Nurturing nature: exploring socio-spatial conditions for urban experimentation

Marloes Dignum, Hade Dorst, Maarten van Schie, Ton Dassen, Rob Raven

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Cities are critical places for the emergence of sustainability transitions. The early phases of transition are often characterised by experimentation. Socio-spatial conditions, such as local policy, governance networks, localised learning and funding structures, are known to influence experimentation, yet there is little empirical knowledge on how these conditions contribute. We construct a framework to analyse how these conditions coincide with patterns in urban experimentation, distinguishing between incremental and radical experimentation and between social, technological, and systemic experiments. We introduce a method for large-N analysis and apply this to a database of 520 NBS in 100 European cities. This creates detailed insights into which socio-spatial conditions are associated with particular types of experimentation and how this relates to the urban innovative environment. Empirically, this paper focuses on ‘Nature-Based Solutions’ (NBS), which is an emerging concept for the innovative use of nature to address societal challenges.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7-25
Number of pages19
JournalEnvironmental Innovation and Societal Transitions
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


  • Cities
  • Geography of sustainability transitions
  • Nature-based solutions
  • Quantitative analysis
  • Urban experimentation

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