Added Value: Nature as a “Good” in Cities

Authors: Hillary Angelo*, University of California Santa Cruz
Topics: Cultural Geography, Urban Geography
Keywords: urban greening, urban nature, urban sustainability planning
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Washington 3, Marriott, Exhibition Level
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In an era of global ecological crisis, sustainable cities have become new paragons of ideal urbanism, and the idea of nature” as a “good” in cities is ubiquitous. As current scholarship on urban greening and urban sustainability has shown, nature's social and economic “added value” significantly affects the political economy of contemporary greening—e.g., by increasing property values—producing inequalities in access to urban nature, and often undermining these projects' ecological goals. In spite of these unequal effects, I find that in urban practice, shared beliefs in nature’s universal benefit condition urban greening projects to be carried out and received as universally beneficial investments in the public good. The paper explores this dynamic and its consequences through an analysis of 250 California cities’ Climate Action Plans, in which parks and green spaces frequently appear as popular, uncontentious, and desirable "quality of life" investments in answer to deeper social equity concerns.

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