From Vision to Action- Advancing green qualities in local planning practice
Time: Fri 2020-09-25 14.00
Subject area: Land and Water Resources Engineering
Doctoral student: Sara Khoshkar , Hållbar utveckling, miljövetenskap och teknik, Environmental management and assessment research group
Opponent: Associate Professor Fabiano Lemes de Oliveira, Polytechnic University of Milan
Supervisor: Professor Berit Balfors, Hållbar utveckling, miljövetenskap och teknik; Docent Monica Hammer, Södertörn University; Docent Sara Borgström, Hållbar utveckling, miljövetenskap och teknik
Biodiversity and ecosystem services have been negatively affected as a result of urbanization. Agenda 2030 emphasizes that biodiversity and ecosystem services issues are important for all Sustainable Development Goals and that measures are needed to reverse the negative trend. In addition, it has been emphasized that local spatial planning plays a key role in meeting global challenges and achieving national and international sustainability goals. The decisions made about land use issues in local planning are of great importance for biodiversity and the availability of ecosystem services in cities. However, despite the increasing knowledge of the importance of ecosystem services, their integration in land use planning and decision-making is still limited. Furthermore, the planning instrument, Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) holds an important role in ensuring that ecosystem services are taken into account in planning and related decision-making processes. However, experiences of integrating ecosystem services in SEAs is limited. The overall aim of this thesis, comprising of five papers, is to contribute with knowledge regarding and support to local planning practice for the implementation of ecosystem services in planning and decision-making. The methods applied include: literature review, semi-structured interviews, focus group, workshops and qualitative content analysis supported with statistical analysis. In the first phase of the thesis, the studies set out to identify the challenges and needs for integrating ecosystem services in local planning practice. The results are based on a case study design of a selection of municipalities in Stockholm County. A key finding from the interviews with practitioners in the first phase was that green quality issues need to be integrated in strategic levels of planning so to pave the way for future sustainable development in municipalities. The second phase identified measures for the implementation of ecosystem services and ten key factors to promote the integration of ES in local planning. This phase included national analysis of ecosystem services in municipal comprehensive plans for Swedish municipalities presented in Paper II. The supporting statistical analysis revealed a temporal trend in the integration of ecosystem services in the municipal comprehensive plans during the last decade. In the last phase of the thesis, experiences and learning examples were identified to strengthen SEA as a planning tool by examining practices and experiences from eight European countries. In addition, it was investigated how ecosystem services were integrated into SEA for municipal comprehensive plans in Stockholm County, in order to study how SEAs can be used to strengthen ecosystem services in local planning. The synthesis of the results from the appended papers identifies ways to promote ecosystem services in local planning. The proposed measures for operationalizing ecosystem services from vision to action include: (i) improving institutional and organizational conditions (ii) facilitating communication and collaboration between actors (iii) engaging public early in the planning process (iv) adapting guidance and tools to local conditions and circumstances (v) advancing role of SEA for planning.The thesis concludes with suggestions for future research, for example to investigate how nature-based solutions for operationalizing ecosystem services can be designed in local planning.