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Nature-Based Education for Resilient Cities

  • Jean-Pierre Schweitzer
  • Susanna Gionfra
Chapter
Part of the World Sustainability Series book series (WSUSE)

Abstract

Nature-based education, utilising green infrastructure (GI) including protected areas, presents an opportunity against the backdrop of environmental and socio-economic challenges faced by urban citizens. Evidence shows that improving access to nature-based education, can deliver multiple benefits to citizens of all ages leading to heightened wellbeing and resilience at the community level. Mental health benefits of exposure to nature include positive effects on mood, concentration, self-discipline and physiological stress. Amongst children, nature-based play and learning can support the development of motor-skills, self-esteem and emotional regulation. In social terms, nature-based activities, including nature-based rehabilitation (NBR), can help support the reintegration of minority and marginalised groups, facilitating community participation, cohesion and reducing urban tensions. In economic terms, public access to nature provides cost effective infrastructure, reducing pressures on public finances, alleviating poverty, as well as generating possibilities for employment and volunteering. Engagement with nature promotes biophilia and ecological stewardship amongst citizens, influencing consumption and mobility habits, which in turn reinforce the resilience and sustainability of entire populations. Agricultural learning in urban farms, allotments and CSA, help to bridge the rural-urban metabolic rift separating production and consumption. Finally, novel approaches to citizen-science can allow individuals to engage with monitoring and verification contributing to city level sustainability. This chapter explores the underutilised role of nature in supporting the education of urban populations across these aspects. It draws on evidence gathered in a yearlong research project for the European Commission, building on case studies from all 28 EU member states, in depth interviews, a two day conference, and a public consultation. The wider objective of the chapter is to highlight empirical evidence on nature based solutions (NBS), the multiple benefits of nature and urban GI.

Keywords

Nature-based education Resilience Urban challenges Biophilia Citizens’ well-being 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for European Environmental Policy (IEEP)—Brussels OfficeBrusselsBelgium

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