World Health Day: Nature's big impact for health

Annegret Kammer Unsplash
7 April 2024

The 7th of April is World Health Day. This international celebration organised by the World Health Organisation is focused on the topic 'My health, my right’ in 2024.

Around the globe the World Health Organization estimates that at least 140 countries recognise health as a human right in their constitution. Nevertheless, this means that at least 4.5 billion people, out of 8 billion that live worldwide, have their right to health under threat. Numerous research studies have proven that the exposure to polluted environments and the lack of access to green and peaceful spaces can cause severe physical and mental health problems.

We need to continue making nature healthy and accessible to everyone. For this reason, on 7th of April, GoGreenRoutes is highlighting the importance of green infrastructure and co-creative nature-based solutions to enhance the physical and mental health of urban residents.

Today, some 56% of the world’s population live in cities. By 2050, this is forecasted to increase to nearly 7 of 10 people living in urban areas. These citizens must also have the right to spend time in healthy and green environments. By maximising access to public green spaces people can participate in more active travel, thus improving their mental and physical health, and enjoying free time with others in ecologically and socially restorative spaces.

The GoGreenRoutes project focuses on co-creative Urban Well-being Labs in six “Cultivating Cities” (i.e. Burgas, Lahti, Limerick, Tallinn, Umeå, Versailles). These cities are implementing nature-based solutions (NbS) to enhance the physical and mental health of their urban residents. All these solutions are good for people, but also for the natural ecosystems and other living beings. GoGreenRoutes is co-creating many tools to further equip stakeholders to make cities more green, such as the Digital Placemaking tool-kit, which provides guidance on processes to create sense of attachment to a physical space using digital media, and a joint manifesto to improve well-being and health in cities with sister projects IN-HABIT + VARCITIES + euPOLIS with more tools and resources to come.

Year by year we are observing new initiatives and actions to make cities healthier places, and moreover in ways that account for the local voice. For this reason we encourage the exchange of ideas, resources, and tools. On the 8th of April, GGR consortium partners are meeting under the co-creation umbrella to discuss the progress so far and what is to come in the remaining months of the project and what lessons were learnt so far. Stay tuned for the outcomes and explore what these six “Cultivating Cities” are doing to improve physical and mental health.

Visit the GoGreenRoutes website to learn more about the nexus of health and nature.