SUPER - Sustainable Urban Planning for Ecosystem services and Resilience

The aim of the SUPER project is to develop knowledge on how urban spatial planning processes can better integrate ecosystem services so as to nurture urban resilience. It strives to lay a foundation for innovations in urban planning and governance. Innovations are needed to enable cities to navigate change, build local capacity to respond to disturbance and to prepare for uncertainty, in that way enabling transitions to sustainable urban trajectories.

We aim to deliver  knowledge of value for practitioners in each city, as well as for scholars in the fields of urban resilience, governance and sustainability. The project’s scientific relevance lies in generating both theoretical  and practice innovations of immediate concern to urban residents, policy makers and urban planners.

Click here to see a short video about the SUPER-project

The project is funded through grants by the Swedish Research Council for Environment (FORMAS) within the URBAN-NET programme, which addresses issues of urban sustainability in Europe. URBAN-NET is funded by the European Commission’s Framework 6 Programme under the European Research Area Network (ERA-NET) initiative.
SUPER Research Consortium

The consortium comprise of scholars and practitioners in systems ecology and spatial planning from three European cities. The Beijer Institute and the Stockholm Resilience Centre in Sweden, the Istanbul Technical University in Turkey, the Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and researchers associated with the Centre for African studies at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.

Sweden: Johan Colding (project leader), Stephan Barthel and Henrik Ernstson

Turkey: Azime Tezer, Ilke Aksehirli, Nuket Ipek Cetin and Ayse Qzyetgin

The Netherlands: Wim van der Knaap and Robert Snep


Research questions

Research is organized around seven subprojects of which three represents “vertical” in-depth studies, and four represents “horizontal” and integrating cross-city comparison projects. The subprojects are framed by four overarching research questions that will guide choice of methods and analyses:

  1. What can resilience theory contribute to urban spatial planning processes?
  2. How might a transdisciplinary approach of spatial planning and governance based on ecosystem services contribute to the emergence of resilient urban landscapes?
  3. What are the critical barriers for integrating ecosystem services in spatial planning practices and how can they be bridged?
  4. In relation to the previous questions: what “spatial-institutional designs” for integrating ecosystem services exist, or can be developed?

Since project inception in January 2009,  several publications and projects have been developed, including MSc projects. A film project related to “Urban Commons” is being planned, entitled “Stockholm-Berlin”, dealing with how ecosystem services are managed in cities through different types of common property resource management.