Healthy environment, healthy lives

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Healthy environment, healthy lives

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Nature is central to our health. In the EU, however, almost one in seven deaths is attributable to environmental pollution. Socially deprived communities are more exposed to air pollution, noise and extreme temperatures, and COVID-19 adds an extra burden. Protecting and restoring our environment – in particular in cities – can combat pollution, improve health and foster social cohesion.

This online debate explores solutions to tackle the link between environmental pollution and inequality. A high-profile group of policymakers and key experts in the field will share their views and address questions from the online audience.

This event is organised in partnership with the European Environment Agency to mark the publication of the ‘Healthy environment, healthy lives: how the environment influences health and wellbeing in Europe’ report.


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PHOTO CREDIT: Ieva Bruneniece, My City/EEA

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Healthy environment, healthy lives Expand Healthy environment, healthy lives

Be it clean air, water, quality food or a restorative walk in the woods – nature is central to our health. In the EU, almost one in seven deaths is attributable to environmental pollution. Socially deprived communities are more exposed to air pollution, noise and extreme temperatures, and so face a higher risk of environmental diseases. COVID-19 adds an extra burden for these communities as underlying conditions increase the likelihood of infection and hinder recovery.

Protecting and restoring our environment – in particular in cities – can mitigate environmental pollution, improve our health and foster social cohesion. Socially deprived communities stand to benefit the most from the benefits of access to green and blue spaces. The European Green Deal offers an opportunity to tackle environmental inequalities in the EU by directly addressing the uneven distribution of environmental risks and benefits across the continent. Integrated policies can foster synergies across the environment, health and society and deliver a triple win.

  • The burden of environmental disease is greater in Eastern Europe than in Western Europe. What role can EU instruments like the European Green Deal and the Cohesion Fund play here?
  • There is some evidence that air pollution increases vulnerability to COVID-19. Can this provide a new opening to tackle environmental health inequalities?
  • Cities can be a playground for experimentation when it comes to green and blue spaces. How can city planners involve vulnerable people and ensure they benefit as well?
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