From landscapes of utopia to the margins of the green urban life: For whom is the new green city?

Isabelle Anguelovski*, James Connolly, Anna Livia Brand

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Other contribution

100 Citations (Scopus)


Today, municipal decision-makers, planners, and investors rely on valuation studies of ecosystem services, public health assessments, and real estate projections to promote a consensual view of urban greening interventions such as new parks, greenways, or greenbelts as a public good with widespread benefits for all residents. However, as new green projects often anchor major investment and high-end development, we ask: Does the green city fulfil its promise for inclusive and far-reaching environmental, health, social, and economic benefits or does it create new environmental inequalities and green mirages? Through case examples of diverse urban greening interventions in cities reflecting different urban development trajectories and baseline environmental conditions and needs (Barcelona, Medellin, and New Orleans), we argue that urban greening interventions increasingly create new dynamics of exclusion, polarization, segregation, and invisibilization. Despite claims about the public good, these interventions take place to the detriment of the most socially and racially marginalized urban groups whose land and landscapes are appropriated through the creation of a ‘green gap’ in property markets. In that sense, green amenities become GreenLULUs (Locally Unwanted Land Uses) and socially vulnerable residents and community groups face a green space paradox, whereby they become excluded from new green amenities they long fought for as part of an environmental justice agenda. Thus, as urban greening consolidates urban sustainability and redevelopment strategies by bringing together private and public investors around a tool for marketing cities with global reach, it also negates a deeper reflection on urban segregation, social hierarchies, racial inequalities, and green privilege.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2018

Publication series

PublisherTaylor and Francis Ltd.
ISSN (Print)1360-4813


  • cities
  • environmental justice
  • green
  • green gentrification
  • inequality
  • sustainability
  • urban environmentalism


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