Transforming Urban Environments: a Collaborative Approach

Transforming urban environments: pursuing a collaborative approach to natural resource management, planning and pract.

Course objectives


The sustainable management of natural resources located in publicly accessible areas of shared urban space (for example, parks, woodlands, footpaths, waterways) is increasingly dependent upon the collaborative engagement of multiple stakeholders. The active engagement of a range of public, private and third sector organisations, but also individual local residents, reportedly supports the building of resourceful and resilient communities. For advocates, collaborative, community-orientated approaches to natural resource management are capable of producing multiple cross-cutting benefits. This reportedly includes, for example, fostering enterprising forms of green growth and employment, enhancing health and wellbeing, protecting against environmental risk, tackling poverty and inequality, and safeguarding communities through the nurturing of greater food, water and energy security. In practice, however, realizing these returns can be far from straight forward. In part at least, this is due to the considerable challenge of creating and nurturing collaborative forms of local environmental action and governance between diverse and unequal stakeholders.

This study will investigate the mechanisms by which collaborative forms of natural resource management are being pursued as a means to improving social and ecological conditions in tandem, with particular emphasis on ex-industrial, and/ or brown field urban environments. It will review the contribution of such initiatives to building sustainable, restorative and resilient relationships between local residents and their surrounding natural resource base. Supported by in-depth qualitative data collection undertaken within England the study will critically explore the conditions under which a collaborative approach to natural resource management, planning and practice is possible at varying scales within urban settings. The research will analyse different types of shared management and ownership arrangements, including those of a long-term or merely temporary nature, those that have arisen as a result of external grants, those that require collaboration between a range of different stakeholder groups, and those that are an outcome of voluntary forms of community-led environmental, leisure, educational or other shared practice types of natural resource based endeavour.

Expected Results

Transdisciplinary understanding of how policies and practices influence local resource ‘ownership’ and management; Guidance for increased public engagement in resource management, including transforming neglected sites into community assets; Innovative ways of measuring and increasing social impact.