Urban greening : A new paradox of economic or social sustainability?

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Article number104487
Journal / PublicationLand Use Policy
Online published29 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020


Cities globally have incorporated sustainable development into their planning, and led the way in responding to the world’s ecological crisis by “going green”. Urban green space accessibility is considered as the key to urban sustainability progress, not only environmentally, but also economically and socially. However, previous research rarely considers the latter two dimensions together. This study therefore joins the sustainability discussion from a new perspective, in particular the debate concerning the value of urban green spaces and whether and how they contribute to the variegated sustainability agenda? Based on data for 76,595 residential housing units in New York City, measuring the economic gains and equity losses from current urban green space accessibility reveals a paradox in sustainable development where the economic and social benefits of urban green space accessibility are seldom compatible, tending to involve a trade-off of some kind. In response, it is proposed that the spatial patterns of land use can represent a step towards multifaceted aspects of sustainability, with the provision of numerous small green areas that are “affordable and accessible” throughout the city being a more appropriate policy agenda than a few vast parks. Such a policy approach, it is argued, will provide a ‘win-win’ situation in terms of simultaneously contributing to both economic prosperity and the social justice of sustainability. This research also provided evidence for the institutional-driven countries such as China on how to learn from western experiences on planning land use patterns that are sustainable for individuals.

Research Area(s)

  • Urban green space, Variegated sustainability economic, Social equity, Spatial patterns, New York City