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Are green cities healthy and equitable? Unpacking the relationship between health, green space and gentrification
  1. Helen V S Cole1,
  2. Melisa Garcia Lamarca1,
  3. James J T Connolly1,
  4. Isabelle Anguelovski1,2
  1. 1 Barcelona Lab for Urban Environmental Justice and Sustainability, Institut Hospital del Mar d’Investigacions Mèdiques and Institut de Ciѐncia i Tecnologia Ambientals, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  2. 2 Institucio Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avancats, Barcelona, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Dr Helen V S Cole, Institut Hospital del Mar d’Investigacions Mediques, Dr. Aiguader, 88, Barcelona 08003, Spain; hvscole{at}, helen.cole{at}


While access and exposure to green spaces has been shown to be beneficial for the health of urban residents, interventions focused on augmenting such access may also catalyse gentrification processes, also known as green gentrification. Drawing from the fields of public health, urban planning and environmental justice, we argue that public health and epidemiology researchers should rely on a more dynamic model of community that accounts for the potential unintended social consequences of upstream health interventions. In our example of green gentrification, the health benefits of greening can only be fully understood relative to the social and political environments in which inequities persist. We point to two key questions regarding the health benefits of newly added green space: Who benefits in the short and long term from greening interventions in lower income or minority neighbourhoods undergoing processes of revitalisation? And, can green cities be both healthy and just? We propose the Green Gentrification and Health Equity model which provides a framework for understanding and testing whether gentrification associated with green space may modify the effect of exposure to green space on health.

  • health inequalities
  • environmental health
  • health promotion

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  • Contributors All authors contributed to the conceptual framework of the paper. HC wrote the first draft and refined the manuscript. IA, JC and MGL provided substantive feedback and edits.

  • Funding This paper was supported by funding from ERC Grant Agreement 678034.

  • Competing interests None declared

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.