Co-creating urban green infrastructure connecting people and nature: A guiding framework and approach

Alexander P.N. van der Jagt*, Mike Smith, Bianca Ambrose-Oji, Cecil C. Konijnendijk, Vincenzo Giannico, Dagmar Haase, Raffaele Lafortezza, Mojca Nastran, Marina Pintar, Špela Železnikar, Rozalija Cvejić

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Urban green infrastructure (UGI) and nature-based solutions are increasingly recognized as instruments to address urban sustainability challenges, yet rely on a good understanding of complex social-ecological system (SES) to function adequately. Adaptive co-management (ACM), engaging a broad variety of stakeholders in collaborative learning, is an effective strategy to improve the resilience of a SES. However, ACM studies have been criticized for neglecting the urban context, while also offering little clarity on process objectives and outcomes. To address these knowledge gaps, while also drawing attention to the important issue of socially inclusive UGI development, we present a guiding framework and approach to encourage the ACM of UGI featuring two main components. Firstly, a Learning Alliance (LA) serves as an instrument for collaborative learning and experimentation across different scales. To facilitate upscaling, we propose to establish a complementary Urban Learning Lab (ULL) to facilitate a regular exchange between the LA and legitimate peripheral networks and stakeholders in the city region. Secondly, a stepwise approach to SES analysis serves to engage a representative group of stakeholders in the LAs and ULLs, and support the processes of setting LA objectives and monitoring of adaptive capacity. We illustrate our approach to the ACM of UGI with a case study of LivadaLAB in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Applying the framework and approach, we demonstrate increased adaptive capacity of the SES around UGI as indicated by: 1) improved overall stakeholder salience, in particular for previously disempowered actor groups, 2) increased number and strength of connections between stakeholders, and 3) the consideration of a broader range of sustainable development objectives by stakeholders in their daily practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)757-767
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Adaptive co-management
  • Resilience
  • Social-ecological systems
  • Stakeholder participation
  • Urban green infrastructure
  • Urban laboratories


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