The effectiveness of collaboration between planning and public health teams in integrating work to achieve better health and green infrastructure outcomes.
During the PERFECT project, the City of Amsterdam’s Public Health Service and Department of Urban Planning and Sustainability have jointly contributed to the peer-to-peer and stakeholder meetings. The partnership has learnt how the two services have collaborated on the design and planning of spatial interventions within the Amsterdam Green Agenda.
Previously the two departments worked in silos and this lack of engagement and communication between teams could lead to competing policy priorities and duplication of work. Implementing a more integrated approach with opportunities for conversations to happen such as workshops and a seat or job swap – with members of different teams sitting and working in other departments to encouraging cross sector communication and sharing of knowledge/ evidence. This can add various expertise to research and reports feeding into policy change. Furthermore, creating a shared evidence base that can support decision making and feed in to reports and can be used for baseline studies and indicators in measuring success.
The main stakeholders are officers working within municipalities in the planning department, development management, public health, environmental health, transport and more. Other relevant stakeholders that can use the resources and learn from the knowledge sharing are Councillors, and private sector, community and charity groups.
In Amsterdam, seven Health department colleagues spend 25-50% of their time on health and green infrastructure (training, conducting research, hosting events) in cooperation with around seven Sustainability department colleagues, including policymakers. A small budget for events is also required.
Evidence of success
In Amsterdam, it was a great success when a specific section about the health impacts of green infrastructure was included in their Greenvision 2025 policy. This came about directly through the close interdepartmental cooperation between the Health and Sustainability departments. The success could also be measured via attendee feedback after events and through the creation of a shared evidence base for all relevant bodies (and the time this saves by avoiding duplicating work).
Potential for learning or transfer
This practice is valuable to all regions to learn from as joint-up thinking and collaboration is very important in achieving long-lasting change and influencing policy and outputs.
Capacity building to train local officers within municipalities can be provided by experts, or those who have experienced workshops and had successes in implementation. Workshops will be tailored to locally specific needs and barriers. Research can be conducted to identify where the support is needed and knowledge is required to help support decision making and improve the joint-up thinking, in delivering better GI outcomes. The publication of guidance to support municipalities in implementing policies and applying evidence into practice. And finally, awareness raising across relevant sectors and professional groups through presentations, events and social media to highlight the importance of knowledge and expertise sharing and having cohesive conversations.
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