Addressing health inequalities through nature: Insights from the GoGreenRoutes Workshop in Valletta

Valletta, Malta - May 9th, 2024 – Ecostack Innovations hosted a significant GoGreenRoutes workshop as part of Malta's Living Lab on Resilience through Nature. This event focused on leveraging nature to mitigate health disparities, underscoring the essential connection between environmental sustainability and human well-being.

GoGreenRoutes, a Horizon 2020 project, aims to position European cities as global leaders in urban sustainability. The workshop on May 9th gathered representatives from various European cities involved in implementing Nature-Based Solutions (NBS), such as pocket parks, green corridors, and shared walkways. These initiatives are designed to enhance environmental quality and improve public health outcomes.

Participants included stakeholders from diverse sectors who engaged in insightful discussions and listened to presentations from invited experts. Among the speakers, Prof. Tadhg MacIntyre from Maynooth University and GoGreenRoutes coordinator, alongside Prof. David Sheffield from the University of Derby, highlighted the significant links between nature access and both physical and mental health. Dr. Mario Balzan of Ecostack Innovations presented a comprehensive framework to assess the connections between nature and well-being.

The academic presentations were followed by industry-focused discussions on practical experiences in using nature to address health inequalities, chaired by Terri Morissey,  Founding Director of This Is… and a leader in organisation and leadership development. Notable industry speakers included Martin Rogan, former Chair of the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership with over 30 years of mental health experience in Ireland, and Dr. Elaine Gallagher, a Behavioural Science Consultant who specialises in overcoming behavioural barriers in learning through evidence-based approaches.

Throughout the workshop, participants exchanged valuable insights into the positive impacts of nature on human health and well-being. This dialogue is increasingly crucial as urbanization intensifies across Europe, with Malta exemplifying this trend. According to the World Bank, Malta's urban population reached 94.88% of the total population in 2022, highlighting the urgent need for integrating nature into urban planning to mitigate high-stress environments.

Ecostack Innovations remains committed to its collaboration with GoGreenRoutes, striving to develop innovative nature-based strategies to enhance human health in urban settings. As cities continue to expand, integrating natural elements into urban development is essential for safeguarding human well-being and reducing health disparities.