Exploring the role of governance in supporting urban green infrastructure for sustainability transitions
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Green infrastructure development in urban areas may be enhanced by governing processes that are collaborative, action-oriented, and strategically organized. Past literature has provided evidence on the performance, purpose, and outcomes associated with green infrastructure development and the individual features (e.g. trees, green roofs) to provide improvements to urban sustainability. This is important because it provides a clear understanding of how green infrastructure works and why it may be scaled to contribute to supporting other urban infrastructure, the form it may take, and the functions and outcomes. Building off this it is also important to bring to light the role of actors, the approaches to embed green infrastructure actions in urban areas, and the construction of experiments to advance development through diverse organizing processes. These three aspects are critical in supporting the application of green infrastructure to potentially guide processes and outcomes for more fundamental change to the structures and function of urban areas. The dissertation addresses these opportunities by pulling together a research program guided by the conceptualization of governance arrangements supportive of urban sustainability transitions. More specifically this research demonstrates how multi-actor governance for green infrastructure is mediated by direct implementation of interventions and the construction of experiments for a range of actors to navigate installation and future development opportunities. Through empirical research, qualitative content analysis is used to construct and interpret interviews with local government representatives, businesses, business networks, and civil society organizations. Three empirical chapters are included detailing the role of private actors directing the development of green infrastructure; the role of action-oriented development to support system change for green infrastructure development; and the strategic delivery of green infrastructure experiments for improved processes and outcomes. Collectively, these three chapters demonstrate and offer greater insight into the multi-actor and collaborative nature of developing green infrastructure supportive of sustainability transitions. The first manuscript empirically describes who shapes and guides the development of green infrastructure in urban areas, with a focus on private actors. Examining the multiplicity of actors needed to shape green infrastructure in urban areas requires increased support from civil society organizations, businesses, and business networks. Using their array of knowledge, resources, and skills private actors lead development in urban areas based on core organizational mandates, guide and support other actors to develop green infrastructure, or align their programs to support local government initiatives. This research offers a better understanding of the roles played by private actors in green infrastructure development. The second manuscript brings to light the importance of actions and interventions in serving to alter transition agendas and long-term visions, all collectively supporting wider system change for future development trajectories. The findings reveal how diverse green infrastructure actions, such as the installation of specific features or participation in early phase design of green spaces, are critical in providing the necessary understanding, confidence, and experience to more thoroughly advance existing green infrastructure agendas and more widely scope future opportunities to build green infrastructure networks in urban areas. The implication of this research is to suggest that sustainability transitions, as a process of system change, are anchored by the ability of actors to engage with interventions and reproduce and contest the meaning or purpose of specific green infrastructure features. The final manuscript explores how green infrastructure is implemented through the utilization and framing of experimental processes. The findings show how green infrastructure experiments are strategically applied to navigate urban sustainability action and other constraints. In addition, the experiments provide clear opportunities for learning, multi-actor actor capacity building, and co-designed projects. The implication of this is experiments provide green infrastructure stakeholders with strategies to deploy interventions while preserving connections and applicability to existing urban sustainability programs. The dissertation emphasizes the importance of actors and the processes utilized to deploy green infrastructure interventions and present green infrastructure more effectively or strategically as a tool well-aligned to the existing objectives of urban sustainability. This work supports theoretical insights into how green infrastructure contributes to change processes in urban areas. Empirically, this work advances understanding of the multiple strategies available for actors to collaboratively shape and guide development processes. Practically, this work provides evidence for diverse green infrastructure practitioners to direct their organizational strengths to deliver tangible results. Overall, this work draws attention to the role of governing with multi-actor arrangements and multiple strategies for pursuing and embedding green infrastructure development in urban areas.
Cite this version of the work
Aravind Kundurpi (2021). Exploring the role of governance in supporting urban green infrastructure for sustainability transitions. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/16746