Green wedges as urban commons: Applying a complex social-ecological system approach to sustainable urban planning

The overall aim of this project is to explore how institutional insights on common property (pool) resource management systems combined with novel approaches for urban spatial planning can contribute to more sustainable urban development that better account for the complex, reciprocal relationship between urban and ecological systems.

Through a complexity theory lens, and based on case study-oriented research in the city-regions of Stockholm and Melbourne, the project will explore how institutional capacity for building resilience of urban ecosystem services can become an integrated part of urban planning and metropolitan designs. That would serve to help reconnect urban residents to nature, and fulfilling the pedagogic responsibility cities hold in combating environmental amnesia among city-residents. This is important in order to tackle the rapid loss of the world’s ecosystem services and to promote public acceptance for measures to combat climate change.

With a focus on the green-wedge systems in the two city-regions, the project will address the following questions:

  1.  How can application of the concept of ecosystem services enable spatial planning and governance to better account for the reciprocal relationship between human and ecological systems in green wedges.
  2. How can institutional capacity building related to common property resources inform sustainable development of green wedges?
  3. What overall lessons for sustainable urban development can be drawn from these insights?
This three year project (2009-2011 is funded by the Swedish Research Council for Environment (FORMAS).