Recap of Urban Thinkers Campus “Nature-based Solutions and Green Public Spaces for Health and Resilience”

October 26, 2020

On Wednesday 14 October, ISOCARP Institute hosted the Urban Thinkers Campus “Nature-based Solutions and Green Public Spaces for Health and Resilience”. The event was organised in collaboration with the ISOCARP Community of Practice on Urban Health (CoPUH) and the International Society for Urban Health (ISUH), as a first activity within their new collaboration partnership. The UTC session brought together international experts and thought leaders providing an overview over public spaces, nature-based solutions, and their potential for urban health and in the current Covid-19 crisis. 

In his keynote speech, Mark Nieuwenhuijsen demonstrated how green spaces are essential to an healthy urban living, bringing tangible evidence of several studies and researches, and presenting interesting case studies.  

During the First Panel Discussion, Laura Petrella reflected on the work of Un-Habitat and its agenda, highlighting the importance of nature-based solutions and public spaces, and the need to design adaptable solutions to local contexts. Cecilia Vaca Jones brought the perspective of the children, presenting the critical challenges and needs for their health, in particular during the current pandemic. Thiago Hérick de Sa focused on the necessity to bring the community of planners and health together, presenting the latest Sourcebook “Integrating Health in Urban and Territorial Planning”.

The Second Panel Discussion focused on concrete experiences of implemented projects of green public spaces in different local contexts. Uta Christine Dietrich brought the experience of ThinkCity in South-East Asia, highlighting the issue of justice and distribution of green spaces in cities. Nathan Iyer reflected on his experience in South Africa and on the role of public spaces and nature as critical infrastructure in the urban environment. Nabi Agzamov presented some of the work made by Strelka in Russia, focusing on the most critical local challenges for urban health and possible interventions through green public spaces.

Takeaway messages

  1. Greening cities provides multiple healthy benefits (such as longer life expectancy, less mental health problems, better cognitive functions, etc..) and mitigate air pollution, heat and noise level.
  2. Public spaces, nature and landscape are essential infrastructure for healthcare, resilience, regeneration and local economy.
  3. Public spaces designed through nature-based solutions and green infrastructures promote environmental and social resilience, and contribute to address systemic poverty and inequalities in cities. 
  4. The distribution of sufficient green spaces in cities is a critical issue of justice and equality. Adequate targets and indicators can monitor and support it.
  5. Children deserve a special attention and a health environment since the beginning, with attention to quality and proximity in neighborhood planning. 
  6. Multi-sectorial approaches are needed to address health issues, articulating the links between health and urbanisation.  
  7. Health is a priority pillar for the post Covid-19 recovery and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Speakers and presentations

Keynote Speaker
Mark Nieuwenhuijsen – ISGlobal Barcelona Institute for Global Health

Topic: Green public spaces as pathway for healthy living


Cecilia Vaca Jones – Bernard van Leer Foundation

Topic: Urban 95, Urban Health, Urban resilience


Nathan Iyer – IYER – Planning, Urban Design & Architecture

Topic: IYER – NBS & Open Space



  • Introduction ad presentation speakers | 10 min.
  • Keynote speaker presentation | 20 min.
  • Q&A with audience | 10 min.
  • Panel discussion with Guest Experts | 40 min.
  • Q&A with audience | 20 min.
  • Closing | 10 min.
  • Jo Ivey Boufford – International Society for Urban Health (ISUH)
  • Jens Aerts – Bureau of Urbanism
  • Elisabeth Belpaire – ISOCARP Community of Practice on Urban Health
  • Federico Aili – ISOCARP Institute
Do not hesitate to contact us if you have questions or proposals for upcoming sessions.

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