Past Program

Nov 08 - Nov 11, 2015

Parks for the Planet Forum: Nature, Health and a New Urban Generation


Today's rates of urbanization have no precedent in history. By 2045, over two-thirds of the world's population will live in towns and cities, with most of that increase taking place in Asia and Africa. As cities expand and new cities are born, the way that urban populations, planners and innovators interact with nature will directly shape global prospects for health, well-being and sustainable development.

A key outcome of the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 was the realization that nature - and nature connectedness - can and must be deployed to tackle impacts on human health and well-being linked to rapid urbanization. Action is particularly urgent to reduce the burden of noncommunicable diseases, which could otherwise cost low- and middle-income countries an estimated US$7 trillion in cumulative economic losses between 2011-2025.

There is a compelling business case to connect nature-based solutions and health as our towns and cities are transformed. Research and cross-sector initiatives increasingly highlight the benefits of nature and outdoor recreation for social cohesion, cognitive development, and healthier lifestyles. Nature has major benefits for aging populations and for the prevention and treatment of mental and behavioral diseases, including dementia. The world's biodiversity and protected area systems, meeting global standards set by IUCN for effectiveness, can provide a critical resource to realize this potential.

Unlike the technology-driven coordination around "smart cities," public health stakeholders are surprisingly absent from policy and practice for protected areas, urban planning, and renaturing cities. Moreover, awareness of and connection to nature seem to be declining among youth around the world - putting future support for nature conservation at risk.

2015 is therefore a pivotal year to launch the Parks for the Planet Forum, as the international community adopts Sustainable Development Goals and a new Climate Change Agreement.

This landmark session - marking the first anniversary of the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 - will highlight the potential to reconnect growing urban populations with nature to achieve co-benefits for health and well-being, while reducing vulnerability to climate-related and environmental challenges.

A Multi-Year Series

Salzburg Global Seminar and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) seek to develop a ten-year leadership and action platform to deliver the Promise of Sydney - the ambitious cross sector framework developed by participants from 160 countries at the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014, which focused on the importance of protected and conserved areas for global sustainability, climate resilienceand human well-being.

The Parks for the Planet Forum takes forward the commitment of IUCN and its many partners to accelerate transformative change for an urbanizing planet. The proposed framework will combine an annual high-level meeting for catalytic leadership, investment and innovation with an evolving multi-year work program to share pioneering approaches at local and international levels. Over the next decade, this Forum aims to position nature at the very heart of human health and well-being, security and prosperity across the planet.

Key Themes & Questions

Urban and Youth Engagement: How do younger generations view opportunities to experience nature on their own terms? What approaches and urban gateways work best to build appreciation of and access to nature to improve their health and well-being? What additional steps are needed for minority groups and people with disabilities?

Strategic Coalitions for Health, Cities and Nature: What initiatives can best deliver coordination between the nature conservation sector, public health stakeholders and health insurers to expand access to nature? How can we influence policies and programs to scale up best practices? How can we better integrate "smart cities" technology-based infrastructure and nature based solutions for long-term benefit?

The Business Case for Urban Transformation: What investments by other sectors work best to connect young urban people to nature? How can we promote economic opportunities that support the health and well-being benefits of protecting and restoring the natural environment?

Communication, Tools and Data: How can we better understand and communicate the value of nature for human well-being? What systems can harness data and measure trends in nature awareness, health, and environmental attitudes and behaviors? Could citizen science initatives become powerful tools at community and regional levels?

Outcomes and Impacts

  • High-level understanding of benefits of integrated planning and investment for nature conservation, health, and urban development and technology.
  • Personal commitments from leaders to move key agendas forward.
  • Cross-cutting partnerships and initiatives to deliver the Promise of Sydney.
  • Strategic recommendations and actions for the IUCN World Conservation Congress (Hawaii, September 2016) and other key fora.


Julia Africa
Program Leader, Nature, Health and the Built Environment Program at the Center for Health and the Global Environment, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Boston
Barbara Anton
Coordinator, Sustainable Resources, Climate and Resilience, ICLEI - Local Governments for Sustainability, European Secretariat
Mohammad Ayoub
Founder and Executive Director of NAHNOO, Lebanon
Sally Barnes
Director of National Parks, Parks Australia, Canberra
Bernie Djonoputro
Partner and Executive Director at Deloitte South East Asia, Infrastructure & Capital Projects, Indonesia
Kang Dong Ik
Dong Ik Kang, Manager, Visitor Culture Team, Korea National Park Service
Mark Drewell
Senior Partner,The Foresight Group, UK
Janet Edmond
Senior Director, Peace And Development Partnerships, Conservation International, Virginia
Blendi Gonxhja
General Director, Tirana Parks and Recreation Agency, Albania
Jürgen Hoth
Director, Water Forest at Conservation International-Mexico
Marianne Kettunen
Principal Policy Analyst, Institute for European Environmental Policy, London
Cecil Konijnendijk
Head, Department of Landscape Architecture, Planning and Management, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences; Professor of green space management, University of Copenhagen
Kevin Lafferty
Access, Health & Recreation Policy Advisor, Forestry Commission Scotland, Edinburgh
Ivan Levin
Senior Director of Programs and Outdoor Nation,The Outdoor Foundation,Washington
Hui Jin Lim
Deputy Manager, National Health Insurance Service, South Korea
Juana Marino de Posada
Architect, Lecturer; Member, IPBES Expert Group, Colombia
Rebecca Stanfield Mccown
Acting Director,US National Park Service Stewardship Institute
Grace Mwaura
Research Fellow, African Centre for Technology Studies; Rhodes Scholar, Oxford University; Kenya
Qhelile Nyathi
Student Actuary, Actuarial Society of South Africa; Rhodes Scholar, Oxford University; Zimbabwe
Chuk Odenigbo
Chúk Odenigbo, Regulatory Analyst, Nimonik, Canada
Yurim Oh
Yurim Oh, Conservation Planning Department, Korea National Park Service
Rob Prosper
Vice President, Protected Areas Establishment and Conservation , Parks Canada, Quebec
Daniel Raven-Ellison
Founder & Campaigner, Greater London National Park City, United Kingdom
Nathalie Röbbel
Technical Officer, Public Health, Environmental and Social Determinants of Health, World Health Organization, Geneva
Trevor Sandwith
Director, Global Protected Areas Programme,IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), South Africa
Maria Schewenius
Project Manager, Stockholm Resilience Centre, Stockholm University
Martin Spray
Chief Executive,Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT), United Kingdom
Timothy Straka
Advisor, Students on Ice Foundation, Canada
Takemi Sugiyama
Associate Professor of Design and Health, Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Australia
Sam Tran
Middle School Program Manager, Crissy Field Center, Parks Conservancy, San Francisco
Chantal van Ham
EU Programme Manager Nature Based Solutions, IUCN European Regional Office, Brussels
Pamela Veinotte
Field Unit Superintendent, Rouge National Urban Park, Canada
Erion Veliaj
Mayor of Tirana; Former Minister of Youth and Social Welfare, Albania
Karl Wagner
Consultant, Realizing Visions; WILD 11 Executive Committee,The Wild Foundation




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