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Different shades of green: how transnational actors frame nature as a solution to sustainability challenges in African cities

Rochell, Katharina; Bulkeley, Harriet; Runhaar, Hens

Different shades of green: how transnational actors frame nature as a solution to sustainability challenges in African cities Thumbnail


Katharina Rochell

Hens Runhaar


Nature – based solutions (NBS) are increasingly being positioned within global discourses concerning how urban sustainability challenges can be addressed. To better understand to what extent, how, by whom and with what potential implications NBS are promoted in urban Africa, this paper focuses on transnational actors and presents a dataset covering 40 NBS initiatives in 57 cities across 19 African countries. A framing analysis is undertaken to understand to what degree NBS are mobilised in accordance with global discourses. To that end, the paper builds on existing work by Tozer et al. (2022, “Transnational Governance and the Urban Politics of Nature-Based Solutions for Climate Change.” Global Environmental Politics, 1–23) on globally circulating frames of urban nature. In further contributing to their framework, we delve into the underlying values or shades of green that are being signified through the frames by applying the IPBES Nature Futures Framework. Results indicate that urban nature comes to be seen as a solution within a climate resilience – integrated benefits nexus through which various types of transnational actors are bringing nature into the city. Two important findings can be highlighted: First, the deployed frames offer opportunities to address major African urban sustainability challenges, but initiatives may not yet be configured to adequately address their scope and magnitude. Second, the configurations of frames are predominantly informed by instrumental values that put "Nature for Society” perspectives in focus, missing opportunities for NBS to build on relational values, or “Nature as Culture” perspectives and for accommodating a plurality of worldviews on desirable futures for urban nature.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 23, 2024
Online Publication Date Jun 12, 2024
Publication Date Jun 12, 2024
Deposit Date Jul 2, 2024
Publicly Available Date Jul 2, 2024
Journal Local Environment
Print ISSN 1354-9839
Electronic ISSN 1469-6711
Publisher Taylor and Francis Group
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 1-17
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Published Journal Article (Advance Online Version) (1 Mb)


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Copyright Statement
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent.

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