New global forum on importance of urban green spaces

Urban green spaces offer multiple proven benefits, from increasing the quality of urban settings to creating health benefits. In recognition of these benefits and the many innovative approaches to creating urban green spaces, the first World Forum on Urban Forests (WFUF) is taking place on 28 November–1 December in Mantova, Italy. The WFUF will discuss the changing nature of cities and the role of urban forestry for a greener, healthier and happier future.

The WFUF provides an ideal forum for WHO/Europe to showcase our extensive work on health risks and benefits of urban green spaces, making the case that urban interventions and green infrastructure contribute to improved health and well-being.

In 2017, WHO developed an action brief on urban green spaces that aims to support policy-makers and practitioners in designing urban green space interventions and understanding their practical implications for urban environments, social equity and health status. The action brief compiles key findings from research and practical case studies, presents lessons learned from local governance, and highlights aspects to consider when designing urban green spaces to maximize social and health benefits.

This message and call for action has resonated widely in many countries, both within and beyond the WHO European Region. It has thus found support from various stakeholders and networks, leading to translations of the brief into Finnish (by the Finnish Association of Landscape Industries), French (by the French Healthy Cities Network), German (by the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation), Italian (by the Piedmont Region) and Portuguese (by Fernando Pessoa University). All these translations of the action brief are now available in time for the WFUF, and will enable and support national and local action.