr*, Salpy Naalbandian

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


It is evident that climate change and unanticipated natural events pose new challenges for humanity and the environment. Already over half of the global population resides in cities, making the urban landscape a crucial focus area. Nature-based solutions (NbS) are an opportunity to address both environmental and societal challenges in both the immediate and long term, bearing particular importance in urban landscapes, as these pose more challenges and more opportunities for greater impact simultaneously. For the successful, widespread and sustainable implementation of NbS, wider inclusion of people and employment of deeper levels of participation are crucial. This review paper aimed to examine the relationship between participation and its various applications to NbS from global literature, and more specifically, assessing the levels of participation. We used Arnstein's (Arnstein, 1969) ladder of participation to base our analysis against five essential criteria for participatory implementation. Our results demonstrate that ‘consultation’ and ‘partnership’ are the dominant levels of participation, while there is evidence supporting the adoption of deeper levels such as delegated power and citizen control. Our study argues that the role of landscape architects and urban planners should go beyond the role of experts towards facilitators and motivators, to enable wider and deeper participation of communities in defining their futures. The study contributes to the field by highlighting the potential and importance of participatory approaches, providing insights into a range of tools used to facilitate participation at various depths and offering practical and employable knowledge of application. We conclude by suggesting future pathways for empirical research.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104065
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Civic ecology
  • Environmental Stewardship
  • Green infrastrcuture
  • Nature-based solutions
  • Participation
  • Urban landscapes


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