Nature inclusive, but socially exclusive? Here’s how we can address Green Gentrification and the impact of greening initiatives on social equity.
Green gentrification is a phenomenon that often goes unnoticed, yet its consequences are significant. It occurs when greening spaces and sustainability efforts inadvertently lead to the displacement or exclusion of lower-income residents. It’s crucial to recognize that urban sustainability is far from neutral or apolitical — it must address both nature and social inclusivity.
In cities across the globe, the introduction of new green infrastructure has brought real estate speculation, increased property values and housing costs. As a result, gentrification has pushed out those who can no longer afford to stay in their neighbourhoods. These socially exclusive outcomes only perpetuate inequality. Green spaces can become enclaves for the affluent, with limited accessibility for lower-income communities, only making it clear that our current approach needs to change.
Green gentrification occurs when greening spaces and sustainability efforts inadvertently lead to the displacement or exclusion of lower-income residents. It’s crucial to recognize that urban sustainability is far from neutral or apolitical — it must address both nature and social inclusivity.
Now, don’t get me wrong – our cities need more green infrastructure. Trees, parks, shaded areas, and clean mobility to tackle the climate crisis and increasing temperatures and air pollution. It’s HOW we address this that needs to change. We need solutions that don’t negatively impact the existing and low-income residents’ financial situations and their ability to live, and thrive, in their neighbourhoods.
It means that we need to couple green initiatives with mixed-income developments and affordable housing. Think proactive measures like community land trusts and inclusionary zoning and land-use policies that limit the conversion of existing affordable housing into high-end or luxury real estate. This ensures that new green infrastructure benefits all members of the community, regardless of their socioeconomic status.
For a truly sustainable future, we must embrace both nature and social inclusivity. The ultimate goal goes beyond green; it’s about creating healthy cities that benefit flora and fauna while fostering thriving, equitable communities.
Genuine engagement and input from the local community are vital to ensure new green infrastructure is accessible and meets their needs. Input must be sought during the planning and design process, together with maintenance and programming being tailored to the community’s needs and interests. Additionally, maintenance and programming should be tailored to the community, ensuring that the green spaces truly serve their intended purpose.
Equitable funding mechanisms are essential to mitigating the cost burden on lower-income residents. By implementing measures like right to return and rental assistance, we can prevent displacement and ensure that individuals have the means to remain in their communities.
For a truly sustainable future, let’s embrace nature and social inclusivity hand in hand. The ultimate goal goes beyond green; it’s about creating healthy cities that benefit flora and fauna while fostering thriving, equitable communities. Agree?