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Nature for resilience reconfigured: global-to-local translation of frames in Africa

Rochell, Katharina; Bulkeley, Harriet; Runhaar, Hens

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Katharina Rochell

Hens Runhaar


Globally, various frames of urban nature circulate, each emphasising particular challenges and natural solutions in the climate context. Yet which actors and dynamics shape their translation to the African context remains unclear. This paper explores the global-to-local translation process of frames through interventions funded by transnational actors, conceptualised as agents of policy transfer. Critical scholarship has observed that urban adaptation and resilience interventions in Africa are often characterised as technocratic and top-down approaches, hence it is vital to understand whether these are replicated through proliferating nature-based solutions (NBSs). The study of a resilience-building intervention in Lilongwe, Malawi, reveals that transnational actors play important roles by deploying frames of urban nature through funding projects. However, rather than involving a top-down imposition of particular solutions, this sets in motion dynamics: in the competition for resources that frames generate, various actor constellations of transnational actors, subnational governments and local NGOs reconfigure or relabel strategies and associated (nature-based) practices to suit global frames and the resources they generate. This shapes who is included or not, and what kinds of NBS are being developed, for and by whom. There is a risk that priorities of communities get lost in translation.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Jan 19, 2024
Online Publication Date Feb 15, 2024
Publication Date 2024
Deposit Date Mar 21, 2024
Publicly Available Date Mar 21, 2024
Journal Buildings & Cities
Print ISSN 2632-6655
Publisher Ubiquity Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 5
Issue 1
Pages 1-15
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Published Journal Article (798 Kb)


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Copyright Statement
This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See

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