Tracing and building up environmental justice considerations in the urban ecosystem service literature: A systematic review

Amalia Calderón-Argelich*, Stefania Benetti, Isabelle Anguelovski, James J.T. Connolly, Johannes Langemeyer, Francesc Baró

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


The concept of ecosystem services (ES) has mainstreamed as an interdisciplinary framework in the urban sustainability and resilience agenda. While the uptake of ES in urban areas is deeply entangled with multiple values, trade-offs, institutions, management and planning approaches, there is still a lack of a comprehensive and systematic framework to address environmental justice (EJ) in urban ES assessments. This article presents a systematic literature review to examine what factors are critical for the effective inclusion of an EJ lens in urban ES appraisals. More specifically, we assessed how distributional, procedural and recognitional EJ dimensions have been addressed, and in relation to which types of urban ES. Our results reveal that EJ considerations are currently focused on the (un)equal distribution of ES and the associated green and blue infrastructure with regard to socioeconomic groups, with special attention to income and race/ethnicity as the main mechanisms of social stratification. There is also a predominant focus on regulating and cultural ES, analyzing their role on resilience and adaptive capacity on one hand, and recreational values, social cohesion and place-making on the other. In this review, we also evaluate the interconnected dimensions of justice and their constraints, and lay out pathways for new research into intersectional and restorative approaches to justice in ES assessments. Finally, we interrogate what the role of urban ES-based planning might be in making more inclusive and just cities and explore its implications for policy and practice.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104130
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021


  • Cities
  • Environmental benefits
  • Equity
  • Green spaces
  • Trade-offs
  • Urban green infrastructure


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