Centring justice in conceptualizing and improving access to urban nature.

Published online
06 Sep 2023
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
People and Nature

Langhans, K. E. & Echeverri, A. & Daws, S. C. & Moss, S. N. & Anderson, C. B. & Chaplin-Kramer, R. & Hendershot, J. N. & Liu, L. & Mandle, L. & Nguyen, O. & Ou, S. X. & Remme, R. P. & Schmitt, R. J. P. & Vogl, A. & Daily, G. C.
Contact email(s)
langhans@stanford.edu & ale.echeverri@stanford.edu

Publication language


As humanity has become increasingly urban, a growing number of people have been deprived of access to nature and the benefits it provides. This is especially true for marginalized groups, who often live in neighbourhoods where nature has been so diminished and degraded that it provides fewer types, and much lower levels of benefits. We review the literatures on human-nature relationships, urban sustainability and justice to create an actionable definition of 'access to nature' that people can use to advocate for and guide investments that improve access to nature in urban contexts. We show how the interplay of three dimensions of justice-recognitional, procedural and distributional-determines access to nature in cities, and how these dimensions are core to increasing access to urban nature. We present a design thinking framework that centres justice in creating interventions for access to nature, together with questions that can guide the process of designing and implementing new interventions. Lastly, we illustrate how our framework can be operationalized by showcasing three case studies that improve access to nature to marginalized communities in the United States: Latino Outdoors, Sogorea Te' Land Trust and the Nature Imagery in Prisons Project. We conclude by re-affirming the importance of centring justice in improving access to nature, so that all people can enjoy the benefits that nature provides and lead healthy, fulfilling lives.

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