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The social impact of green urban renewal in two European capital cities: Copenhagen and Vienna in comparison




Cucca, Roberta, author

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The need for more sustainable cities is a key point of the EU Urban Agenda. Although the attention to social inclusion, especially in the most deprived urban areas, is an important pillar of this strategy, a clear evaluation of the social impacts of sustainability programs in EU Cities is however still missing. This paper aims to fill this gap, by analyzing, in comparative perspective, the social impacts of green renewal in Europe. By selecting as case studies Vienna and Copenhagen and implementing a mixed method approach to empirical investigation (quantitative data gathering; interviews with key informants in cities; ethnographic research in areas of the cities affected by green urban renewal and programs for sustainability; comparative analysis of data and information) the research identifies intended and unintended impacts of these strategies in terms of social and spatial inequality among social groups. The main communalities between Vienna and Copenhagen are the strong promotion of strategies of green urban renewal as asset for attractivity and demographic growth (inner-districts green renewal, waterfront redevelopment, new eco-districts). The most important differences are related to the affordability of the housing market resulting from the implementation of such strategies, a factor that plays a huge role in fostering or containing social and spatial inequalities in contemporary Green European cities.


Presented at the Environmental justice in the Anthropocene symposium held on April 24-25, 2017 at the Lory Student Center, Colorado State University, Fort Collins Colorado. This symposium aims to bring together academics (faculty and graduate students), independent researchers, community and movement activists, and regulatory and policy practitioners from across disciplines, research areas, perspectives, and different countries. Our overarching goal is to build on several decades of EJ research and practice to address the seemingly intractable environmental and ecological problems of this unfolding era. How can we explore EJ amongst humans and between nature and humans, within and across generations, in an age when humans dominate the landscape? How can we better understand collective human dominance without obscuring continuing power differentials and inequities within and between human societies? What institutional and governance innovations can we adopt to address existing challenges and to promote just transitions and futures?

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urban environment
social inclusiveness
green urban renewal


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