Publications (FIS)

Greening cities through urban planning

A literature review on the uptake of concepts and methods in Stockholm

authored by
Blal Adem Esmail, Chiara Cortinovis, Lina Suleiman, Christian Albert, Davide Geneletti, Ulla Mörtberg

Nature-based solutions (NBS) represent the most recent of several “greening” concepts proposed to support spatial planning and decision-making towards sustainable metropolitan regions. Despite similarities, the concepts stem from different disciplines and policy arenas and reflect various models of people-nature relations. This paper aims to analyze the uptake of greening concepts in scientific planning literature focusing on (urban) nature and landscape in the metropolitan region of Stockholm, Sweden, over the last three decades. It investigates what changes this evolution has brought in terms of the topics adopted, methods applied, and types of planning support put into practice. We identified 574 articles that reflect substantial research on greening concepts in the Swedish planning context. The articles demonstrate an initial prevalence of biodiversity with later increases of interest in ecosystem services and NBS. A detailed analysis of the studies focusing on Stockholm revealed Population growth/densification, Green space management and Biodiversity conservation as the most commonly addressed societal challenges. The most frequently mentioned type of green and blue element is Parks and (semi-)natural urban green areas, including urban forests. Methods applied were mostly quantitative, while mixes with qualitative approaches were only apparent in ecosystem services articles. Half of the studies involved practitioners or decision-makers, but only four seemed related to real-life planning processes. Taken together, the influence of scientific literature on the uptake of greening concepts in spatial planning seems to have been limited. Future mainstreaming of greening concepts in Stockholm and beyond could benefit from available data, methods and experiences, but will require more active translation and boundary management. Further research into science-policy-planning interfaces at city scale is thus imperative to advance more sustainable pathways for people and nature in metropolitan regions.

Institute of Environmental Planning
External Organisation(s)
Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Royal Institute of Technology (KTH)
University of Trento
Review article
Urban Forestry and Urban Greening
Publication date
Publication status
Peer reviewed
ASJC Scopus subject areas
Forestry, Ecology, Soil Science
Sustainable Development Goals
SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
Electronic version(s) (Access: Open)