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Legacies, uncertainties and ownership: green infrastructure as practice in Johannesburg, South Africa

Bobbins, Kerry Leigh; (2021) Legacies, uncertainties and ownership: green infrastructure as practice in Johannesburg, South Africa. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London).

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Abstract

Green infrastructure has emerged as a promising concept for urban development, where policymakers consider it to offer a range of benefits for the economy, society and the environment. While literature tends to illuminate its many benefits for urban development in measured scientific and financial terms to support a policy rhetoric, less is known about how green infrastructure concepts are used in practice. I contend that green infrastructure comes to exist in practice as part of a social process, where project level actors such as government officials, private sector professionals and members of civil society negotiate its many meanings in response to their interests, local context and historic setting. To explore how green infrastructure evolves as part of a social process, I develop a practice theory approach to investigate how they are conceptualised in Johannesburg, South Africa. I used an abductive research design to explore how 74 participants conceptualise green infrastructure in Johannesburg. I gathered their accounts using in-depth interviews at the city level, before focusing on Bruma Lake and Paterson Park, which were identified as two striking examples of green infrastructure projects. At both projects, a form of green infrastructure called river renaturalisation was used to address water pollution (Bruma Lake) and flooding concerns (Paterson Park). Exploring these two projects in more detail enabled me to illuminate how green infrastructure was conceptualised as part of a social process, where participants drew on the concept in a variety of ways at different points in time. Findings reveal that green infrastructure concepts were practiced through participants’ activities to leave a manageable and viable legacy. Interests to leave a legacy brought actors together where it encouraged them to carry out activities to claim ownership to manage the uncertainties they faced around the future of the project sites, technical parameters of the projects and civil society interests. Green infrastructure, therefore, became what actors claimed ownership of and which uncertainties they could manage at the project sites. By carrying out activities to leave a legacy, participants (re)conceptualised the meanings of green infrastructure over time, where they could be held individually or shared among participants.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Legacies, uncertainties and ownership: green infrastructure as practice in Johannesburg, South Africa
Event: UCL (University College London)
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request. - Some third party copyright material has been removed from this e-thesis.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > Development Planning Unit
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10127573
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