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The more-than-human politics of cities: Multi-species policy futures and nature-based solutions

Cecily Maller (RMIT University’s School of Global, Urban and Social Studies in Melbourne, Australia)


This paper begins from the standpoint that nature-based solutions must help conceptualize cities as places for more than just people; in other words, cities should be thought of, and governed, as ‘more-than-human habitats’ where multiple species, including but not limited to humans, are encouraged to flourish. Although cities were once considered ‘biodiversity wastelands’, they are increasingly now recognized as important habitat. For example, in Australia, regions of Perth, Melbourne and Brisbane are now known as ‘biodiversity hotspots’. Cities are also being found to be crucial for threatened species, such that urban areas are of greater importance for conservation than non-urban areas. Keeping these developments in mind, the paper provides an outline of the more-than-human thinking and theories that have arisen in several disciplines and how they can be used to reshape nature-based solutions towards a greater appreciation of the non-human species – or the various publics and their politics – in cities. In doing so, the paper aims to encourage policymakers, planners and researchers to experiment with more inclusive, and potentially more effective, multispecies’ nature-based solutions to help overcome human-centeredness and to reconceptualise cities as more-than-human habitat. 

Dr Cecily Maller is an Associate Professor at RMIT University’s School of Global, Urban and Social Studies in Melbourne, Australia. As co-leader of the People and Environment Program in the Centre for Urban Research, she studies human-environment interactions using post- humanist theories and qualitative methods. Although an interdisciplinary scholar, Dr Maller's work is situated in human geography, specialising in post-humanist approaches, in particular theories of social practice. She is particularly interested in how people interact with animals and plants in homes and neighbourhoods, how these interactions affect health and wellbeing, and the implications for making cities greener and more biodiverse. Her research on human- environment interactions in urban settings is the subject of a recent book, 'Healthy urban environments: More-than-human theories' (2018, Routledge). Dr Maller's other books include two edited collections, 'Social Practices, Intervention and Sustainability: Beyond Behaviour Change' (2012, Routledge) and 'Social Practices and Dynamic Non- Humans: Nature, Materials and Technologies' (2019, Palgrave). She has published over 60 peer-reviewed publications and is a Lead Editor for the journal, People and Nature, published by the British Ecological Society with Wiley. Previously, Dr Maller has conducted interdisciplinary research in social science and ecology with a broad range of government and industry partners.


April 27, 2022
12.00 AM



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