Greener, less mortality: the ranking of European cities

A team from the Barcelona Institute for Global Health identified European cities with the highest and lowest death rates attributable to a lack of green spaces. The team analyzed more than 1,000 cities in 31 European countries and concluded that up to 43,000 premature deaths could be prevented each year if these cities met WHO recommendations on housing proximity to green space.

Green spaces bring a long range of benefits to our health, including lower premature mortality, longer life expectancy, fewer mental health problems, fewer cardiovascular diseases, better cognitive functioning in children and older and more infants. healthy. As we all know, green also helps mitigate air pollution, heat and noise levels, help capture CO2, and provide opportunities for exercise and social interaction.

WHO recommends that there should be a green space of at least 0.5 hectares at a linear distance of no more than 300 meters from each home. Based on these guidelines and data from previous studies, the team ofInstitute for Global Health estimated the mortality attributable to the lack of green spaces in 978 cities and 49 metropolitan areas.

To calculate the amount of green space in each city, the study used the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), an indicator that measures how green an area is, taking into account all types of vegetation, from trees on roads to private gardens and is calculated using satellite images. As the type of vegetation differs between cities and regions and not all have the same type of greenery, the team translated the WHO recommendation into a specific NDVI value for each city.

The overall results of the NDVI showed that 62% of the population lives in areas with less green space than recommended. This lack of green space is associated with 42,968 deaths – 2.3% of all deaths from natural causes – which could be prevented by following WHO recommendations.

“Our results show that green space is very unevenly distributed among European cities”, commented researcher Evelise Pereira, lead author of the study. “However, the uneven impact is not only between cities, but also between different areas within cities, which puts some people at a disadvantage, depending on the city or neighborhood they live in. Too often green spaces are not close to where people live, and people do not get the benefits for their health ”.

Below are the 5 cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants with the highest mortality burden due to the low normalized differential vegetation index (NDVI):

These are the 5 cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants with the lowest mortality burden due to the low normalized differential vegetation index (NDVI):

As for the capitals with the highest mortality rates, the list saw Athens first, followed by Brussels, Budapest, Copenhagen and Riga, the capital of Latvia.

“This study provides an overview showing that there is a lot of work to be done in terms of redeveloping cities and that the reduction in mortality could be even greater if we were to set more ambitious targets than the WHO recommendations,” noted Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, author of the study. “European cities should focus on urban land reclamation for green space, introducing nature-based solutions such as green roofs and vertical gardens and other measures such as traffic diversion, asphalt removal and replacement with green spaces, green corridors, trees road and pocket park. Our study also shows that it is important that green spaces are accessible and close to homes “, ha aggiunto Nieuwenhuijsen.

The data was published on The Lancet Planetary Health and the ranking of cities is available on the website:

Source: Il Blog di Beppe Grillo by

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