Disconnecting the autopilot in urban water projects: creating an innovation platform for sustainability

Susanne Balslev Nielsen, Marina Bergen Jensen, Ny Øhlenschlæger, Ellen Højgaard Jensen, Helle Katrine Andersen, Niels Dengsøe

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    How can we motivate urban planners, water utilities and house owners to collaborate about sustainable urban water projects and to aim for solutions that go beyond the narrow perspective of individual stakeholder interests? A concept for framing a multidisciplinary learning process is developed in the research project: Black blue green: Integrated infrastructure planning as key to sustainable urban water systems, with the acronym 2BG. The concept addresses the need for local authorities to develop competences for adopting an integrated approach including different internal departments. The concept is referred to as ‘the 2BG platform concept’. The 2BG platform concept as been tested three times and proves to a step in the intended directions of developing organisational competences for an integrated approach in sustainable urban water projects. Primarily because it invites urban planners, road and park managers, and sewage managers to a dialogue about sustainable urban water projects while exploring cases of new design solutions; secondly because it facilitates an appreciative communication between “softer” and “harder” disciplines, and thirdly because it promotes multidisciplinary thinking during the early stages of an urban water project. To realise new sustainable urban water designs a project team will need to engage and get acceptance from internal and external stakeholders, and this calls for communication and social skills rather than technical skills. The paper identifies potential stakeholders that can support or potentially stop urban water projects. Competences of network governance represent a need to break out of the conventional urban water design and to develop new designs where storm water is handled visible to citizens. The platform concept is in a Danish context a milestone in capacity building for integrating urban planning with water management and management of parks and roads, and might inspire others to rethink planning processes and to build organisational competences to innovate urban water management for the benefit of present and future citizens.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationcof2011
    Publication date2011
    PagesIWA 5733
    Publication statusPublished - 2011
    EventCities of the Future 2011 : Sustainable Urban Planning and Water Management - Stockholm, Sweden
    Duration: 22 May 201125 May 2011


    ConferenceCities of the Future 2011
    Internet address

    Cite this

    Nielsen, S. B., Jensen, M. B., Øhlenschlæger, N., Jensen, E. H., Andersen, H. K., & Dengsøe, N. (2011). Disconnecting the autopilot in urban water projects: creating an innovation platform for sustainability. In cof2011 (pp. IWA 5733)