The Netherlands is strongly committed to creating sustainable and future-proof cities at home and abroad. And to build greener cities, we need to cultivate greener mindsets. Through this international campaign, which takes place during the month of June, we want to highlight some inspiring concepts and initiatives that enable people worldwide to live sustainably in harmony with nature. And how these projects contribute to cleaner, greener and happier cities, today and in the future.
With green city initiatives popping up around the globe, it’s a great time to raise awareness of how greener cities contribute to climate change mitigation, overall physical and mental health, and biodiversity.
Why does it matter?
Research shows that green cities are essential to achieving a climate-proof and sustainable environment. Greener cities reduce air and noise pollution, ensure water storage, and contribute to cooling during warmer periods.
1. Increased well-being and better health
Parks, community gardens, riverbanks, trees lining the streets and private backyards - not only do they look beautiful, they also contribute to a happier and healthier living and working environment.
Green spaces reduce stress, increase happiness, boost creativity and vitality, and bring people closer together. Studies also show that hospital patients with views of trees needed less (-30%) heavy painkillers than those without a green view. At the same time, in-bed recovery time was almost 10% less in patients with a green view versus patients without.
2. Positive effects on climate change
With heavier downpours and increasing concrete and pathed areas, rainwater can barely reach underlying soil, increasing the chance of flooding. By creating more green spaces, these peak downpours have a larger surface through which water can disperse into soil, enrichening it on its way down. At the same time, while cities are becoming increasingly warmer in some areas of the world, urbanised areas absorb heat and struggle to cool down. Trees and shrubs can help reduce high temperatures in congested spaces by evaporating water. Trading a traditional roof for a green roof with grass and moss can reduce the roof’s temperature by more than half. More trees also provide more shade, thus cooling down public areas and pathways.
3. Boosting economy and neighbourhood value
While green spaces need to serve a function in order to be effective long-term, dressing up buildings with innovative green methods also increases the attractiveness of a city. People are attracted to green landscapes near offices and houses. Happier and more attractive working and living environments help companies hire and retain staff. Green spaces also spur green tourism and positively boost housing markets in urban areas. Various studies indicate that the value of real estate is higher when combined with a view of water, public spaces, parks or public gardens.
4. Uniting communities
Green parks, community areas and public gardens also bring people closer together in local neighbourhoods. People can enjoy more places to interact and get to know each other, while also benefitting from reduced nuisance, crime and vandalism. People will feel safer in their own neighbourhood.
5. Supports biodiversity
Animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms all have an important role to play in nature. Greater variety of species assures natural sustainability for all life forms. Boosting biodiversity within a city contributes to conservation efforts, while a wide range of pollinating insects create a reliable food source for birds and other animals, all while keeping nature in a perfect balance.