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2017 Conference

Abstract Number: 602 | ID: 2017-602

Urban Green Space Interventions Deliver Positive Health and Equity Outcomes

Anne Cleary(School of Medicine and Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, Australia, anne.cleary@griffithuni.edu.au), Matthias Braubach(WHO Regional Office for Europe, European Centre for Environment and Health, Germany), Julia Nowacki(WHO Regional Office for Europe, European Centre for Environment and Health, Germany), Pierpaolo Mudu(WHO Regional Office for Europe, European Centre for Environment and Health, Germany), Marco Martuzzi(WHO Regional Office for Europe, European Centre for Environment and Health, Germany), Ruth Hunter(School of Medicine, Dentistry and Biomedical Sciences, Queen’s University Belfast, United Kingdom), Peter Fawcett(School of Environmental Sciences, University of Liverpool, United Kingdom), Annette Rebmann(Germany)
Background/Aim: The introduction of green space within the built environment can help address many urban health issues. Empirical evidence, however, of the effectiveness of green space interventions is partial. This presentation explores the findings of a WHO project that examined the impacts of urban green space interventions.
Methods: A systematic evidence review on urban green space interventions summarized environmental, social and health impacts from 38 published studies. In parallel, 48 local case studies were compiled to describe urban green space projects and the respective lessons learned. A WHO expert meeting discussed the material and generated key principles and practical guidance on green space planning and management.
Results: There was promising evidence to support some green space intervention approaches, such as park-based interventions which incorporated promotion and marketing elements, greening of vacant lots, provision of urban street trees and green infrastructure for stormwater management. The evidence indicated the potential of green space interventions to generate environmental, social and health-related benefits, but also showed that equity considerations need to be better integrated. The local case studies showed that environmental and behavioural outcomes were the most frequently reported primary intervention objectives while health and equity benefits were considered a co-benefit. Still, many of the urban green space intervention case studies successfully created healthy built environments while also benefiting equity. However, challenges were observed regarding the need to monitor and evaluate local green space projects.
Conclusions: The project showed that urban green space interventions can have a wide range of benefits for urban residents, and that any type of green space can make a positive difference. The project helped to derive practical guidance on green space action to support urban practitioners, but also indicated that more reliable evaluations of urban green space intervention impacts are required to inform local policies and planning decisions.