Negotiating Green Space Development: Balancing Long-Term Sustainability and Short-Term Social Needs

From Urban Arena Wiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search

This scenario has been developed on the basis of a real world case.

Barcelona park picture.jpg

Imagine your city where a natural park provides both biodiversity protection and green space for locals to counter rapid urbanization and increasing density.

How might this become a reality?

To address the potential threats of decreasing green spaces and biodiversity loss, municipalities and local and regional governments may come together to actively take measures for the protection of urban ecosystems. These ecosystems could be demarcated and managed for their best use, both for long-term sustainability by protecting the ecosystem and its species, and for immediate social needs (i.e. recreation and health) of the local people (Q10).

What potential policies and laws can support the cause?

The formation of a natural park in a highly dense city can be shaped and supported by some national and EU policies e.g. NATURA 2000 (Q18). It can be further upheld by the constitutional rights of citizens (to a healthy environment) and the responsibilities of governments at multiple scales to provide those services for the citizens (Q19).

How critical is balancing the interests of diverse stakeholders engaged in project management?

For the successful implementation of the intervention, the formation of a governance body comprised of multi-level government agencies and scientific, advisory, and consultative groups (engaging the members of civil society, research institutes, NGOs, and academia) would be crucial (Q9). Yet, striking a balance between different stakeholder visions for the park, particularly, biodiversity protection (for next generations/long term outcome) and social benefits (recreation and green space for present generation) could be a great challenge. It is possible that one vision overshadows the other due to exclusion of some actors at various stages of the park’s management planning process. As in many cases, park managers or other main stakeholders may avoid local citizens’ participation, fearing further complexity of the planning process. However, to avoid exclusion and to promote legitimacy and equality, effective, non-tokenistic participation of all stakeholders during all stages of the park’s management planning should be ensured (Q23).

What methods can ensure effective and productive stakeholders engagement throughout the process?

The park management team may maintain continuous communication about the park’s affairs by holding meetings and workshops, ensuring that the content is comprehensible for all stakeholders. For better decision-making, park authorities can create a network for learning and knowledge exchange between parks within and across regions/urban contexts. Further, learning and knowledge exchange across parks in Europe may help to overcome challenges and adopt more inclusive planning methods to achieve long-term sustainability and short-term social justice goals (Q25).

How could this reality be created in your city? What obstacles would have to be overcome?

Do you want to learn more about this scenario?

The scenario is based on a Peri-urban Natural Park of Collserola (Serra de Collserola Natural Park) in Barcelona. Barcelona is a highly populated and dense city with relatively few available green spaces. The intervention aims to protect Barcelona's fragile Peri-Urban ecosystems for both social and ecological functions while preserving biodiversity and providing ecosystem services to nearby residents. Specifically, the challenge being addressed here is maintaining a balance between the use of the park for short-term social needs such as recreation and long-term sustainability needs such as biodiversity protection. If you are interested in how obstacles have been overcome in this case, see Q24. To learn more, check out their website ( and a study conducted by Naturvation (

This scenario relates to an enabling governance arrangement:

  • 3) Build bridges between separate stakeholder groups: Constant coordination and collaboration between municipalities and regional bodies including scientific and consultative committees were very important to the success of the Collserola Natural Park - for instance, in overcoming differences in interests of biodiversity protection vs. recreational activities.

This scenario fits under the approach:

It addresses some drivers of injustice:

What do you think about this scenario? Was it helpful to you? Do you find our approach problematic? Send us an email to Philipp Spaeth.