Half of the world’s people now live in urban areas. This creates competition for resources and increases pressure on already limited green space.
Many urban areas are still experiencing active degradation or removal of green space. To reverse this trend and ensure the multiple benefits of green space are realised, we urgently need to move toward on-ground action.
However, there is no clear guidance on how to translate the evidence base on green space into action. There is limited information to guide green-space practitioners on how much is “green enough”, or on how to manage and maintain green space. There is also a lack of guidance on how to deliver the multiple benefits of green space with finite resources.
Why we need green spaces
A recent World Health Organisation (WHO) report aims to provide guidance on how to tackle the uncertainties of providing such spaces.
There is a substantial evidence base to show that green space is good for us. It is associated with many health benefits, both physical and mental – including reductions in illness and deaths, stress and obesity – and a range of positive social, environmental and equity outcomes.
Providing adequate green space within our urban areas is therefore paramount. We need to preserve, enhance and promote existing green spaces and create new spaces.
Various political frameworks underscore the need for these spaces in our cities. For example, the New Urban Agenda calls for an increase in safe, inclusive, accessible, green and quality public spaces. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development pledges to:
“… provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular, for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities”.
Moving toward action
The WHO report carried out a systematic review of the published evidence on green-space interventions. The review found a variety of intervention types have strong evidence for delivering a range of health, social and environmental outcomes.
These intervention types range from smaller green spaces, such as street trees and community gardens, to larger, more interlinked spaces, such as parks and greenways. This signals the need to think beyond the traditional urban park when considering how to meet the demand for green space among growing urban populations.
Article originally published by The Conversation.