Fourteen local governance initiatives in greenspace in urban areas in the Netherlands. Discourses, success and failure factors, and the perspectives of local authorities

C.B.E.M. Aalbers*, D.A. Kamphorst, F. Langers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article covers two years of research into the factors that determine the success or failure of initiatives taken by companies, citizens or municipalities in or for greenspace in urban regions in the Netherlands. The researchers investigated fourteen initiatives and selected five of them for more exhaustive case studies. Semi-open interviews were conducted with initiators, local government officers, elected municipal councillors and members of the municipal executive board. Websites and policy documents were also studied and initiatives were visited.The study uses the policy arrangement approach which identifies actors and their coalitions, discourses, resources, and rules and regulations. The research investigates the development of the initiatives, the initiators’ ambitions, and identifies the success and failure factors, local government involvement and views of the latter on how to approach societal initiatives in general. Do local authorities perceive a transition in the way their municipalities address societal initiatives? A short reflection on the applicability of change theories completes the research: Strategic Niche Management theory and change theory according to the Policy Arrangement Approach.This review of initiatives combined with case study research provides in depth insights into the relations that exist or may develop around initiatives in greenspace. The research showed that the initiatives lead to a broader meaning and involvement of more actors around green spaces. They integrate greenspace with social and economic development. The greenspace which the initiatives develop includes among others vegetable production, letting out of greenspace for yoga or to schools, and wadis. Among the factors of success are the agreement with the municipality and whether the discourse is in tune with the current social climate. A failure factor is e.g. that ‘green space has no value’ compared to the value of land and buildings accrued by municipal real estate development, according to citizens and local officers.The article contains recommendations to local governments and prospects for further research. Pragmatism, and thinking together with the initiators about how to turn an initiative into a success are part of these recommendations. The involvement of more actors and the broader meaning and integration of greenspace with social and economic development is possibly making it more resistant to building. This deserves investigation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-99
Number of pages33
JournalUrban Forestry and Urban Greening
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019

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