Reframing Urban Nature-Based Solutions Through Perspectives of Environmental Justice and Privilege

Open Access Journal | ISSN: 2183-7635

Review | Open Access | Ahead of Print | Last Modified: 25 November 2022

Reframing Urban Nature-Based Solutions Through Perspectives of Environmental Justice and Privilege


  • Willi Bauer Department of Geography, University of Erlangen‐Nuremberg, Germany


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Abstract:  Since its introduction, the concept of “nature-based solutions” has gained much attention, drawing public funds and private investments. Nature-based solutions conceptualise the use of nature in planning as a cost-efficient and sustainable means to address societal, economic, and ecological challenges. However, this “triple win” premise tends to conceal potentially resulting injustices, such as displacement through green gentrification. While these injustices have attracted the attention of environmental justice scholars, as exemplified by the “just green enough” approach, links to the “nature-based solutions” concept are mostly implicit. Further, the concept of environmental privilege, questioning who benefits from created natural amenities, has rarely been taken up. This article, therefore, argues that environmental justice should be linked closely to nature-based solutions. Supported by a theoretical perspective, the article aims at exploring who benefits from, and who loses out on, urban nature-based solutions processes. It builds on a qualitative literature review of the scholarly landscape on environmental justice and urban greening while linking to nature-based solutions, adding perspectives of environmental privilege. In this, it attempts to offer three important contributions to the current academic discussion. First, the article provides an overview of the debate on urban greening, (in)justice, and environmental privilege. Second, it relates the concept of nature-based solutions to the debate on environmental justice, opening nature-based solutions up for critique and conceptual refinements. Third, it outlines a way forward for reframing nature-based solutions through the lens of environmental justice and privilege. Thus, this article provides a starting point for further discussions on the implementation of just nature-based solutions in cities.

Keywords:  environmental justice; environmental privilege; Global North; green gentrification; just cities; nature-based solutions

Published:   Ahead of Print

Issue:   Social Justice in the Green City (Forthcoming)

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17645/up.v8i1.6018


© Willi Bauer. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.