«We have to make cities greener to make them healthier»

Mark Nieuwenhuijsen


    Cities have always fascinated me; they are vibrant, full of activity, bustling. I believe we can improve them, make them more liveable, healthier and more sustainable, with a holistic approach. I’m from the Netherlands and there, for example, everyone goes everywhere by bicycle. It is not just a great way to stay in shape and enjoy better health, but also makes cities healthier, less noisy, with lower CO2 emissions. And by needing less space than vehicles it allows for an increase in green areas. Overall, this can improve people’s physical and mental health and reduce premature mortality. Ideally we should have a cycle lane in every street.

    In the Phenotype project we studied the impact of green spaces on population health. We observed that visiting green areas such as parks or woods is extremely important for both physical and mental health, reducing stress and lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The impact of green during the early stages of life is fundamental and has repercussions on health in later years. We have to make cities greener to make them healthier.


    • Mark Nieuwenhuijsen
      Director of the Urban Planning, Environment and Health Initiative of the Institut de Salut Global de Barcelona (ISGlobal), Barcelona