Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment / Deltares / University of Exeter - European Centre for Environment and Human Health / European Commission / Vitens Evides International

Health and Well-being through Effective Blue-Green Space Design and Governance

Tuesday 28 August | 09.00-10.30 | Room: FH Little Theatre

This event provides the audience with an unique opportunity to learn about the latest findings of three EU H2020 research projects related to ecosystems and human health; INHERIT (Green spaces, Mobility), BlueHealth (Urban Blue Spaces ) and SOPHIE (Oceans), and related projects. The common denominator of these projects is the potential for environmental policy to increase public health, health equity and reduce socio-economic inequalities, by improving environmental quality. Whether concerning the urban, coastal or recreational landscape, the aim of these projects is to develop integrated assessment approaches which take into account both risks and opportunities of environmental interventions aimed at adapting to climate change, with the objective of informing effective health governance, policy and spatial planning.
BlueHealth and SOPHIE, for instance, consider both public health risks (infectious disease, water quality) as well as benefits (reduced cardiovascular disease and obesity, higher self-reported well-being). INHERIT underlines the importance of behavior as factor for healthy choices. All projects stress the importance of health and wellbeing as factor in the design of public spaces. In a panel discussion policymakers form different levels and session participants are invited to share their visions on the applicability of these research findings and express further needs.

Gold standard events are committed to ensure the gender balance in speakers/panellists and young professional representation in the session.

Programme


Part I Presentation of work (50 minutes)
• Opening by facilitator (Lieke Friederichs - RIVM)
• Bluehealth/Inherit/SOPHIE synergies (BlueHealth) (Jo Garrett - University of Exeter)
• Blue and Green Health through Virtual Reality (BlueHealth) (Mare Löhmus - Karolinska Institutet )
• Innovative health solutions for coastal areas (S.O.P.H.I.E.) (Eline Boelee - Deltares)
• Water quality check for innovative and sustainable water features (Lucie Vermeulen - RIVM)
• Interventions and blue-green infrastructure (INHERIT) (Hanneke Kruize - RIVM)
• Policy scenarios for a healthy environments (Bluehealth, Sustainable Development Goals 2030) (Lieke Friederichs - RIVM)


Part II Policy panel and mentimeter propositions
• Ann Uustalu (Science Policy Officer - European Commission)
• Daniel Truneh (Regional Director North and East Africa - Vitens Evides International)




Conclusion

This event provided the audience with an opportunity to learn about the activities of three EU Horizon 2020 research projects related to ecosystems and human health; INHERIT, BlueHealth and Seas, Oceans and Public Health in Europe (SOPHIE) and related projects. The common denominator of these projects is the potential for environmental policy to increase public health, health equity and reduce socio-economic inequalities by improving environmental quality. Whether concerning the urban, coastal or recreational landscape, the aim of these projects is to develop integrated assessment approaches which take into account both the risks and opportunities of environmental interventions and inform effective health governance, policy and spatial planning.


Five researchers presented research design and findings of their projects of affiliation (for an overview see conference website) such as BlueHealth Virtual Reality, Microbiological assessment of urban water features, innovative solutions for coastal health planning and policy scenario’s for achieving the BleHealth and the SDGs.  In a panel discussion Ann Uustalu, Science Policy Officer at the European Commission and Daniel Truneh, regional Director North – and East Africa at VEI were invited to share their visions on the applicability of these research findings and express further needs. The audience were also invited to respond to the same questions with a digital polling app.


The audience was also asked to rank the value of blue/green spaces that were most important to them. Drinking water source (28 %) received the highest score. Both panelists also gave this value the highest score. Daniel Truneh (VEI) stresses that source water protection is one of the crucial elements of ensuring safe drinking water production. Source water protection for drinking water and ensuring safe bluespaces for other values such as recreation and ecology can and should go hand in hand.

Recommendations

  • Economic valuation of Blue/Green Spaces requires further development, especially in a global development context. Respondents felt that the risks of green and blue spaces do not outweigh the benefits (74%). However they also felt that maintaining urban blue/green spaces is too costly to be a priority in most countries (50%).
  • Effective science communication is key. Not only to a wider audience (broadcasting results), but also involving stakeholders in the research phase, whether experts, local citizens or policymakers is important. There panel recommended for more behavioral (psychology, economics) and social science integration in relation to these topics in future work.

Initiatives