Co-design processes to address Nature-Based Solutions and Ecosystem Services demands: the long and winding road towards inclusive urban planning

Resource type: 
EU project stamp: 
Main entity: 
Ecological and Forestry Applications Research Centre (CREAF)
Type of entity: 
Research centre/University
EU Horizon 2020
Key themes: 
Climate change
Societal challenges: 
Biodiversity Enhancement
Climate Resilience
New Economic Opportunities & Green Jobs and Participatory Planning and Governance
Social Capacity Building for Sustainable Urban Transformation
Social Justice and Social Cohesion

The benefits and impacts that nature-based solutions (NbS) provide on the relationships between people and nature are widely recognized (Raymond et al. 2017). The NbS concept advocates the inclusion of a broad range of relevant actors in decision making (Pauleit et al. 2017), and co-design strategies are powerful approaches to include stakeholders and individual citizens on the same footing as professional actors (researchers, planners, politicians, decision makers, experts, institutional stakeholders). Co-design is a creative approach that enables bringing together real life experiences, views and skills of many different perspectives to address a specific problem (Szebeko and Tan 2010). Co-design has considerable potential for jointly defining the challenges to be dealt with and the objectives for the solutions. Co-design supports jointly conceptualising and delivering NbS when planning green infrastructure networks in urban environments (Karrasch et al. 2017). However, important gaps in knowledge, practice and planning remain when it comes to co-design in relation to NbS, green infrastructure and ‘green’ governance.
We argue that co-design can help planners and policy makers to design green infrastructure which addresses not only ecological priorities, but also incorporates user demands and needs. Moreover, we believe that co-design supports planners and policy makers to better mainstream NbS into urban planning (Kabisch et al. 2016). Limitations exist, but we feel that co-design has great potential for cities committed to transformative change based on a ‘green’ and ‘sustainable’ agenda. In the following, we will further elaborate on these arguments.