Pluralizing environmental values for urban planning: how to uncover the diversity of imaginaries about socio-natures from Vitoria-Gasteiz (Basque Country, Spain).

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

Neidig, J. & Anguelovski, I. & Lliso, B. & Pascual, U.
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Cities have pushed forward re-naturing initiatives in local planning agendas. Discourses and rationales for such interventions tend to follow instrumental framings often narrowed down to the economic, health and ecological benefits of nature's contributions to people (NCP). Yet, diverse urban residents often connect to other socio-nature framings that are associated with a plurality of values held for nature, including relational, intrinsic, and instrumental values. Focusing mostly on urban NCP, we used Q-methodology to explore the perspectives and expressions of urban residents' diversity of values for urban greenery and broader human-nature relationships. We explore the role of both instrumental and relational values, as well as certain potential disvalues of urban NCP. In light of the recent IPBES values assessment (IPBES, 2022) we follow a call for empirical studies and methodologies to explore, elicit and visibilize plural values about nature. We base our study in the Basque city of Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain (2012 European Green Capital) where we identify four distinct perspectives, all of which relate to a diversity of values about urban nature. Urban residents mostly perceive positive values for NCP as directly connected to their wellbeing. Yet, NCP that impact social bonds within their social community, expressed for instance through community-related values, are perceived differently across the four perspectives. We conclude that planners and decision-makers should pay scrutiny to include the four, partly differing, perspectives about the plural values of (urban) NCP in policymaking processes to assure just and inclusive outcomes. Here, intersectional and participatory approaches are needed beyond dominating framings of NCPs and related values, especially those that can take into account the needs and preferences of marginalized social groups. Special emphasis should be put on integrating relational values as nourishing such values through planning can play an important role in creating place-rooted connections with local urban landscapes and the community.

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