“Natural” cities

In a paper published last year, two Swedish scholars from Örebro University, Ulrika Olausson and Ylva Uggla1, discussed the implication of nature in place promotion based on the example of Stockholm. Though several studies have highlighted the desirable presence of nature (such as parks) in cities, there has been less research on the use of nature in city marketing.

The authors studied Stockholm’s official visitor guide website, and identified three frames of nature. In the first frame, nature and city are complementary. In the second, nature is considered the “exotic other”. In the last, it is defined as “pristine nature”. All these different aspects of nature are offered in Stockholm. However, according to the authors, these three frames are constructed to answer tourism demand. Nature has thus been transformed into a commodity for commercial purposes.

The authors acknowledged that a promotional website could hardly consider the negative impacts of urbanisation on nature in depth, but were nonetheless disappointed at the predominance of these frames.

These notions of nature-human relations, while useful for promoting cities and tourism, do not meet the criteria for sustainable development.

Although Stockholm is considered one of Europe’s greenest cities, another vision of nature is needed so that it is not considered merely a product made available to visitors.

  1. Uggla, Y. & Olausson, U. (2012). The Enrollment of Nature in Tourist Information: Framing Urban Nature as ‘the Other’. Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture. []

Sebastien Goulard

Ph.D. in political science (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in social sciences (EHESS, Paris); M.A. in international relations (IRIS, Paris), B.A. (Hons) in international political studies (ESE - Nottingham Trent University)

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