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ICTA-UAB researcher Antoni Rosell-Melé receives an ERC Advanced Grant

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EEI SEMINAR: “Nature-based solutions as discursive tools and contested practices in urban nature’s neoliberalisation processes” by Panagiota Kotsila

Date: 2019-05-08

EEI SEMINAR: “Nature-based solutions as discursive tools and contested practices in urban nature’s neoliberalisation processes”

Speaker: Panagiota Kotsila, ICTA-UAB

Moderator: Isabelle Anguelovski, ICTA-UAB


Day: Wednesday, 8th May
Time: 12.30h
Room: Z/023


‘Nature-based solutions’ (NBS) is the new jargon used to promote ideas of urban sustainability, gaining traction in both academic and policy circles, particularly taken up within the EU. This paper analyses the emergence of the NBS concept and the false assumptions it embraces, examining how this creates an inviting space for nature’s neoliberalisation(s). Concepts such as NBS stem mainly from positivist traditions of the natural sciences and are easily adapted to serve distinct agendas, neoliberalism being a frequent one. Our empirical analysis is based on qualitative research in two city-initiated NBS projects in Barcelona, Spain. Namely, the green corridor of Sant Joan Avenue, and the community garden of EspaiGermanetes supported under the municipal PlaBuits scheme. Through a political ecology lens, we trace how the old contradictions and ambiguities embedded in the ‘triple bottom line’ of economic, environmental and social sustainability manifest in contemporary practice. We observe how urban nature becomes an asset for elite players in the economy, often at the expense of widespread socio-ecological benefits, and how citizens are encouraged to take responsibility for sustaining public urban nature, although access for them is not guaranteed over time. The promotion of NBS, we claim, reflects strong neoliberalisation tendencies in environmental/sustainability discourse and practice and can serve to solidify them if those remain uncontested in society.

Panagiota Kotsila is a postdoctoral researcher at ICTA-UAB and the Barcelona Lab for Urban Environmental Justice and Sustainability (BCNUEJ). She has been part of the ENTITLE (H2020-ITN) where she carried out research on political ecology with a focus on public health and biopolitics. Her background is in biology and she holds a doctorate degree in development studies from the Center for Development Studies (ZEF, University of Bonn, Germany). She has conducted empirical work in Vietnam, Cyprus, Greece, Ireland and Spain. The research she will be presenting today builds on her work within the NATURVATION project on the governance ofurban nature(s). Currently she is leading research on urban justice and sustainability, as part of the URBANA project.


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