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Ahead of a key European Parliament vote on the nature restoration law, HEAL urges members of the European Parliament to support this key proposal for people’s health and well-being.

The body of evidence on the health and economic benefits of green spaces, including on mental health, has steadily grown, and major systematic reviews are now available, covering more than 130 studies.

Just in May 2023, the World Health Organization (WHO) in a report on the value of urban green and blue spaces for health and well-being concluded that better quality green and blue spaces are linked to better health outcomes. An assessment of ISGlobal concludes that up to 43.000 deaths could be prevented in EU cities, if the WHO recommendations on access to green space were achieved. 

“Protecting and restoring nature is a key pillar in preventing disease and cutting down on healthcare costs. A healthy environment helps to strengthen people’s resilience and to adapt to climate change. As the impacts of global heating are increasingly being felt in Europe, it becomes ever more urgent to protect and restore the planetary foundations on which we depend upon”.

Anne Stauffer, Deputy Director of the Health and Environment Alliance.

Health and well-being benefits of green spaces include 

  • Reduced air pollution, reduced noise, cooling effects in times of heatwaves, 
  • Increased opportunity for physical activity, stress relief for people, as well as benefits on the brain and working memory
  • Social benefits: space for social contact and cohesion, cultural and spiritual benefits: education, heritage and creative benefits
  • Improved water quality, improved carbon capture and storage

Examples of health economic benefits of green spaces include: 

  • Public parks in London avoid 1.08 billion EUR a year in health cost through better physical health and reduced mental costs
  • Improved physical activity through access to urban green space led to a monetary value of 597 033 EUR over 20 years in Gexto, Spain

Easy access to green spaces in Barcelona results in better mental health with less use of antidepressants and medication, and less visits to a mental health professional. If the share of green space was improved across Barcelona, this would result in up to 45 million EUR savings in cost of direct and indirect mental health costs.

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