How the municipality is structured and organised has been identified as a crucial factor determining the success of many sustainability or nature-based interventions. These themes are interdisciplinary in nature and thus require the cooperation of a range of actors who typically may not have effectively collaborated in the past. NBS present a fundamentally different approach as compared with conventional urban development. A range of factors explain the novelty of NBS:
- As solutions, NBS tend not to be ad hoc - they are not developed to address one specific problem, but a range of interconnected challenges
- The benefits of NBS interventions tend to be abstract, i.e. can be difficult to quantify
- NBS tend to foster a high degree of public (rather than private) goods; therefore, these dispersed benefits cannot be easily allocated to one department or actor, but multiple departments and actors. At the same time, for the effective implementation of NBS at the required scale the cooperation of private actors is necessary.
- NBS benefits tend to relatively long term payoffs
For these reasons, NBS presents an organisational challenge in terms of the necessity to get multiple actors on board to develop an effective coalition to support their uptake. Conversely, the concept presents a potential mechanism to support and foster better cross-sectoral cooperation as a longer-term governance ambition in cities.
Two central perspectives could be identified:
- Cooperation within the administration: The challenges identified reflect the difficulties in deploying a cross-sectoral concept in the context of the existing silos that still largely characterise municipal governance structures. The identified challenges reflect these issues, highlighting aspects such as: data and knowledge sharing between departments and other municipal agencies; cross departmental financing of NBS; a lack of effective planning tools; aspects relating to the procurement processes; and, the effective inclusion of other themes, particularly “health”, under the NBS umbrella in partner cities.
- Effectively engaging with actors outside of the administration: Like any intervention that targets urban space there will likely be a wide range of stakeholders potentially be affected by a given NBS intervention. In order to increase acceptance of NBS on behalf of the citizens and other local stakeholders, it is important that effective mechanisms for inclusion of these stakeholders are present. In particular to effectively include citizens in the development of NBS there is a need for the effective integration of new co-creation formats.