Session coordinators: Sjerp de Vries & Hans Keune
Nature health benefits session
Session report available here
Nature benefits human health in many ways. Examples are the importance of biodiversity to traditional and modern medicinal practice, and the utility of various species for medical research. Genetic and species diversity is functional to food production, and can play an important role in addressing issues of nutrition security including certain disease risks (e.g. obesity, diabetes) through dietary improvements. Biodiversity also plays a role in safeguarding air quality and access to fresh water, disaster risk reduction, and supports emergency responses and climate change adaptation. Furthermore, diverse natural environments may enhance experiences that reduce stress, support the development of cognitive resources, stimulate social contacts, attract people for physical activity, and support personal development throughout an individual’s lifespan. Moreover, recent studies show that declining contact with some forms of (microbiotic) life may contribute to the rapidly increasing prevalence of allergies and other chronic inflammatory diseases among urban populations worldwide (see other parallel session). Biodiversity thus can have an important contribution to both public health related ecosystem services and the reduction of health risks.
In this session we will discuss a diversity of experiences, expectations, opportunities and challenges regarding nature health benefits work in science, policy and practice. Also will we discuss potential linkages between different topical foci within and beyond the realm of different nature health benefits.