Installation and maintenance of green infrastructure may involve high costs, which communities may not be able or willing to pay. Additionally, while upgrading and expanding inner forests can benefit some residents by increasing real estate prices, “green gentrification” may unintentionally outprice low-income residents and businesses.13

Depending on the context, cities can address these issues through interventions such as:

  • Engaging low-income residents in the design of the projects to cater to their needs and preferences.
  • Identifying and responding to the needs of underserved communities, for instance, by creating employment opportunities and affordable housing for low-income residents. This may lead to additional socioeconomic benefits, such as in the case of eThekwini Municipality’s restoration project at Buffelsdraai in South Africa, where local impoverished communities benefitted from improved schooling, transport, and food supply in the first two years of the project.
  • Calculating costs and benefits to all groups involved, especially low-income populations.
  • Conducting negotiations for compensating the cost-bearers or subsidizing their economic burden.

C40’s Roadmap for Inclusive Planning sheds light on other key affordability and equity challenges to urban green infrastructure.

Following the redevelopment of the High Line in New York City, housing prices climbed by 103 percent between 2003 and 2011—even during a period of economic downturn.32 Photo: Allison Meier, Flickr.

Washington D.C.’s 11th Street Bridge Park Project, scheduled to be completed in 2023, set up a community land trust, made affordable housing investments, and prioritized training and park jobs for low-income residents. One million U.S. dollars have also been earmarked for small business development, including for micro-loans and technical assistance. Image: Urban Institute.

In Seoul, South Korea, the ecological restoration of the Cheonggyecheon Waterway led to an increase in property values and shift in land use from industrial to commercial, serving more affluent stakeholders.32 Cheonggyecheon Waterway, Seoul. Photo: Kaizer Rangwala, Flickr.


Roadmap for Inclusive Planning | C40, 2019

Investing in Equitable Urban Park Systems | Urban Institute, 2019

Pathway to Parks & Affordable Housing Joint Development | LA THRIVES and Los Angeles Regional Open Space and Affordable Housing (LAROSAH), n.d.