Upscaling nature based solutions in cities: opportunities and challenges for sustainable urban transformations

Authors: Chiara Farné Fratini*, Aalborg University, Morten Elle, Aalborg University , Jenny Lieu, ETH Zurich, Jonathan Dolley, University of Sussex, Fiona Marshall, University of Sussex
Topics: Urban Geography, Environment, Sustainability Science
Keywords: Nature Based Solution, Gentrification, Pathways to Sustainability, Urban Political Ecology, Spatial Management, Environmental Justice
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Washington 3, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper discusses the potentials and challenges of upscaling of nature based solutions (NBS) in cities to mediate urban sustainability pathways. Such pathways are seen as self-reinforcing trajectories of change resulting in increased environmental integrity and social justice. Nature based solutions are defined as solutions that are inspired and supported by nature, which are cost-effective, simultaneously provide environmental, social and economic benefits and help build resilience. Studies have shown how natural elements in cities have impacts on urban resilience and quality of life, and contribute to increase environmental awareness among citizens and social satisfaction over public services. However, the implementation of NBS can also contribute to processes of gentrification, in which prior residents, often economically vulnerable minorities, are being displaced due to rising house prices and cost of living. The unequal distribution of green spaces has also been correlated to social stratification and inequalities in cities. The city of Copenhagen is today facing these contradictions: on the one hand the climate agenda drives private and public investments on green transformations of urban systems and structures with NBS playing a crucial role; on the other hand, the city has undergone extensive urban renewal in previous decades contributing to increasingly unequal distribution of wealth and quality of life across the city. This paper explores the spatial dialectics associated with environmental and socio-economic changes, by demonstrating the dialectical linkages between notions of justice and nature in processes of urban transformations.

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