University of Twente Student Theses


Governance of nature-based solutions for societal challenges : lessons from Utrecht and Leipzig to reinforce implementation

Qazizada, M.R. (2022) Governance of nature-based solutions for societal challenges : lessons from Utrecht and Leipzig to reinforce implementation.

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Abstract:Nature-based solutions (NbS) can be crucial in increasing resilience against climate change while addressing urban challenges. Coherence in policies and actions between multilevel and multi-sectoral governance are needed to drive NbS for climate change adaptation at the city (municipality) level. This thesis has two objectives: 1) to explore how NbS entered the agenda at various levels from the EU to the city level; 2) to improve the understanding on the implementation of NbS across levels, and within urban planning and decision-making, contributing to climate change adaptation. In this thesis, I compared four cases from two European cities (Utrecht and Leipzig), each with a different governance system and multiple NbS initiatives. I used multilevel governance (MLG) and agency theories to develop a framework for examining NbS absorption at different levels. Furthermore, I applied the NbS concept to develop pre-selected lenses on success and failure factors for adopting and strengthening the implementation of NbS. I have reviewed fifty policy documents at multiple levels, including EU-level, country-level, and local levels, and 13 interviews with relevant actors and experts took place. The results indicate that municipalities are the main agency behind NbS projects. Additionally, environmental NGOs and universities seem to support the promotion of NbS. The agency for NbS within municipalities is affected by multiple factors, such as city council decisions, political party influence, and central policies. A review of the relevant policies at the EU level revealed that the NbS concept had been explicitly considered in 86% of the policy documents, which is 84% in the Netherlands, and 81% in Germany. However, there has also been implicit use of NbS in policies. Climate resilience, water management, biodiversity, and health are among the significant responsibilities expected from the NbS in these two cities. Furthermore, the results show that the three most critical factors for the successful adoption of NbS in these two cities were citizen engagement (physically and financially), increased collaboration among actors across levels and sectors, and an effective mechanism for disseminating information. At the same time, the primary factor of failure for NbS absorption at the city level consisted of less awareness of citizens regarding the cost and benefits of the NbS, poor engagement of actors and citizens, bureaucracy and poor communication of information, and limited subsidies. This thesis suggests four paths forward to reinforce the implementation of NbS at the city level: (1) from a policy perspective, further integration of NbS approaches into national and decentralized policies (NbS proofing of the policy documents). (2) From a knowledge and information perspective, building citizens' awareness and sharing information. (3) From a governance perspective, strengthening engagement of stakeholders (public and private), and (4) from an economics perspective, recognizing the value of municipal subsidies and finance as a critical factor for mainstreaming NbS. Due to scope and time limitations, this thesis also suggests in-depth research on the four pathways discussed to institutionalize fully and absorb NbS locally.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:85 business administration, organizational science
Programme:Environmental and Energy Management MSc (69319)
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