Salzburg Global Helps Celebrate World Parks Week

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May 26, 2020
by Oscar Tollast
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Salzburg Global Helps Celebrate World Parks Week

Salzburg Global Fellows and staff take part in webinars exploring the future of parks in a post-COVID-19 world This year's theme for World Parks Week was "Nature Never Salzburg Global Helps Celebrate World Parks Weeks"

Salzburg Global Fellows and staff members were among speakers and supporters who helped celebrate World Parks Week earlier this month.

This year’s celebration took place between April 25 and May 3 and centered around the theme "Nature Never Salzburg Global Helps Celebrate World Parks Weeks."

World Parks Week, organized by World Urban Parks, is a chance to celebrate parks and green spaces while communicating their critical importance in a global context.

The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the significance of having access to parks and green spaces to aid people’s physical and mental health.

During the outbreak, some people have had access to parks, trails, and open space, but others haven’t. With this in mind, World Urban Parks challenged people this year to explore how and in what ways they were experiencing nature in their circumstances.

On social media, people considered the following questions: What does nature look like to you? How are you connecting with nature? What have you discovered recently about nature? How could you bring nature into your community?

As well as sparking conversations on social media, World Urban Parks organized four webinars. Two of these webinars were led by Salzburg Global and featured Salzburg Global Fellows from past programs of the Parks for the Planet Forum.

What If?

The first webinar, titled “What If?,” featured leaders, influencers, and thinkers building on a conversation inspired by the London’s successful campaign to become National Park City.

Speakers included Dominic Regester, program director at Salzburg Global; Daniel Raven-Ellison, leader of the campaign to make London the world’s first National Park City; Alison Barnes, a trustee of the National Park City Foundation; Dima Boulad, co-founder of the Beirut Green Project; and Leticia Lozano, head of Playful City at LabCDMX.

Participants were encouraged to think creatively and critically about radical ideas and their implementation. What if the streets were for people instead of cars? What if parks received funding as part of a country’s health budget? Following the discussion, Raven-Ellison asked participants to share their own “#WhatIf” on Twitter.

Responses at a City Level

Two days later, World Urban Parks hosted two other webinars. The first of these was titled “CitiesWithNature: The Benefits of Access to Nature for Urban Communities During and Beyond Pandemics and Associated Movement Restrictions.” This webinar saw speakers and participants share thoughts and experiences on the role nature is playing in urban life, in light of COVID-19, and how cities are bringing parks to people and helping them connect with nature.

The second webinar that day was titled, “NRPA & US Park & Recreation Agencies Response to COVID-19.” Leaders from the National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) and US park and recreation agencies shared details on their response to COVID-19, noting how they had collaborated with the US Centers for Disease Control.

A Call to Action

The second webinar involving Salzburg Global also marked the final dialogue in this year’s World Parks Week. The discussion centered on systems transformation for nature, health, and cities.

Salzburg Global Fellows, from the frontline of urban regeneration, human-centered design, and nature-based solutions, shared their perspectives and helped shape a call to action for World Urban Parks.

Speakers included Jayne Miller, chair of World Urban Parks; Tolu Oni, professor of urban epidemiology, University of Cape Town and Cambridge University; Itai Palti, founder of Conscious Cities and director of HUME; Gil Penalosa, founder and chair of 8 08 Cities, and Clare Shine, vice president and chief program officer at Salzburg Global.

Following the discussion, World Urban Parks published and shared the following call to action:  

“There is an overwhelming endorsement that parks are a critical public health and social resource, and we recognize that stay-at-home measures and physical distancing will likely take a toll on our mental health, especially during high stress and anxiety-producing global public health emergencies. We also know from medical research how important nature is in urban life and how access to parks and open space provides that ‘nature fix’ for human survival – providing opportunities for physical activity and regaining our emotional, psychological and mental balance all of which are critical to reducing stress and improving our physical and mental health. Urban communities can continue to unite, take collective action, and remain connected to nature and each other at this time.

“Join World Urban Parks and the international parks and recreation community in showcasing the benefits of our parks, open spaces, and nature for our community and individual wellbeing. Through membership as an individual or as an organization, you will be a part of this network and community!”

World Parks Week confirmed this year’s webinar series was the most attended and thanked those who took part. For more information on World Parks Week 2020, please click here.