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"I don't care if they put trees on it, it's still a skyscraper" Exploring activists' dissensus against Milan's urban greening and sustainability approach

Di Paola, Lucia LU (2019) In Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science MESM02 20191
LUCSUS (Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies)
Abstract
Eco-urbanism is today’s mainstream approach to urban greening and sustainability. This approach, however, remains disconnected from issues of social justice. As a reaction, urban political ecology (UPE) argues for greater engagement with urban activists’ dissensus as a strategy to develop more just sustainable cities. Through a UPE lens, and drawing on green gentrification and right to the city theories, this thesis explores activists’ dissensus against eco-urban interventions and the “alternative” model they envision instead. I do so through a case study analysis on the conflict behind Porta Nuova: Milan’s largest re-urbanization project, characterized by the eco-urban symbols of the Vertical Forest towers and the vast Library of Trees... (More)
Eco-urbanism is today’s mainstream approach to urban greening and sustainability. This approach, however, remains disconnected from issues of social justice. As a reaction, urban political ecology (UPE) argues for greater engagement with urban activists’ dissensus as a strategy to develop more just sustainable cities. Through a UPE lens, and drawing on green gentrification and right to the city theories, this thesis explores activists’ dissensus against eco-urban interventions and the “alternative” model they envision instead. I do so through a case study analysis on the conflict behind Porta Nuova: Milan’s largest re-urbanization project, characterized by the eco-urban symbols of the Vertical Forest towers and the vast Library of Trees park.

My results show that activists frame Porta Nuova as a top-down (i.e. vertical) privatization project which led to exclusion and gentrification. They denounce Porta Nuova’s greening agenda as an expedient to hide its real unspoken agenda: (a) fulfill the exclusive (and excluding) city vision, (b) satisfy new comers and outsiders through esthetically pleasant scenarios, (c) ensure and justify profit-making. As a reaction, activists engage in dissensus-based practices which embody their alternative vision of urban greening – based on the values of democracy and inclusion.

Drawing on the activists’ dissensus, I argue that esthetically attractive green spaces are not necessarily excluding and gentrifying per se. However, these are possible outcomes when only a restricted elite assert the right to the “vertical green” city. As eco-urban spaces like Porta Nuova incorporate, perform and reproduce exclusion, activists respond with dissensus-driven alternatives which incorporate, perform and reproduce their vision of sustainable and just city and which reassert their right to the city.

Finally, my thesis highlights that there is a potential for a mutual knowledge exchange between urban movements and sustainability science. Through the creation of synergies and collaborations, together, they can create more inclusive and sustainable cities based on the needs and interests of locals. (Less)
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author
Di Paola, Lucia LU
supervisor
organization
course
MESM02 20191
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Eco-urbanism, urban political ecology, green gentrification, right to the city, urban dissensus, sustainability science, Milan
publication/series
Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science
report number
2019:024
language
English
additional info
External supervisor: Isabelle Anguelovski, director of the Barcelona Laboratory for Urban Environmental Justice and Sustainability (BCNUEJ)
id
8981811
date added to LUP
2019-06-12 13:47:37
date last changed
2019-06-12 13:47:37
@misc{8981811,
  abstract     = {Eco-urbanism is today’s mainstream approach to urban greening and sustainability. This approach, however, remains disconnected from issues of social justice. As a reaction, urban political ecology (UPE) argues for greater engagement with urban activists’ dissensus as a strategy to develop more just sustainable cities. Through a UPE lens, and drawing on green gentrification and right to the city theories, this thesis explores activists’ dissensus against eco-urban interventions and the “alternative” model they envision instead. I do so through a case study analysis on the conflict behind Porta Nuova: Milan’s largest re-urbanization project, characterized by the eco-urban symbols of the Vertical Forest towers and the vast Library of Trees park.

My results show that activists frame Porta Nuova as a top-down (i.e. vertical) privatization project which led to exclusion and gentrification. They denounce Porta Nuova’s greening agenda as an expedient to hide its real unspoken agenda: (a) fulfill the exclusive (and excluding) city vision, (b) satisfy new comers and outsiders through esthetically pleasant scenarios, (c) ensure and justify profit-making. As a reaction, activists engage in dissensus-based practices which embody their alternative vision of urban greening – based on the values of democracy and inclusion.

Drawing on the activists’ dissensus, I argue that esthetically attractive green spaces are not necessarily excluding and gentrifying per se. However, these are possible outcomes when only a restricted elite assert the right to the “vertical green” city. As eco-urban spaces like Porta Nuova incorporate, perform and reproduce exclusion, activists respond with dissensus-driven alternatives which incorporate, perform and reproduce their vision of sustainable and just city and which reassert their right to the city.

Finally, my thesis highlights that there is a potential for a mutual knowledge exchange between urban movements and sustainability science. Through the creation of synergies and collaborations, together, they can create more inclusive and sustainable cities based on the needs and interests of locals.},
  author       = {Di Paola, Lucia},
  keyword      = {Eco-urbanism,urban political ecology,green gentrification,right to the city,urban dissensus,sustainability science,Milan},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  series       = {Master Thesis Series in Environmental Studies and Sustainability Science},
  title        = {"I don't care if they put trees on it, it's still a skyscraper" Exploring activists' dissensus against Milan's urban greening and sustainability approach},
  year         = {2019},
}