Press Releases ICLEI: GoGreenRoutes: New EU project to investigate benefits of urban nature to health in the aftermath of COVID-19

ICLEI: GoGreenRoutes: New EU project to investigate benefits of urban nature to health in the aftermath of COVID-19

Freiburg, Germany, 23 November 2020 – A new €11m project funded by the European Commission will apply novel solutions such as urban nature-based interventions, big data analysis and citizen science to investigate the links between green spaces and human health and well-being – a topic that has gained worldwide attention in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With a network of almost 40 partners across Europe, Latin America and China, GoGreenRoutes foresees the implementation of transformative “nature-based solutions” in six pioneering cities. An innovative knowledge ecosystem will be established involving another nine urban centres, 14 universities and research institutions, 12 small and medium enterprises and five NGOs, sowing the seeds for increased nature-connectedness in urban environments.

The four-year project shifts the traditional focus of nature-based solutions – actions inspired and supported by nature which simultaneously address societal challenges – towards the co-benefits to multidimensional health-termed “360-Health”. The aim is to identify and monitor positive effects of green spaces to stress reduction, attention restoration, mental resilience and pro-social behavior, while using digital innovation to investigate how green corridors impact physical activity and active travel.

As a result, a new set of environmental indicators will be developed to inform the design process of green routes, ensuring that they meet the needs of their users and address challenges which are unique to different cities.

GoGreenRoutes will take the COVID-19 pandemic into consideration and evaluate the impact of reduced air pollution during and after lockdown, as well as the effects of quarantine on mental health.

Piret Noukas, Project Adviser at the Executive Agency for Small and Medium‑sized Enterprises of the European Commission said: “GoGreenRoutes will show the benefits of urban nature-based solutions for health and well-being. It devotes particular attention to cutting-edge digital innovations, notably soundscape, digital placemaking, emotional mapping, and virtual reality. The project will also put emphasis on co-creation, diversity, equity and inclusion.”

Dr. Tadhg MacIntyre, coordinator of the project at the National University of Ireland Maynooth, said: “COVID-19 has reminded us how the thread of our existence is intertwined with biodiversity and the natural world. Access to greenspace, which was highly limited during lockdown scenarios, is critical for mental health and well-being. UN SDG target 11.7 is to provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, particularly for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities by 2030. What we have learnt from the pandemic is that citizens need more greenspace than ever, especially in urban areas. Spending time outdoors while physically distancing reduces the risk of transmission and promotes a positive psychophysiological response which is key to our resilient response to global challenges”.

Maria Vasile, Policy Officer, Healthy Lives Unit at the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation at the European Commission said: “GoGreenRoutes will deliver on one of the objectives of EU’s Research and Innovation programme Horizon 2020 to decode the role of environmental determinants on health and developing mitigating measures. With its strong component of social inclusion, it also strives for investment in better health for all.”

More specifically, the project’s urban interventions will:

  • harvest the full potential of natural spaces to foster a more active lifestyle and better well-being in Burgas (Bulgaria);
  • mitigate air pollution and noise pollution from traffic congestions by creating segregated active travel routes in Lahti (Finland);
  • address the challenges from traffic congestion through the development of a green corridor, additional street trees and restorative spaces in Limerick (Ireland);
  • optimise the re-purposing of a sports stadium through the use of green infrastructure to connect the venue with local communities in Tallinn (Estonia);
  • segregate motorised vehicular traffic from cyclists and pedestrians for the benefit of all gender and age groups in Umeå (Sweden), where gender-sensitive interventions will be considered;
  • cultivate co-ownership of urban green spaces in Versailles (France), future-proofing the city for planned new developments and reducing risks of gentrification;
  • generate knowledge and innovation to increase the uptake and acceptability of nature-based solutions in Munich (Germany), the region of Murcia (Spain), Gzira (Malta), Beijing (China), Mexico City (Mexico) and Tblisi (Georgia).

GoGreenRoutes is funded by EU’s Horizon 2020 programme under grant agreement number 869764 and will cluster with other projects funded under the topic of “Visionary and integrated solutions to improve well-being and health in cities”.


More information is currently available at

Additional information will be available in February on the official project website at and on the project Twitter account at

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