The Democracy of Green Infrastructure: Some Examples from Brazil and Europe

  • S. CaputoEmail author
  • V. Donoso
  • Fabiana Izaga
  • P. Britto
Part of the Cities and Nature book series (CITIES)


With the understanding of nature in terms of ecosystem services and the recognition of the vital role these play for human well-being (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005), the value of the natural realm is scientifically and socially defined while at the same time institutionalized. Within this frame of interpretation, nature is a supplier of provisioning, regulating and cultural services, thus becoming not only a life-enabling factor for humanity but also a conceptual construct comparable to cornerstones of democracy, such as equality, freedom, and citizenship. The idea of green infrastructure is another recently coined term envisioning nature in cities in the form of a network and enabling a broad life-furthering vision of society. Standards for green open spaces embedded in some planning frameworks further state the right for all to a common good. Yet, evidence shows that this common right is not always met. Within the current context of advanced and neoliberal capitalism, green areas are sometimes used as an added financial value for real estate, thus increasing restrictions to their free access and full utilization. In developing countries with young democracies, such as Brazil, this process implies another significant factor of social inequality insofar the restricted access to nature by the poorest people means also diminished food safety and the jeopardizing of certain cultural practices. In developed countries, loss of land for food production and movements reclaiming the right to the city by squatting unoccupied open spaces to initiate community gardens demonstrates that the access to green spaces is also problematic, although in different ways if compared to developing countries. This chapter contributes to this topic by discussing the inequality in the provision of green spaces in informal settlements and social housing development in Brazil, as well as in the globalized north. The chapter concludes with recommendations to enhance democracy through a just provision of nature in cities.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. Caputo
    • 1
    Email author
  • V. Donoso
    • 2
  • Fabiana Izaga
    • 3
  • P. Britto
    • 4
  1. 1.School of ArchitectureUniversity of PortsmouthPortsmouthUK
  2. 2.Department of Architecture and Urbanism in Cachoeira do Sul CampusFederal University of Santa Maria—UFSMSanta MariaBrazil
  3. 3.Graduate Program on Urbanism PROURBFederal University of Rio de Janeiro UFRJRio de JaneiroBrazil
  4. 4.School of ArchitectureFederal University of GoiásGoiâniaBrazil

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