The ‘open space platform’ brings together different institutions to work on an active and integrated programmatic approach of the open space in Flanders.
In Flanders, two general approaches exist for territorial development: Sectoral policy development (general binding and stimulating stipulations applicable for the whole territory or a specific province or municipality) or regional development projects (targeting a specific and clearly demarcated area within the landscape.)
Both have their advantages and disadvantages. General policy development can be complex and is sector oriented, while regional development projects proposing integrated approaches require a lot of effort to influence only a small part of the landscape.
The ‘open space platform’ proposes a layer in between these two approaches. By isolating recurring challenges within the landscape, such as drought, food production and disappearing valued landscapes among others, and setting up a programmatic work for each of these challenges, the integrated approach can be combined with a region covering approach.

For each recurring challenge, a program is started involving all relevant actors. A region wide call is launched for projects, who want support in solving challenges related to the respective call. All the participating institutions agreed to donate a small part of their yearly budget resulting in a large funding instrument.

The main beneficiaries are municipalities, private organisations, SME’s, NGO’s and more who want to improve the open space within their neighbourhood.

Resources needed

• The platform: Responsibility of 5 organizations. Ca. 1FTE own personnel and 1FTE external experts.
• The first call guides 14 projects: Ca. 3-4 FTE is spend by governmental personnel and 350.000€ on external experts and support.
The 14 projects (will) receive(d) 5.750.000€ funding.

Evidence of success

The first call was answered by 40 coalitions across Flanders and 14 eventually participate in the program. All projects of the first call are related to integrated water management. They developed several cross sectoral approaches for issues such as erosion, well protection and salinization. Because of the project, the 14 coalitions (municipalities, farmers, local companies,etc.) found better solutions for all stakeholders and regions, which would not have been possible without the cooperation.

Difficulties encountered

Cross-sectoral cooperation is a challenge for the participating institutions as well as the different partners in each project of a call. A large focus is put on content while more process guidance / learning should have happened on all levels of the project. This will be adapted in future calls.

Potential for learning or transfer

Firstly, different governmental institutions agreed to spend a small part of their yearly budget on multiple thematic calls. These thematic calls are open for regional coalitions and relate to challenges such as sustainable food production, water management, valued landscapes and so forth. They are cross-sectoral themes which require the knowledge and instruments of the different stakeholders.., creating an environment in which different governmental institutions can work together.

Secondly, knowledge is collected and disseminated to all participants as well as the general public, therefore creating a wide learning environment in which the different coalitions of one call work together towards joint solutions. It is a joint learning event helping to increase the knowledge need to solve the specific challenges of the different participating coalitions as well as more general challenges in Flanders.

Please login to see the expert opinion of this good practice.

Main institution
Flemish Land Agency (VLM)
Prov. Vlaams-Brabant, Belgium (Belgique-België)
Start Date
January 2017
End Date


Please login to contact the author.