Regional and local governments in Europe are often challenged with establishing suitable institutional practices to meet ecological targets within urban spatial development plans and address the ultimate goal of the Environmental Policy Integration (EPI). EPI has been proliferated by the European policy as the operational principle to sustainable development. Yet it is necessary to develop and apply suitable approaches that allow achieving EPI within the policy implementation practices of the local and regional authorities. Particularly in the field of urban planning, such EPI approaches are needed to more firmly integrate ecological considerations in the land-use planning process and safeguard the sustainability of urban developments. This is the case when implementing key nature policy objectives such as the development of national ecological networks (NEN) aimed at protecting biodiversity, and in which multiple actors and sectorial interests are involved. Among European countries, the Netherlands has been a forerunner in NEN development and has applied innovative approaches such as the Red for Green approach (RGA). The RGA aims to integrate ecological issues (green) in urban developments (red) and establishes a communicative platform for the actors involved in the urban developments. This study assesses the unique experiences with the RGA in seven regional case studies, identifies its key success factors and reflects on its role as a communicative practice towards EPI. The study concludes that the RGA can be a suitable approach to integrating ecological network objectives in urban developments. However, RGA’s success depends on five factors, among which the two most important are the actors’ communication and development of a shared strategic vision on developments.
- Communicative planning
- Ecological networks
- Environmental policy integration
- Nature conservation policy
- Urban development