A multidisciplinary approach to analyzing questions of justice issues in urban greenspace

Adriana A. Zuniga-Teran, Andrea K. Gerlak

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Greenspace can alleviate many of the negative effects of urbanization and help enhance human well-being yet, in most cities in the world, greenspace is inequitably distributed. In western societies, wealthy white neighborhoods typically have more access to greenspace, constituting an environmental and social justice issue. Although scholars from multiple disciplines and academic domains study questions of justice in greenspace, the scholarship remains fragmented. The purpose of this qualitative review is to explore the diverse disciplinary approaches to justice in urban greenspace to identify patterns and trends in how justice is conceptualized and realized. We analyze a set of case studies across multiple disciplines using a sample of 21 peer-reviewed articles following the framework set out by Bulkeley and colleagues that conceptualizes justice according to recognition, distribution, procedures, rights, and responsibilities. Our results suggest that the various solutions proposed in the diverse streams of scholarship often call for solutions that transcend individual disciplinary boundaries. This finding supports the need for collaborative and cross-disciplinary work to effectively address injustice in urban greenspace. In an effort to integrate findings, we identify five main objectives that need to be addressed by scholars, built environment practitioners, and policymakers, which include: (1) appropriate funding mechanisms for long-term maintenance; (2) recognition of safety concerns; (3) connectivity of greenspace; (4) multifunctionality in greenspace design; and (5) community engagement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3055
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019


  • Community engagement
  • Environmental justice
  • Green infrastructure
  • Greenspace
  • Urban resilience

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Building and Construction
  • Environmental Science (miscellaneous)
  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Hardware and Architecture
  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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