Towards Just Urban Greening: Developing a diagnostic framework for collaborative urban planning as a means for just urban greening initiatives in Amsterdam
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Urban greening is a climate adaptation strategy that tackles multiple social and environmental challenges in urban areas, two important ones being heat reduction and increased social wellbeing. Because of the positive social and environmental effects, it is important that urban greening takes a just and inclusive approach, with equal decision-making processes and recognition of existing inequalities, so that everyone can reap the benefits. Collaborative urban planning (CUP) is a governance strategy that takes an inclusive approach in urban planning practices and thus has the potential of providing a just output on urban greening. This research tries to further develop theory on environmental justice and urban greening, by critically scrutinizing collaborative urban greening initiatives through an environmental justice lens, which provides insights in how recognition, procedures and distribution play out. This has been done by taking an explorative multi case study approach. First, a literature research was conducted on urban greening, environmental justice and collaborative urban planning. This resulted in the development of an analytical framework, which was applied to three collaborative urban greening initiatives throughout Amsterdam by conducting semi-structured interviews, a document analysis and observation. A diagnostic framework was then developed based on theory and enriched with empirical findings of this research, through abductive reasoning. It aims to guide a focus of inquiry towards just urban greening, by asking critical diagnosing questions. It bridges theory to practice and is meant to guide practitioners towards just urban greening. The results stress the interconnectedness of the three environmental justice dimensions and reveal some important issues. CUP enhances quality (preservation) of the green spaces and awareness on the importance of urban greening. The identity and type of stakeholders is determined by structural inequalities, and what their priorities and intentions are, is important for just procedures and outcomes. Therefore, recognition should serve as a starting point for CUP to enhance just urban greening. Additionally, institutionalization of the three interconnected environmental justice dimensions in CUP is important. This research therefore concludes that collaborative urban planning enhances just outcomes of urban greening, often through just procedures. However, there is a need for increased recognition of existing inequalities and institutionalization to further pave the way towards just urban greening.