“Justice for What? Ecological (space) Justice of NbS in Cities” Our Special Session at the 58th ISOCARP World Planning Congress 2022 - in Brussels!

7 October 2022

“Justice for What? Ecological (space) Justice of NbS in Cities” Our Special Session at the 58th ISOCARP World Planning Congress 2022 - in Brussels!

On October 6, 2022, the JUSTNature project team led by Sonja Gantioler and Martina van Lierop presented the project to the community of urban planners, policymakers and people from fields of urban development at the 58th ISOCARP World Planning Congress 2022 in Brussels with ISOCARP supporting teams.

The special session named “Justice for What? Ecological (space) Justice of NbS in Cities” was inspired by the recent step of the city of Toronto to ditch the smart cities for low-key and nature-based solutions. The project kicked off a debate on whether or how to avoid the NbS movement being hijacked by the same urban planning system that has been pushing for the smart city. The debate used House of Commons techniques, which will see participants divided into two groups representing opposing aspects. The session took place in the Machine room at Maison de la Poste, where chairs were prepared into two rolls for participants to allocate their beliefs.

Motion 1: We opt for .. A. focus on smart city solutions that lead to optimized and thus fair approaches to future urban development? Or B. focus on ‘low-key’ solutions for more spontaneous and just future development? The score was finalized at 4: 11 and the debate agreed that low-key solutions have benefited from budget constraints and long-term sustainability. On the other hand, smart city solutions might provide many opportunities for a city financially, inclusively, and so on. However, it was debated that all smart devices, to some extent, cause environmental damage in electronic production processes in other parts of the world.

Motion 2: Is the core aim of implementing NbS .. A. to increase a neighborhood's health and quality of life? Or B. to increase environmental amenities of a neighborhood and property values? The score was 9: 3 because, after debating, health and quality of life were and should be the first priority of implementing Nbs and increased values being a side effect.

Motion 3: Within the concept of spatial justice, we attribute higher importance to .. A. the equal distribution of low carbon | high air quality benefits across groups with different capabilities (distributive justice)? Or B. A just procedure of how and by whom the distribution is decided (procedural justice)? The debate was intensive and going back-and-forth due to two choices holding equal importance and being inseparable. However, by the end, the majority voted more for just procedure as having higher importance, with a score of 8: 4. At the end of the session, the fruitful debate created following conversations among participants and drew interest in the JUSTNature project.

We are appreciated for being involved in the Congress, particularly, the key takeaway of the event summarized all sessions in one phrase “City cannot be healthy without reducing inequality.” This is highlighting the just transition toward low carbon cities.

Stay tuned for the next phase of the project!