Human societies, economies and cultures are embedded in nature and depend on nature for their sustenance and well-being. Moreover, experiencing and connecting with natural environments help reduce psycho-physical stress, boost our immune system, increase positivity and vitality, stimulate social cohesion and physical activity. According to the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030, “we need nature in our lives” to improve our psycho-physical health and that of the Planet. Indeed, there is a growing recognition that interactions with natural environments are an opportunity for preventive health, and have positive benefits on many non-communicable diseases connected to urbanisation, modern lifestyle and working conditions.
Further, assisted interventions in nature can increase self-esteem, reflection, improve social and emotional skills also for people with disease and disabilities. These benefits are further recognised within the context of the challenges brought by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Green Care initiatives provide these benefits to people while also providing opportunities for new businesses and green jobs, sustainable management of natural resources and enhanced cross-sectorial cooperation and innovation. These and other additional social, economic and environmental impacts brought by Green Care initiatives make them important change agents for the green economy.
The EU Blueprint on Green Care, published by Green4C project, brings together for the first time four different emerging sectors – Forest-based Care, Social Agriculture, Urban Green Care and Green Care Tourism – and reports on the opportunities and challenges for supporting innovation and entrepreneurship in these thematic sectors. Using 20 case studies across Europe and Americas, the document looks at triggers, points of strength and weaknesses of Green Care innovation and business development and capitalises on the extensive research experience of the project partners.
The analysis reveals that Green Care initiatives are challenged by uncertainties in funding policies and regulation, low public awareness and recognition of the role of such initiatives, lack of standards and integration into health care policies and practices. Nevertheless, they found their strengths in collaborative and multi sectorial attitude, strong networks and partnerships, the ability to provide inclusive and adaptive services and the increasing interest and demand for sustainable, inclusive and green solutions to health and wellbeing.
The Blueprint is an important knowledge tool containing recommendations addressed to the different stakeholders that need to take action to advance the role of Green Care initiatives for health, well-being and social inclusion. Download the EU Blueprint on Green Care and the Background report here www.greenforcare.eu/reports.