Lost in implementation? A field study of the uptake of the ‘green infrastructure’ term and concept in urban policies

Michael Leone, Ieva Misiune, Luis Valença Pinto, Julia Palliwoda, Raïsa Carmen, Sander Jacobs, Joerg A. Priess

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review


With growing urban populations and increasing demands for more liveable, healthy and resilient cities, green infrastructure (GI) emerged over the last decade as a strategy to improve the quality of life in urban areas, delivering ecological, socio-cultural and economic benefits. To reach the European Union’s political ambitions, it is vital that the concept and its content are used consistently and coherently from national to local scale. Regarding the content, the ambiguity of the multifunctionality characteristic of GI presents an opportunity for adaptation to local values, while also risking to remain a vague and abstract promise. A policy analysis was conducted in four European cities to investigate the uptake of the GI concept in policies relevant for urban green spaces and if it is in line with EU’s understanding. Additionally, we investigate through interviews how interactions between agencies contribute to the mainstreaming of the concept to the municipal level. We found variations in uptake level and interpretation, which can partly be explained by the competition of new and established concepts, and existing structures (legislation and routines of practice). Each case study made multifunctionality concrete by linking multiple values to it, although the amount of values and depth of consideration differs. We found interactions between policymakers themselves, as well with science and civil society, contributing to the mainstreaming of the concept.
Original languageEnglish
Article number 2220831
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 14-Jun-2023

Thematic List 2020

  • Nature & society

Thematic list

  • Policy
  • Society
  • Ecosystem services
  • (Peri-)urban areas
  • Urban areas

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