Urban green counts on several advantages

Wageningen University, WUR, team works on a reaching green cities for everyone


How can we ensure that all inhabitants benefit from nature in the city? Various researchers of Wageningen University & Research are seeking to answer this question. ‘We want as many people as possible to benefit from green cities, which is why the social aspect must feature high on the agenda of climate adaptation and urban nature projects.’

If you cycle through a city on a warm summer’s day, you will feel differences in temperature. Cool areas along the water or under the shade of a lane of trees, warmer along a busy road or in areas with little shade. Stating the obvious? Perhaps. Still, the green city is not yet used to its full potential. Moreover, green is unevenly distributed over the different neighbourhoods, resulting in social inequality.

‘The term “green in the city” immediately calls forth images of parks, rows of trees and public gardens’, says Marian Stuiver, Green Cities programme leader at Wageningen University & Research (WUR). ‘But urban green also includes collective vegetable gardens. The latter not only provide access to fresh food, but also bring people closer together. Urban green reduces social differences.’

More nature in urban areas helps cool the city. Temperatures in green neighbourhoods are up to two degrees Celsius lower than in neighbourhoods with less vegetation. Moreover, green areas have better drainage. Nature increases our happiness and reduces stress. Urban farming -all types of urban food systems – provides city-dwellers with access to healthy food.

To date, access to green and fresh food is unequally distributed. Neighbourhoods with a lower socioeconomic status have less vegetation and poorer air quality. This impacts the residents’ health from an early age. Children in green neighbourhoods are less likely to be overweight. Moreover, there is a relationship between the amount of vegetation in neighbourhoods and the amount of ADH medication used by its residents. More green means fewer pills.


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A green city for everyone