Chess, Roles and Alliances

Kruf, J.P. (2020), White King Alliance.

From White King to Black Pawn, all symbolise a specific role that components (read: different types of organisations in the public domain of society) have or play in the Ecosystem City®.

This serie shows strong interactions, displayed by the type of actor (left above) and type of object (right under) with their respective roles, displayed by the pieces of chess.

In this example above the inhabitant of the city (White King) is associated with personal freedom, religion and thought, such within the frames of the ethics of science. Pantone® colours are Lunar Rock (Religion & Thought organisations), Lime Green (Science organisations), Jet Black (System World) and Snow White (Living World).


Kruf, J.P. (2020). Power [fine art print].

This is how power feels. During the actions of a sitting president in his try to revert the votes of the people, all fields of the chess board of society turned Imperial Blue (Pantone®). Government exercises all its power to keep power. Machiavelli was so right about the essence of politics: in essence it is all about power and influence.


In nature, ecosystems find themselves in a palette of phases of development. The natural forest for example is not something homogenious static, but can be defined as the sum of different phases which at the same time are present and co-exist. This palette make the forest to what it is in essence. Each phase is unique and has its own dynamics and architecture.

In forest ecology the approach of diagnosis of this state is advanced and scientifically developed by Oldeman (1990). In his forest diagnosis and design of the forest he combined different sciences and approaches and brought them together in a understandable set of phases of forest architecture. It is an assumption that also cities and within that organisations, the true components of society, follow the same patterns as forests do. Why should they not, if they are considered as belonging to the same earth ecosystem. That cities and organisations also have a palette of eco-units is plausible.

Oldeman (1990) elaborated the phases of architecture of innovation, aggradation, biostatis (maturity) and degradation. In general the next phases can be distinguished: innovation (a new beginning, after a reorganisation or a fire, huge competition, new seedlings), aggradation (the build-up, individuals are in development and growing, in prospect, expansion), biostatis (individuals determining the rules, a balancing act, stable mature phase, rich structure, high biodiversity) and degradation (individuals are in decay, dying, leaving, part of the system collapse).

Within public governance the phase of development of organisations is most of the time underexposed in processes of strategy, policy and implementation. As said, every phase – at least in natural forests – has its own set of ground rules, which of course has to be recognised and respected by its stewards and leaders on one hand and the individuals of the system on the other hand. The present set of phases within an organisation can be influenced by internal (leadership, culture, styles, issues, business continuity demands) as well as external (cyber, corona, flooding, competition) factors.

In what phase is your organisation?


Oldeman, R.A.A. (1990). Forests: Elements of Silvology. Berlin Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.


Component Colour Wheel

Kruf, J.P. (2012). Ecosystem City® Component Colour Basic Wheel with connection lines.

The colour wheel – first designed in 1666 by Isaac Newton, is a way of illustrating hues related to types of organisations, which are active in the city. This can be useful if you consider the fact that a city have hundreds, sometimes even thousands of active organisations within their borders. How to order them and keep track of drivers and backgrounds or find out positions in the perspective of the governance of the city? Colours can visualise the network of the city landscape.

Based on the city – forest analogy in the Ecosystem City® as well as on the triangle for main types of organisations – government, business and civil society (Meijer, 2018) – active in the city, the first draft of a (city) component colour wheel was designed by me. I believe that linking colours to types can be helpful in understanding and readability in the process of diagnosing the state of the city. I consider organisations in this approach as the basic components of the city, like organisms in a forest. Quite an analogy.

Mintzberg (2016) talks about species of organisations, in the way they are managed and focused. He elaborated this idea from his earlier publication Structure in Fives (Mintzberg, 1983). Adding the scope of organisations on content and value approach is a challenging step. Introduction of these types – taxonomically in analogy with that of the classification of species within genera and accordingly within families – is an exploration in itself. The starting point is the basic wheel.

All colours are from the palette of the Pantone Color Matching System, for reasons of standardisation, print and reproduction.

The basic wheel
The colour red (Pantone® Poppy Red) symbolises the civil society and as a metaphor the ecosystem of city life. The colour green (Pantone® Forest Green) symbolises the natural environment or better: nature as a whole. Following the triangle the colour blue (Pantone® Imperial Blue) symbolises government, the colour yellow (Pantone® Vibrant Yellow) symbolises business.

Directly related is the colour orange (Pantone® Carrot Curl) symbolising the true non-governmental side of civil society.Because of the political convictions and their influence on the management of the city – I added political organisations to the basic wheel, represented by the colour purple (Pantone® Royal Purple). Politics is often considered as a part of government in the triangle by underlying democratic principles, but the direct influence on the city landscape justifies a place in the basic wheel. It is connected with blue via election or nomination processes.

Kruf, J.P. (2016). Ecosystem City® Component Colour Wheel extended.

The extended wheel

Clockwise, starting at 12:00, the components are described and explained. The extended colour wheel regards a limited selection of extra types of organisations – the components of the Ecosystem City® –  which from the perspective of city management play on average a major role in discussions, debates and decisions.

Civil society (Pantone® Poppy Red) can be understood as the “third sector” of society, distinct from government and business, and including the family and the private sphere.

Non-governmental organisations (Pantone® Carrot Curl), are an essental part of civil society, representing relevant public values and interests in a wide diversity, independent and non-profit or not-for-profit.

Education organisations (Pantone® Gold Fusion). They come in a variety of form, steered by government, founded independently or as business. The colour has been chosen because education is the golden lining of human and social development. Education is about improvement and development.

Religion & Thought organisations (Pantone® Lunar Rock) is the functional component concerning spiritual and belief and its organisations and institutions. Religion is a social-cultural system of designated behaviours and practices, morals, world views, texts, sanctified places, prophecies, ethics, or organizations, that relates humanity to supernatural, transcendental, or spiritual elements. Thought on the other hand encompasses an aim-oriented flow of ideas and associations that can lead to a reality-oriented conclusion. The colour has been chosen because the moon has a special place in all religion and thought. Beside that it is linked with quietness and its associations and synonyms like peacefulness, peace and quiet, restfulness, calmness, tranquillity and serenity.

Finance organisations (Pantone® Silver) enable the flow of money. Financing is their main function, i.e. accepting deposits from the public, creating credit, lending and investing, performed either directly or indirectly through capital markets. Banks and investors belong to this component. The emerge as cooperation, state-owned or privately owned.

The system world (Pantone®Jet Black) is the world of election, governance, rules and regulation, taxes, performance, services, the system and its mechanisms. The colour is linked with the mineraloid Jet, which has an organic origin, being derived from decaying wood under extreme pressure. So the colour has it roots in the living world but because of its structure is now symbolising the system world. Frozen life.

Business organisations  (Pantone® Vibrant Yellow) come in a wide variety and abundance. All organisation represent the essence and vibrancy of entrepreneurschip. Yellow is the colour of innovation, brightness, power, hope and and positivity.

Media organisations (Pantone® Desert Dust) can be defined as the means of communication, as radio and television, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet, that reach or influence people widely.organisations come in a variety of organisational forms. They mostly are close to business oriented starting points and constraints. The deserve a separate place at the table, because of their essential roles in information dissemination as well in governmental checks and balances.

Science organisations (Pantone® Lime Green) can be defined as a systematic enterprise that builds and organises knowledge in the form of testable and verifiable explanations and predictions about the universe. Universities and research institutes belong to this group. They emerge in a variety of forms.

Nature (Pantone® Forest Green) is the functional component representing all natural ecosystems and the organisations related. The colour is an obvious association.

Governmental organisations (Pantone® Process Blue) concern the executive and performing domain of government, most of the time without an elected but a mandate structure in governance. The involved organisations serve the state, province, region or municipality directly and indirectly. They have a mandate to act related to government responsibilities Agencies and parastatals are part of this function.

Governmental councils (Pantone® Imperial Blue) are key components by which a state, region, city or community is controlled. They in fact are in charge of the public governance of society as well as of the natural environment. It serves its citizens and companies. It can be the (elected) governing council with its management such as a municipality, region, province or specific organisation. The associated colour is Pantone® Imperial Blue. It links with the Latin imperium, meaning ‘rule over large territories’.

Elected councils (Pantone® Royal Purple) are representing the people, the citizens through a process of election (in democracies). The colour speaks for itself, because the representation is widely considered as the highest in its forms. They are considered as an elementary and strategic part of government, interacting wit governmental councils and organisations. Their composition is based on formal elected representing members of political organisations.

Political organisations (Pantone® Violet Tulip) are related to ‘a set of activities associated with the governance of a country or an area. It involves making decisions that apply to members of a group’ (Hague et al., 2013). They refer in essence to the representation of ideas for achieving and exercising positions of governance-organized control over a human community. Machiavelli described politics as the world of ‘power and influence’. The associated colour is Pantone® Violet Tulip. Violet is the colour at the beginning of the visible spectrum, at the place where ideas become tangible and show themselves. And of course there are flowers for voters during election time.

Judiciary organisations (Pantone® Pottery Clay) is the governmental type of organisation which interprets and applies the law in a country, state or an international community. Courts belong to this component. They focus on the process of study, reduction, deduction and interpretations from laws, rules and regulations and accordingly on the formulation and dictation of decisions and enforcement. They are state-owned, but formally indecently operating.

Indicator organisations (Pantone® Natural) are related to natural expressions in art and culture, contributing to re-creation and renaissance.They are marked as a separate family of components because of their signing related to the state of society and its intrinsic indicating value. They come in a wide variety of organisational forms and appearances, but all indicate the state of the heart  of people, groups, society and ecosystems. The chosen colour natural has its own value.

Citizen (Pantone® Prism Pink) has a separate colour. It is the prism through which we consider the world. It is symbolising youth, good health, and playfulness. It stand for femininity and romance, sensitivity and tenderness. It’s inherently sweet, cute and charming. It is all the good humans represent.

In the center of the colour wheel, the Living World (Pantone® Snow White) has been situated. This colour symbolises the virginity, dynamics, creativity, self expression, consciousness, love and life. What is stronger than seeing one’s own footprints in the purity of the driven snow. Proof of life in it’s simplest form.


Ecosystem City®


Hague, R. and M. Harrop ( 2013) Comparative Government and Politics: An Introduction. New York: Palgrave Macmillan International Higher Education.

Meijer, A. (2018). Datapolis: A Public Governance Perspective on “Smart Cities”, Perspectives on Public Management and Governance, Volume 1, Issue 3, September 2018, Pages 195–206,

Mintzberg, H. (1985). Structure in Fives: Designing effective organisations. London: Pearson Education.

Mintzberg, H. (2016). Species of Organizations., Seen on the 10th of October 2020

System World and Living World

Kruf, J.P. (2017). System World.

The system world is the world of election, governance, rules and regulation, taxes, performance, services. It is a relevant component (on the highest level) of the City Ecosystem and therefore part of the City Codex. The chosen colour is Pantone® Jet Black, because of the association with the mineraloid Jet, which has an organic origin, being derived from decayingwood under extreme pressure. So the colour has it roots in the living world but because of its structure is now symbolising the system world.

Kruf, J.P. (2017). Living World.

The living world is the world of daily life, work and love. The world of personal and public values and lifestyles. The chosen colour Pantone® Snow White symbolises the virginity, dynamics, creativity, self expression, consciousness in the living world. What is stronger than seeing one’s own footprints in the purity of the driven snow. Proof of life in its simplest form.

The system world and the living world can be integrated in an optimal coherent situation. Individuals, organisations and natural ecosystems live in harmony with their governing systems vice versa. Or they can be completely separated. No interaction, no connection, no coherent situation. Individuals, organisations and natural ecosystems live separated from their governing systems. The so called system world does not address the needs and wills in the living world.


Forest City Rendezvous

Kruf, J.P. (2019). Forest, City, Rendezvous. Pantone® Forest Green 17-0230 TPG.

Red en green are complementary colours. Opposites in many ways. In our approach of the city as an ecosystem, we use this complementarity to understand and underline the present and existing contradiction between man and nature. One, the colour red, stands for the city in all its traditional urbanity. The other, the colour green, stands for nature.

In fact it is about the city-nature rendezvous. We have chosen for the metaphorical strong and tangible colour Pantone® Forest Green 17-0230 TPG.

There are many talks and concrete ideas to bring them together, link them in a sustainable approach of energy and climate, not only to approve the liveability of our cities but also for the sake nature itself and all colleague species in it. At the end of it, there is no other way. The plans and decisions by and for city of Madrid are a good example how a city reflects on its own state of resilience. The conclusion was, it is bad and it has to improve. This is a first start, the reforestation of the wastelands.

El Ayuntamiento de Madrid va a poner en marcha un plan para la reforestación de los descampados de las circunvalaciones. Serán más de 34000 árboles. La medida tiene como objetivo ampliar los espacios verdes dentro de la estrategia de sostenibilidad para contribuir a la mejora de la calidad del aire de la capital. – Ayuntamiento de Madrid.

There is this growing insight of biocentrism – Madrid is a good example – and the conviction that man and nature need to align and come together (again). Madrid has accepted the necessity and the challenge to protect its citizens, in fact its city. Nature and city, forest and men. It is a crucial connection. In Madrid the forest has a planned rendezvous with the city. It is an inspiration for a new start for a re-connection. A true rendezvous would be great.


Kruf, J.P. (2019). City, Ypres, Poppy. Pantone® Poppy Red 17-1664 TPG.

Ypres is the symbol of the ultimate resilience and dynamics of a city ecosystem. It refounded itself, recreated, rebalanced and resurrected from the immense losses on the dark battlefields of the Big War. If there is a city which can be given a distinctive colour, then it is Ypres in West-Flanders, Belgium. The city has the name City of Peace.

The poppy (Papaver spp.), in abundance growing among the graves of war victims near the city, has become the symbol for the remembrance for those who lost their lives. The remembrance poppy, the artificial flower and first created by Madame Guérin, is often worn on clothing leading up to Remembrance Day/Armistice Day on the 11th of November, the day in 2018 when the war was ended.

The poem In Flanders Fields, by Canadian and Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae, brings us all back to the day it was written, the 3rd of May 2015:

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the dead, short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

John McGrae

The most abundant flower – among other species of papavers – near the graves of the soldiers is the Flanders Poppy (Papaver rhoeas L.). When florists speak about the poppy they often mark it with the colour scarlet. Within Ecosystem City® we link the poppy colour Pantone® Poppy Red 17-1664 TPG to that of the city.

McCrae, John (1918). In Flanders Fields and Other Poems. Salt Lake City: Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.


Kruf, J.P. (2018). Citizen. Pantone® Terra Cotta 16-1526 TPG

The citizen is one of the basic functional components of the ecosystem city. The associated colour is that of Terra Cotta, derived from the craftsmanship of terra cotta (“baked earth”).

De burger is één van de functionele basiscomponenten van het ecosysteem stad. De bijbehorende kleur is die van Terra Cotta, afgeleid het vakmanschap van terracotta (“gebakken aarde”).



The correlation between trait, interaction, role and environment leads to a wide variety of niches and roles, at least in natural ecosystems. The possibility of transposing this correlation from the natural world to that of the city ecosystem, i.e. the world of organisations and society, seems obvious. In the previous section we elaborated on interactions, in this section we focus on traits, environments and roles. 

A trait or character is a feature of a component.

In natural ecosystems ‘traits play a central role, because it is the trait that determine how a species (component in our model) reacts to environmental change, and how this reaction influences ecosystem functions.” (Astor, 2011). There is a direct relation between the trait of an organisation and the effect on the system itself. That is truly an holistic essence. “In this respect functional traits can be defined as those phenotypical components of an organism that influence ecosystem properties or biogeochemical processes, and those that determine the response of an organism to environmental conditions” (Lavorel & Garnier, 2002; Hooper et al.,2005).

Behavioural ecology is the study of the evolutionary basis for animal behaviour due to ecological pressures. Behavioral ecology emerged from ethology after Niko Tinbergen outlined four questions to address when studying animal behavior which are the proximate causes, ontogeny, survival value, and phylogeny of behavior. If an organism has a trait which provides a selective advantage (i.e. has an adaptive significance) in its environment, then natural selection will favor it. Adaptive significance refers to the expression of a trait that affects fitness, measured by an individual’s reproductive success. Adaptive traits are those which produce more copies of the individual’s genes in future generations. Maladaptive traits are those which leave fewer. For example, if a bird able to call more loudly attracts more mates, then a loud call is an adaptive trait for that species because he will mate more frequently than a bird who can not call so loudly, thus sending more loud-calling genes into future generations than the soft-caller does.

Individuals are always in competition with others for limited resources, including food, territories, and mates. Conflict will occur between predators and prey, between rivals for mates, between siblings, mates, and even between parents and their offspring.

The trait: attitude towards cooperation
In the city ecosystem the trait of a component is considered to be the result of cultural factors, type of business and forms of leadership and management. This trait for an optimal development of a city ecosystem is mentioned over and over again in the extended helix concepts.

The trait has been considered as important for the greater good of local and regional development. The philosophy and the approach of the triple and quadruple helix is generally adopted as true, but it all begins with this attitude towards cooperation. The trait incorporates attitude as well as empowerment of an organisation to implement and motivate on cooperation. We developed a rate on an empirical basis from the perspective of city managers with several stages of maturity: secretive, square, delta, rolling and cooperative.

Inward-looking and operating complete independently from other components. Hard to be approached.

Working and focusing mainly on own targets, not aware of the bigger picture they can benefit from. Stiff and leaning back on cooperation.

Improving and learning organisation, more and more aware of environment and possible benefits of improving basic processes to own performance.

Cooperating and networking with main accent on self satisfaction, basic processes are good, has a good network in which it can deliver products and services on a fairly high level.

Cooperating with benefits to the max, well organised and open to cooperation. Initiating alliances and an optimal player in the bigger picture of common goals.


Astor, Tina  (2011) The importance of species traits in biodiversity-ecosystem functioning research .Department of Ecology, SLU, Uppsala Link

Alyssa R. Cirtwill, Anna Eklöf. Feeding environment and other traits shape species’ roles in marine food webs. Ecology Letters, 2018; DOI: 10.1111/ele.12955 Link

Hooper D.U., Chapin F.S., Ewel J.J., Hector A., Inchausti P., Lavorel S., Lawton J.H., Lodge D.M., Loreau M., Naeem S., Schmid B., Setala H., Symstad A.J., Vandermeer J. & Wardle D.A. (2005). Effects of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning: A consensus of current knowledge. Ecological Monographs, 75, 3‐35. 

Lavorel S. & Garnier E. (2002). Predicting changes in community composition and ecosystem functioning from plant traits: revisiting the Holy Grail. Functional Ecology, 16, 545‐556. 

Government Imperial Blue

Kruf, J.P. (2017). Government. Pantone® Imperial Blue 19-4245 TPG.

Government is a functional component by which a state, region, city or community is controlled. Government in fact is in charge of the public governance of society and the natural environment. It serves its citizens and companies. It does this through elected and governing councils with its management. Examples of governments are municipality, region, province or specific organisation.

The colour is Pantone® Imperial Blue 19-4245 TPG. It is the umbrella colour for the whole of government. It links with the Latin imperium, meaning ‘rule over large territories’. Its main task is to constitute the tasks it has been given by its citizens and act accordingly and consequently.


  • Multi-level governance: the process of connecting with higher and lower levels of society (from Europe to the street). It is a key process to travel across the borders of the different levels of the ecosystem.
  • Ordering: the process of ordering my measuring numbers, dosages and structures of the ecosystem.
  • Creation: the process of from sensing of trends, developing strategy and policy plan and implement and monitor them related to desired public value.
  • Delivery: the process of communicating with stakeholders and the acutal delivery of products and services.
  • Financial Engineering: the process of collecting and budgetting financial sources to make things possible.
  • Compliancy: the process of acting and working according the legislation and rules by checking, verifying, auditing, supervising, examining and measuring correctness.
  • Correction: the process of prompt, immediate and accurate management of crises and disasters to bring society back into balance, i.e. recovery process. These can be related to biotic factors as diseases or abiotic factors as flooding. Compared to society we can speak of rebuilding and recovering from crises and disasters.
  • Succession: in case of getting out completely out of balance there is in nature loss and a path towards a next generation. There are no recovery processes in place and the system slides into a next system level.


Kruf, J.P. (2019). Water cycle. Ecosystem City®

There are the natural cycles that flow through the streets of the city. The main are related to water, nutrients and energy. And there are man-made cycles related to the governance of the city, such as democracy, strategy and policy. They all relate to the core of public life, to resources, essentials and effects of decision making and city management. Cycles are essential in every ecosystem.

Water is the key source for life because all humans and communities need it: condensation – precipitation – collection – evaporation. Energy is key in all what we do: energy (solar) – production – fixation (plants) – consumption. Nutrient movement include that of carbon, sulfur, nitrogen, phosphorus, oxygen that continually recycle along with other mineral nutrients: production – allocation – consumption – decomposition.

Ecosystem City®

Habitats, niches and roles

What is a habitat? In natural ecosystems it can be defined as an area with uniform environmental conditions, that is inhabited by an organism or a community. It is a type of place, a biotope. It is made up of abiotic (physical) factors such as soil, moisture, range of temperature, and light intensity as well as of biotic factors such as the availability of food, culture and (in nature) the presence or absence of predators.

“A habitat is an area or region where a plant or animal naturally grows or lives,” 1762, originally a technical term in Latin texts on English flora and fauna, literally “it inhabits,” third person singular present indicative of habitare “to live, inhabit, dwell,” frequentative of habere “to have, to hold, possess”. – The Online Etymology Dictionary

Important in city governance and management is the knowledge of the construction of the web of habitats, their position and interaction as well as of the intrinsic status and working. It is good to think of the city as a set of layers, like the forest has many layers. The real wisdom is found in the knowledge how subsystems are constructed with intelligence to higher levels. Intelligence is built bottom-up. When ecologists diagnose the forest, they like to know how habitats and their communities are linked, how the layers upwards and downwards are connected and what carries the cohesion. Without this no true understanding of the system.

“Higher levels of systems contain not only its subsystems, but also the information serving to keep the subsystems together in an orderly manner: system = subsystems + cohesion.” – Roelof Oldeman (1990)

The habitat (or biotope or eco-unit) forms with food, water and shelter the the life constraints for communities and organisations within. The system has a built-up of habitats in layers. Upwards – in case of the city – it is part of higher systems as region and province, downwards most used in urban planning are the following four layers: (1) district or area (center, industrial, residential), (2) neighbourhood (3) streets and parks and ( 4) mini-habitats (homes, offices, walls).

A niche is the match of a component in an ecosystem to a specific environmental condition within that, the habitat. Here it is an organisation (in the City Ecosystem® defined as biotic component) linked with its physical and biological environment. The niche is the role the organisation has in the city. Most of the niches in modern cities are regulated, but sometimes something unexpected can happen and shake-up the existing palette. As we know, every ecosystem is in constant change. So do cities.

In principal all roles/niches can be taken by all components (i.e. organisations). Per component it though can highly differ and depend on time, place, value and related factors. Sometimes it can take more than one niches at the same time, depending of time and phase. Laws, rules, regulations and above all the Constitution has lead to a strict attribution (than in natural ecosystem) of niches in the city. A usable set can be found in the work of The Quality Institute Dutch Municipalities (KING) and is summarised by Aardema et al. (2005). It is a set of interconnected roles from governance perspective (system world) and from governed perspective (living world). Civitas Naturalis has chosen the chess pieces to symbolise the roles/niches:

Roles in the system world
Steward (black king): symbolise, identify, connect, show compassion, taking care, welcome, strengthen cohesion, carry rituals, guard. Regulator (black queen): decisiveness, power, threaten, demand, courage, persevere, set things right, constrain, discipline, set the rules and enforce them. Collector (black bishop): go-between, facilitate, contract, collect tax, process. Developer (black knight): involve, sense of community, strengthen cohesion, share and distribute, (letting) participate, co-create. Service provider (black rook): deliver, serve, provide, distribute, front office. Representative (black pawn): chosen by the people during election in councils, representing the people as citizen.

Roles in the living world
Inhabitant (white king): citizen, live in city and neighbourhood. Servant (white queen): obey and follow laws, rules, regulations. Contributor (white bishop): tax pay, contribute, donate, volunteer, support, finance, fund. Partner (white knight): develop, contribute in knowledge, feelings and insights, co-create. Client (white rook): receive products and services, indicate choice. Voter: elect the representatives, the best of the best.


Aardema, H. en A. Korsten (2005). De Staat van de Gemeente: Op weg naar een handzame, landelijke gemeentemonitor. Den Haag: VGS, BMC, PON, Open Universiteit Nederland, InAxis.

Oldeman, R.A.A. (1990). Forests: Elements of Silvology. Berlin Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.

Ecosystem City®


Example of symbiotic interaction: mutualism.

Systems are structured by countless interactions between components, which are driven by the felt or experienced degree of profit of a relation with an other component, expressed as beneficial (+), unfavourable (-) or neutral (0).  Seven types of interactions can be defined, grouped in symbiotic, oppositional and neutral.


Mutualism + +
Components benefit from each other.

Commensalism + o
One component benefits from another that is not affected.

Amensalism o –
One component inflicts harm to another without any costs or benefits received by itself.

Parasitism + –
One component, the parasite, benefits from the interaction, while the other (host) is harmed. It is a form of symbiosis which comes with a price. It actually is a predator but rather than kill quickly, it consumes its host in small pieces. Some types of parasites manage to live permanently inside their host (Wilson et al.).


Competition – –
More components compete for the same resources or between them.

Predation + –
One component hunts (being predator or herbivor) and eats the other (being prey or plant). Within one type of component it is called cannibalism.


Two components that interact but do not affect each other, where interactions are negligible or insignificant.

Ecosystem City®

Ecosystem City®

Ecosystem City. Registered at Benelux Office for Intellectual Property, in the I-Depot (number 118109) and as trademark (number 1397978) by Governance Connect (GC), on the 25th of June 2019.

Trademark Benelux Office for Intellectual Property, description: “Considering the city as an ecosystem can create a holistic perspective on city life, its environment and its governance as a whole. Applying laws of the forest to the city can share new light on public governance diagnosis.”

Ecosystem City® is a framework and toolbox for focused diagnosis of the city, this from the perspective and through the lenses of a natural forest ecosystem? It has been developed to come to an integrated determination of the topic that lies at the table, the actor and its style of approach, the value that must be delivered with the governance that is most appropriate for the object. The assumption has been made that the city fully obliges to and functions under the laws of nature.

The framework makes it possible to diagnose the present state of the city. The determinants help to create images from different but coherent perspectives. The need to be carried exclusive as well inclusive the responsible actor to get the best result. The actor (often government and politics after all is part of the system which is diagnosed.

For the diagnosis a set of 8 determinants is selected, derived from the study of forests, and curated: components, interactions, traits, roles, (a)biotic factors, processes, cycles and phases. All determinants can be measured and analysed by a combination of methods, techniques and instruments, such as there are survey, depth-interview, deskresearch or dialogue. The result is a diagnosis of the present state.

This approach of creating images has the intention to contribute to the effectiveness and implementation of public strategy and policy decisions and is aimed at good governance of the city, its citizens and the natural environment. We elaborate step by step. Last update: 19 October 2020.

1. Introduction
Zooming out & the picture
The Issue
The Need

2. Codex
Component Colour Wheel
Habitats, niches and roles
• (A)biotic factors

3. EcoCity Scan
• The Measurement Triangle

The Steward

Black king symbolising the role of government as a service provider.

A steward is someone who is responsible for the planning and management of resources, someone who takes care of an object. This focus on and attitude of responsibility is described as the ethic of ‘stewardship’.

It can be applied to the environment, economics, health, property, information, religion et cetera. Stewardship is often linked to the principles of sustainability.  Stewardship is now generally recognized as the acceptance or assignment of responsibility to shepherd and safeguard the valuables of others. (Wikipedia)

In our canvas, the logo of this role is the black king from the game of chess. The role of the inhabitant, its counterpart, is the white king.


Multi-level governance

Kruf, J.P. (2017) Multi-level governance, Codex Ecosystem City®. Breda, Governance Connect.

Multi-level governance is an approach in political science and public administration theory that originated from studies on European integration. According to Piattoni (2001), the political scientists Liesbet Hooghe and Gary Marks actually developed the concept of multi-level governance in the early 1990s.

It has become one of the key processes for good public governance in the international context. In fact, always was, but never defined or considered as such. The link between all levels of governance in every ecosystem is essential to be effective and efficient in its functioning. The layering of governance seems in general to follow the principles of the ecological pyramid in natural ecosystems, so some logic can be derived. It must be said though, that from the perspective of city management, there is a wide range of opinions, feelings, views and thoughts around it. It exists but is not generally accepted as the best way forward. What is multi-level governance?

Multi-level (or multilevel) governance is a term used to describe the way power is spread vertically between many levels of government and horizontally across multiple quasi-government and non-governmental organizations and actors.
– CAIRNEY ET AL. (2019)

This situation develops because many countries have multiple levels of government including local, regional, statenational or federal, and many other organisations with interests in policy decisions and outcomes. International governance also operates based on multi-level governance principles.

In 1996 Hooghe edited a sustained study of cohesion policy in the European Union. The central question was how policymakers can develop a common European policy, and yet give attention to the variation in practice, institutions, and players in the member states.

Later in 2001 Hooghe et al. (2001) explain why multi-level governance has taken place and how it shapes conflict in national and European political arenas and goes into the dual process of centralization and decentralization. At the same time, that authority in many policy areas has shifted to the supranational level of the European Union, so national governments have given subnational regions within countries more say over the lives of their citizens.

At the forefront of scholars who characterize this dual process as multi-level governance, Liesbet Hooghe and Gary Marks argue that its emergence in the second half of the twentieth century is a watershed in the political development of Europe. According to the authors, it gives expression to the idea that there are many interacting authority structures at work in the emergent global political economy: “… illuminates the intimate entanglement between the domestic and international levels of authority”.


Cairney, P., Heikkila, T. and Wood, Matthew (2019) Making Policy in a Complex World (1 ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hooghe, Liesbeth (ed.) (1996) Cohesion Policy and European Integration: Building Multi-level Governance. Wotton-under-Edge: Clarendon Press Oxford.

Hooghe, Liesbet and Gary Marks (2001) Multi-Level Governance and European Integration. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Piattoni, Simona (2009) Multi-level Governance: a Historical and Conceptual Analysis. European Integration. 31. 2: 163–180.