There is a substantial evidence base to support using nature to enhance wellbeing, particularly within urban settings. However, when it comes to translating this evidence into on-ground action and using nature or green space within our cities as a public health intervention, it can raise a lot of questions. For example, what type of green space should be provided for the local community? How much green space is needed? What functions and activities should the green space support? How will the green space be managed and to what standard should it be maintained? What is the intended outcome from this green space intervention and how will we know if it has been achieved? And, importantly, how can all of this be delivered within finite resources?
To help urban green space practitioners answer these questions, the WHO Regional Office for Europe has recently released Urban Green Space Interventions and Health – a review of impacts and effectiveness. Our green space colleague Anne Cleary, who co-authored the report, explained that the report’s purpose is to explore which urban green space intervention components work and deliver the best results. Through a systematic review of the published literature, compiling urban green space intervention case studies from across Europe and investigating Impact Assessment experiences of green space planning, this report has highlighted some key recommendations for the design and delivery of effective urban green space interventions.
Some of the key recommendations outlined in the report include:
- Fostering multidisciplinary and cross-sectoral collaborations to help ensure that urban green space interventions deliver on multiple outcomes and provide a variety of functional opportunities that attract different population groups.
- Applying a “dual approach” where a physical improvement to the green space is coupled with a social engagement/participation element that promotes the green space and reaches out to new target groups.
- Planning and designing with the local community and the intended green space users.
- Considering urban green space interventions as long-term investments, that need to be integrated within local development strategies and frameworks (e.g. urban masterplans, housing regulations, transport policies, sustainability and biodiversity strategies).
The report, which builds on a previous WHO Urban Green Spaces and Health evidence review, will inform the upcoming Sixth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health. The conference, to be held on 13-15 June in Ostrava, Czech Republic, provides a unique intersectoral policy platform bringing together relevant sectors and partners to shape policies and actions on environment and health.