Participation sounding board group, Leiden, The Netherlands © Gemeente Leiden

The realization of green-blue solutions requires cooperation that is still far from self-evident. For example, pulling apart urban design and urban management on the one hand, and dividing public services into sectors with their own cash flows such as green, waste, traffic, energy, housing, businesses, and so on on the other, have made cooperation and finding integrated sustainable solutions a challenge even within municipalities. In addition to the municipality, there are furthermore other organizations and private stakeholders that need to be involved, such as: water boards, NGOs, developers, housing associations, private homeowners and businesses in order to include local interests and arrive at supported solutions.

Organizing this collaboration is the key and a prerequisite for finding new integral sustainable solutions for a climate-resilient, nature-inclusive, healthy and attractive cities.

Below, insights and experiences have been collected in the area of involving the various stakeholders in climate adaptation in urban space. Methods have been collected to inform, activate and guide stakeholders to better cooperation. Some examples show how this has been approached.

What makes projects fail to succeed?

Many projects that start with good intentions regarding sustainability and climate adaptation do not achieve their goals. Causes are:

  • Ambitions and plans are often too distant from the stakeholders because they are not developed in unison and do not take sufficient account of the different interests in the area or neighborhood.
  • There often is insufficient administrative will for sustainable development.
  • When there are conflicting interests, there is a quick relapse into traditional roles and a tendency toward a sectoral approach.
  • Collaborative structures of the involved parties do not work sufficiently to realize high ambitions.
  • There is insufficient integration within the current sectoral division of services within and between water authorities and the various municipal services. The resulting funding flows are complex.
  • In the absence of a clear, widely supported strategy and area vision, separation of main and side issues is difficult because there is no clear focus.
  • Calculating the added values and synergy of integral sustainable measures is difficult.
  • Separation of thinking and calculating development versus management and maintenance leads to impractical choices.

These failure factors can largely be overcome by starting at the beginning of an area development with a workshop in which all stakeholders participate, in which the ambitions and goals are jointly formulated and all risks and objections are put on the table.

In order to maintain the ambitions and goals during the process, it will be necessary to organize regular review meetings with the various stakeholders. After all, a project goes through several stages from initiative to realization and management, and each time new insights, positive and negative, and new challenges will arise making it necessary to find common solutions and maintain a broad support base.