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Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences - Geography Department

GreenEquityHEALTH

Junior research group ‘Environmental-health Interactions in Cities' (GreenEquityHEALTH) – Challenges for Human Well-being under Global Changes

 

Project Information

Project duration: 08/2017-07/2022

Project funder: BMBF

Funding code: 01LN1705A

 

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News

Our first GreenEquityHEALTH expert workshop took place 9-10th April 2019 at the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research-UFZ in Leipzig. During the workshop, results from the field campaign 2018 were presented and discussed. The selected green spaces as our case study cites - Friedenspark and Lene-Voigt-Park - were visited in an guided excursions during the workshop. The Friedenspark is an old grown historical park and the Lene-Voigt-Park quiet near a newly developed fancy regenerated former railway brownfield that is now a well acknowledged city park. 

   

 

 

 

 

  • Our first project factsheet for dowload here:

 


Background

Urbanization can be defined as population growth and the increase in densification of built-up areas. As a global phenomenon with 66% of the global population estimated to be urban by 2050 (UN 2014), urbanization is accompanied by environmental and public health threats such as increase of traffic, air and noise pollution, intensification of the urban heat island effect, and a lack of resources through a loss of open green and blue spaces. These threats are substantial challenges to ecosystem functionality and human health while the most affected are vulnerable populations, such as children, the elderly or socioeconomically deprived population groups.

 

Natural environments such as urban green and blue spaces that include a number of natural components including parks, trees, gardens, lakes, rivers provide a number of health opportunities because exposure to natural environments can contribute significantly to human health through mediating pathways and direct effects (Hartig et al. 2014).

 

 

These pathways can act to either encourage healthy behaviors like physical activity or social interaction, or to decrease risk factors such as air pollution or urban heat through the provision of regulating ecosystem services (heat mitigation, noise buffering or reduced air pollution). This in turn has positive effects on human health.

 

 

The growing body of evidence about the ample environmental and health benefits that urban green and blue spaces provide focuses mostly on general populations and adults. The rare existing studies on particular vulnerable population groups such as children and the elderly shows that there is not a universal protective health effect of urban nature (Kabisch et al. 2017). Although a positive association trend is highlighted some studies remain inconclusive and context dependent.

 

In times of increasing urbanization and climate change the topic of urban nature is central for healthy, more resilient and sustainable urban planning, not the least for vulnerable population groups like children, the elderly or socioeconomically deprived groups that have often less access to urban green and blue spaces but are more sensitive to the health issues associated with urbanization, particularly in combination with climate change. Thus, more elaborated research is needed that take into account multiple context factors including multi-method (spatial) approaches to show impacts of global challenges on urban vegetation and vice verso on health outcomes of vulnerable urban population. As many research studies already showed, socioeconomic confounders play a major role in health outcomes and may override environmental factors. This aspect warrants the inclusion of an environmental justice perspective in future studies on the effect of urban green and blue spaces on public health in the context of urbanisation and climate change.

 

The research group GreenEquityHEALTH aims to assess urban environmental processes related to climate change and urbanisation with a specific focus on public health and socio-environmental justice.

Main objectives are:

1: to assess urban land‐use intensity and relate this to plant traits, to deviate potential influences of certain environmental pressure and stress from climate change and urbanisation. Pressure such as high temperatures, soil sealing, air pollution or changes and disturbances in urban vegetation patterns with potential effects on human health and well-being should be detected with remote sensing time series data and on-site sensor based measurements.

2. to conduct field surveys to measure health on site including perception studies via questionnaire surveys and health measurements. The focus is in particular on local residents including retired people and children. The aim is to assess the potential of urban green spaces for improving health of city residents. Surveys and measurements should focus on urban green spaces such as historic parks but also newly developed areas in the cities of Leipzig and Berlin.

 


Group members

 


Conference contribution

  • Kabisch, N. (2017) Public health inequalities in cities – What is the role of green? At Seminar 'Global Urban Sustainability and Justice Insights, facts, visions and challenges
  • for a green-blue future of cities around the globe' at the The Royal Swedish Academy of Agriculture and Forestry (KSLA), Stockholm, Sweden.

  • Kabisch, N. (2017): Session 12: Green, yes, but just? Towards more environmental and social justice in cities. GREENSURGE Final Confernce. Malmö, Sweden.
  • Kabisch, N. (2017): Urban green infrastructure for sustainable urban development – The health perspective. RESILIENCE 2017 - Resilience Frontiers to Global Sustainability. Stockholm, Sweden, August 20-23, 2017.

 


Publications

 

Blog Posts

 

 


Advisory Board

Dagmar Haase, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Matilda van den Bosch, University of British Columbia

Chantal van Ham, IUCN,

Matthias Braubach, WHO

Thomas Elmqvist, SRC

Dr. Jan Bumberger, UFZ

Angela Lausch, UFZ