Supported by a large body of scholarship, it is increasingly orthodox practice for cities to deploy urban greening interventions to address diverse socioenvironmental challenges, from protecting urban ecosystems to enhancing built environments and climate resilience or improving health outcomes. In this article, we expand the theoretical boundaries used to challenge this growing orthodoxy by laying out a nuanced framework that advances critical urban environmental justice scholarship. Beginning from the now well-supported assumption that urban greening is a deeply political project often framed by technocratic principles and promotional claims that this project will result in more just and prosperous cities, we identify existing contributions and limits when examining urban green inequities through the traditional lenses of distributional, recognition, and procedural justice. We then advocate for and lay out a different analytical framework for analyzing justice in urban greening. We argue that new research must uncover how persistent domination and subordination prevent green interventions from becoming an emancipatory antisubordination, intersectional, and relational project that considers the needs, identities, and everyday lives of marginalized groups. Finally, we illustrate our framework’s usefulness by applying it to the analysis of urban residents’ (lack of) access to urban greening and by operationalizing it for two different planning and policy domains: (1) greening for well-being, care, and health and (2) greening for recreation and play. This final analysis serves to provide critical questions and strategies that can hopefully guide new urban green planning and practice approaches.
- critical environmental justice
- emancipatory greening
- green infrastructure
- nature in the city
- urban greening