Stop the effects of the climate and biodiversity crises with the application of measures that promote a “fair renaturalization“of the cities with policies that protect the right to housing and that do not generate the expulsion of citizens from their neighborhoods. This is the proposal that the Friends of the Earth association and the Federation of Consumers and Users, CECU, have included in the report entitled ‘Right to nature, right to the city’

“We warn of the situation of vulnerability to which a large part of the population in lower-income neighborhoods is subjected when creating green areaswhich can lead to eviction from their homes if housing protection policies are not implemented, especially in the context of climate change“, point out the authors of the study.

The report shows the “great urban injustices“existing and their relationship with nature, and proposes”urgent measures” to address both issues through public politics. At the same time, it compiles different representations of the Social inequality in the city and its relationship with nature.

The measures proposed in the document aim combine access to decent housing and the right to green spaces. “Every day it is more urgent to take effective measures to curb the worst effects of the climate and biodiversity crisis“say Friends of the Earth and CECU.

They highlight that High temperatures cause more than 4,600 deaths a year in Spain alone. In this sense, they point out that cities are a “key space for action.” Although they only occupy 2% of the Earth’s surface, they bring together more than half of the population and are responsible for 70% of greenhouse gas emissions.

Right to nature

The renaturalization of cities is “one of the measures that can favor both the adaptation as the climate change mitigation“. Because urban green areas allow “the local reduction of temperaturesin addition to generating meeting and leisure spaces and improving people’s health, both physical and mental.”

Despite the importance of nature for human life, the authors of the study see “large differences in access to green areas due to income issueswhich must be corrected immediately.

“To our concern about the lack of ambitious plans to renaturalize cities, we add the negative effects that these projects can have due to the increase in housing prices, closely related to the ‘green gentrification‘(urban areas that are ‘pacified’ and filled with parks suffer a rise in prices), which destroys neighborhood networks and deprives citizens of the right to nature,” say Friends of the Earth and CECU.

View of Barcelona

Control rental prices and protect access to housing are, in his opinion, “essential mechanisms” to guarantee that “the necessary implementation of renaturalization projects is carried out without leaving anyone behind.”

The organizations that authored the report detail a series of emergency measures, for which it is necessary to have joint work between all administrations, based on two key criteria: “On the one hand, achieve an implementation of urban renaturalization by 2030 that allows meet the criteria established by the World Health Organization (at least 30% vegetation cover and that all homes are located a maximum of 300 meters from a green area), and on the other hand ensure the right to natureso that renaturalization projects do not contribute to real estate speculation“.

Community Climate Shelters

To achieve these objectives, Friends of the Earth and CEC consider several “key measures” necessary, from regulate the rental price and limit the expansion of tourist flatsto the ban on felling mature trees in good conditionpassing through the construction and recognition of community climate shelters.

Other measures proposed in the report are: ensure the maintenance of the tree pits over time, guaranteeing that all of them are being occupied by trees in good condition; purgently promote the development of Urban Greening Plans in cities with more than 20,000 inhabitants; and balance the number of green areas by neighborhoodsensuring greater development in areas with lower per capita income.

Further: balance municipal maintenance and gardening devices between higher and lower income areasprioritizing lower-income areas as a measure of reparation for the most vulnerable; promote urban and peri-urban agriculture initiatives; and recognize and enhance community initiatives already existing (self-managed parks, neighborhood gardens, etc.) as environmental commons.

Orchards in Valencia.  EFE: Manuel Bruque

They also propose regulate the rental price in a real and effective way throughout Spainand prohibit evictions without housing alternative; urgently intervene in the tourist rental market for the destruction of community structures that it generates; fiscally penalize empty housingestablishing channels to facilitate their putting into social rent; and generate a moratorium on urban growth in cities as long as the percentage of housing in use is less than 90%.

“Friends of the Earth and CECU urge public administrations to take these measures into account, and put them into practice urgently, at a key moment to guarantee adaptation to climate change and ensure access to housing,” they state.

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