European Cooperation in the field of Scientific and Technical Research -

COST Action C11


This first report from the Greenscom European research project focuses on communication strategies in planning and management of urban growth and green issues. Together with the simultaneously produced WP2 report on governance and policy instruments it presents theoretical points of departure for case studies in seven European cities (Aarhus, Cergy-Pontoise, Göteborg, Helsinki, Houten, Tampere and Utrecht). The main goal for the project as a whole is to identify, analyse and recommend planning instruments and tools useful for planning practice in different planning situations.


Tools for communication in urban planning are used in compulsory or voluntary activities like information meetings, review processes, exhibitions, hearings and other knowledge building or negotiation situations. Hence, tools refer in this report to a broad range of methods, social settings, activities, illustrations and media that can be used for the exchange of knowledge and arguments in communication situations concerning urban growth and green issues. In order to frame the description, analyses and evaluation of the case studies different types of communication situations are identified and mapped. Also, two basic types of tools are identified: tools in action and tools for interaction.

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Work Package 1

By : Chalmers University of Technology, Gothenburg, Sweden

Lisbeth Birgersson

Björn Malbert

Knut Strömberg


Date : March 15th, 2001


Governance and Communication


  • Identification of current issues and dilemma in communicating urban growth and green amongst the involved stakeholders



  • Creating a framework for learning lessons from past experiences



  • Discussing communication situations and tools for interaction


Tools in action are integrated parts of practice and more or less specific for each actor involved in urban planning. Such tools can be used and developed for a strategic and comprehensive level of planning &endash; strategic tools &endash; or for the development, maintenance, or protection of qualities in the urban landscape at more detailed levels &endash; operational tools. Most countries have a long tradition in using such tools to protect green areas and, more recently trying to integrate green issues in the context of urban planning. The increasing demand for communication in planning focuses on the functions of tools for interaction with other actors. Tools for interaction support the exchange of knowledge and arguments across disciplinary and cultural boarders in order to create shared actions. This can both be seen from a strategic view &endash; for instance, how to involve stakeholders to make and implement a plan &endash; and from an ethical view &endash; for instance, the right of citizens to influence how the green in the city is used.


Current discourses in planning theory and experience from planning practice is used as a base for formulating criteria to discuss the quality of communicative planning and the application of communicative tools. The quality has to be appraised both in terms of the process itself as well as of the outcome of the planning efforts. The quality of the process depends on e.g. ethical principles like inclusion of all relevant parties, representation of interests effected not present and access to information about the framing of the situation in terms of decision taking and resources. The quality of the process concerns whether the processes have contributed to a constructive exchange of knowledge and arguments in a mutual learning process among stakeholders. The quality of the outcome shall be appraised in terms of their capacity to identify, analyse and communicate substantive issues of relevance and if the processes have had any impact on balancing questions concerning green and growth in relation to the intentions of the project. The main question is whether the communicative processes have improved the practice of the actors involved and if they have contributed to the building of long-term trust and ability for future shared actions.


With the help of examples from innovative approaches towards communicative planning, a more relativistic perspective is also sketched out to support the case studies. Three different approaches are identified to provide a base for analyses of the positions of the main actors in the development of communication situations in urban planning and research. All three approaches intend to extend existing practices towards a more reflexive perspective on planning and research. Reflexive practice can be characterised by the view that learning and knowledge building is relational and based on shared and situated practice. Tools have to function both within reach of the actors using them and within the range of their intended actions. For urban planners, the tools have to be able to transform conceived experience in a place into abstracted knowledge with a certain range in space. Such 'spaced' images and concepts should, in turn, support co-ordination of different practices involved in planning and implementation.


Reach and range, place and space are conceptual tools used to introduce the idea of creating interfaces between different practices, in place and space, that will enable mutual trust and learning, and thus give a framework for tools in transition. Planning tools in transition function as learning instruments involving reaching and ranging of all practices involved. They must have the ability to connect and develop the possibilities and options created by relational trusts developed in place and the intellectual exchange in space. The challenge in the Greenscom case studies is to analyse and evaluate the function of tools in reaching and ranging practices and to discuss how to frame new interfaces using the dimension of space as a key aspect.

Work Package 2

Governance and Policy Instruments


  • Identification of current issues and dilemmas in the use of policy instruments for governing urban growth and green amongst the involved stakeholders
  • Creating a framework for analysing governance and policy instruments
  • Generating innovative approaches to governance and policy instruments

By :Helsinki University of Technology, Finland

Kimmo Lapintie

Olli Maijala

Taina Rajanti

Date :March 15th, 2001


The report begins with an analysis of the concept of sustainable development and the recent three "turns" of planning (ecological, communicative and societal), which present planning with new challenges. Planning must be understood in relation to the societal context, no more a closed professional field of expertise but a specific agency in a policy network. Planning and planning instruments should make space for new agencies.


The report continues with an overview on discussion on governance, coming up with the idea of sustainable governance, governance that is sustainable within all the three turns of planning. We point out minimum criteria for sustainability of governance and policy instruments:

1. In societal field we shall be looking for governance and tools that work for empowerment of all citizens and especially the disadvantaged ones, tools that work for inclusion instead of exclusion upholding social justice and democracy.

2. In the communicative field we shall look for governance and tools that avoid deadlocks, wasting energy in futile disputes.

3. In the ecological field we look for governance and tools that work for ecologically sustainable development, so that a minimum requirement is that governance or tools produce no counter-finalities, i.e. solutions that nobody wants or that in the long run are in nobody's interest.


These criteria are then elaborated for a frame for analysing the sustainability of policy instruments, with stress in this workpackage on social sustainability.


Since governance means engaging directly with stakeholders, and works through differentiating processes, for general structural social sustainability we stress the significance of public structures, both with regard to social structures and urban structures. Furthermore, with regard to contextual social sustainability of the policy network in action we stress the need for policy instruments to open up new agencies for new social actors. We can hypothesise that each actor evaluates the meaning and successfulness of a policy instrument according to the field of action he recognises primary, and according to the agency in which he/it (they) identify themselves with. Socially sustainable planning must make sure that different fields of action meaningful to different actors are respected, to contest exclusion and disempowerment.


For avoiding deadlocks in the use of a policy instrument we stress the need of time, and of multiple fields of action recognised for the instruments. To avoid counter-finalities in planning we propose to apply a network-oriented approach to nature: "green" should be considered as an actant part of the policy network.


The frame is then used for analysing some examples of policy instruments intended for planning urban growth and green, such as green structures and green structure plans, and some other structural plans of urban green; furthermore we analyse some interactive policy instruments such as compensation and EIA, or argumentation analysis and assessment. The report closes with conclusions and research questions for further developing the frame for use in case studies of governing urban growth and green.

Work package 3

Case study manual


  • Guidelines for essays about the national context
  • Guidelines for essays about the local context
  • Method, criteria and research questions for the case studies

By : Alterra, green world research, Wageningen, The Netherlands

Sybrand Tjallingii

Marleen van den Top

Carmen Aalbers

Appendix 1: Herman Thunnissen (Alterra)

Appendix 2: Taina Rajanti (Helsinki University of Technology, Finland)

Date: June 28th, 2001

This manual provides a frame for the GREENSCOM case studies to be held in 2001. The aim is to create conditions for generating results that are relevant for the GREENSCOM objectives and, as far as necessary and possible, comparable with each other.

Structure of the manual

The structure of the manual in chapter one, two and three stems from the following considerations. The heart of the case studies is chapter three where we will empirically investigate the use of tools in communicating urban growth and green. The tools relate to innovative practices in the field of governance (communication strategies and policy instruments). Eventually this will lead to recommendations about the use or the improvement of these practices. This is what we call the toolkit, that will be the end result of work package10. Our deepened understanding will be described and assessed in work package 9.


Innovative practices always have to be seen in a context. As long as we are in a certain city, this context may be self-evident and remain implicit. In an international comparative analysis, however, the 'black boxes' of the context must be opened. Therefore, the chapter three case studies will be preceded by a chapter one that describes the national context and a chapter two describing the local context.


Appendix one explores the options to include GIS analysis in the case studies and Appendix two, the methodological toolbox, can be used as inspiration and as a source for more specific questions and methodological suggestions.

The manual and the case study reports

Chapters one and two of the case study reports will have the form of essays, illustrated by figures and maps. Each essay should not exceed 25 pages (approximately 10 000 words). The table of contents of the chapters 1 and 2 follows the structure given in the manual. Chapter 3 describes the specific field research in the cities. The manual presents the basic criteria and research questions and a model for the table of contents.

Learning by doing

The manual provides the common frame for the case studies. As we work on the cases, we may learn about the usefulness of the frame. Therefore, the frame is flexible. The present version is our point of departure but during the case studies we will exchange experiences and we will meet to discuss improvements thought necessary. Decisions about changes of the present frame will be taken at a mid-term meeting in Arhus (September 2001).


Earlier drafts of the manual were discussed at the meetings in Utrecht (November 2000), Paris (February 2001) and Marseilles (May 2001). The final version is prepared by the Dutch Greenscom team in close co-operation with the research partners. Appendix 2 is written by Taina Rajanti, Finland.


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up dated 14 may 02
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