This project examines the role that the restoration and creation of recreational green areas has on the quality of urban life. As there have been no large-scale studies measuring whether cities with more green spaces are less egalitarian with regard to racial and social questions, it will be studied if green projects tend to increase environmental inequalities in 40 cities in the USA and Europe, and under which circumstances such projects can address inequality issues.
Primarily, the study a) will develop a new method (and index) for quantifying the racial and social impact of environmental projects and to compare the performance of the cities; b) provide a quantitative special analysis of the neighbourhood demography, real estate and environmental data; and c) use the methodology of the index for a unique selection of the cities. Secondly, my research will analyse the response of private investors to green projects and identify the impact that they have on new development projects (that have been proposed, approved and carried out during the implementation, or after completion, of the green projects) on the socio-economic characteristics of a neighbourhood. Similarly, the extent to which development programmes can contribute to, and/or accelerate, the gentrification process, given that it has been demonstrated that these types of projects are indicators of citizen exclusion, will be assessed.
Additionally, this study will provide a quantitative analysis of cases of community mobilisation that have arisen in response to new recreational green areas, through fieldwork in 16 critical neighbourhoods (one case per neighbourhood in each city) across the 40 cities. Finally, qualitative methods will be used to analyse the policies and measures developed by the districts to address exclusion in neighbourhoods in the process of creating green areas. This innovative, longitudinal, systematic and large-scale project in the field of environmental justice is expected to lead to a paradigm shift after presenting the hypothesis that social and racial injustices present in sustainability projects convert green zones into Locally Unwanted Land Uses (LULUs ) by poor community members and minorities.