Connecting science with policy for sustainable development of urban ecosystems

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Mikaël J. A. Maes

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Start Year

2016 (Cohort 3)

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PhD Project
PhD Title

Connecting science with policy for sustainable development of urban ecosystems

Research Theme

Biodiversity and Ecology

Primary Supervisor
Primary Institution


Secondary Supervisor
Secondary Institution


Additional supervisor(s)

Mireille B. Toledano (Imperial College London),


Cities contain interconnected networks of functioning urban green spaces that conserve natural ecosystems and provide services to urban residents. Scientific understanding that green infrastructure (GI) has both positive and negative relationships in relation to human health is well established. GI has a significant effect on air pollution levels, physical, mental and social health. Green space coverage can significantly reduce blood pressure levels, cortisol concentrations, sedentary behaviour, depressions and the level for particular air pollutants. Participation of communities in green space is also highly dependent on the community assemblage, showing different results for groups such as ethnical and racial minorities, elderly and children. However, the precise features of GI responsible for the human health benefits is poorly understood, leaving policy makers uninformed on the GI that most effectively benefits human health. Here I will explore the impact of the type, size, structure, duration of stay and local biodiversity of GI on human health by building on an existing study from Imperial College London (ICL). Building on these findings, I will assess the barriers and opportunities for accounting for health benefits of GI in policy instruments through two case studies and develop relevant policy options for policy-makers to deliver more sustainable cities and communities.

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