Fellows Call for World to Address "Challenge" of Nature, Health and a New Urban Generation

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Jan 14, 2016
by Patrick Wilson
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Fellows Call for World to Address "Challenge" of Nature, Health and a New Urban Generation

A call to action to connect nature and health to benefit future urban generations The Fellows who created the Challenge take a photo with the natural landscape of Salzburg

Fellows have presented a Challenge that calls on all sectors and stakeholders to advance nature-based solutions to improve health and wellbeing of future urban generations.

The “Salzburg Challenge for Nature, Health and a New Urban Generation” was issued by over 30 leaders and innovators from sustainability, health, national park directors, contractors, conservationists, architects, and nature and environmental experts. 

According to the jointly-issued Challenge “by 2050, over three in four people – at least 6 million – will live in towns and cities, with the faster urban growth across Asia and Africa”. The Challenge accepts the benefits of this urbanization but believes there is a “growing disconnect between people and nature which affects our physical, mental and spiritual health.”

The Challenge aims to encourage Fellows to “catalyze and nurture ways of working together to secure the right for all people to experience and be excited by nature and gain lifelong benefits for health and wellbeing from outdoor activities in varied and stimulating environments.” As well as this, it also promotes fostering “new leadership to conserve nature as the foundation for sustainability in an era of rapid global change.”

The comprehensive Challenge, which calls on “all sectors and stakeholders to accelerate regional and global action for nature based solutions to help communities and cities flourish and advance health and dignity for all people” was issued after the four-day program “Parks for the Planet Forum: Nature, Health and a New Urban Generation” held by Salzburg Global Seminar, at Schloss Leopoldskron, Salzburg, Austria. The program intends to be part of a ten-year series by Salzburg Global and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Ten steps are laid out for the Challenge to meet its goals and covers creating partnerships and alliances with organizations to encourage and accelerate use of nature-based solutions, making robust cases for investment, mobilizing new audiences of young and old, as well as promoting knowledge exchange and cross-sectoral research.

Trevor Sandwith, Fellow and director of IUCN’s Global Protected Areas Programme, believes embracing the Challenge involves a move away from simply making more plans. “What will make the transformative jump that actually galvanises exceptional progress on these challenges?” asked Sandwith. “The big implementation question…having a plan doesn't make it happen unless you've got vital people. So we said, 'let’s not spend our time constructing yet another plan' — let’s ask ourselves, ‘What have we been doing that’s so promising that we should illuminate it and amplify it and do much more of it?’”

The Challenge demonstrates a belief in the links between health and nature which Kathy Mackinnon, co-chair of the Session and chair of the IUCN/World Commission on Protected Areas, is continuing to research and “looking to see more evidence that there are clear links between nature and health,” she said. “We’re looking to how can you better reconnect people with nature very much with an emphasis on younger generations, but also old people, disadvantaged people, urban communities, new immigrants.”

Inspiration for the Challenge came from ”The Promise of Sydney”, a 10-year road map adopted by 6000 participants from 160 countries at the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 that considered protected and conserved areas as critical investments for human wellbeing and climate resilience.

A full text of the Salzburg Challenge for Nature, Health and a New Urban Generation is available below:

Download the Challenge (PDF)


The Salzburg Global program Nature, Health and a New Urban Generation is part of the Parks for the Planet Forum. The list of our partners for Session 557 can be found here: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/557