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Can nature-based solutions improve quality of life?

COOPER, CLAIR,LOUISE (2022) Can nature-based solutions improve quality of life? Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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In the wake of the global climate, biodiversity and health crisis, cities are increasingly looking for solutions to help them ‘build back better’ to create a more sustainable and resilient future that improves the quality of life of urban inhabitants. Against this backdrop, Nature-based solutions have emerged, promising to tackle a multitude of different societal challenges by using urban nature to create, manage and restore ecosystems to provide quality of life. This thesis asks does the concept of Nature-based Solutions (NBS) relate to concepts that underpin the quality of life by unpacking the interconnected and dynamic relationship between the management and governance of NBS, socio-economic and socio-political factors at a macro and mesoscale. To achieve this aim, this thesis presents a novel mixed-method approach that integrates exploratory data analysis, geometric data analysis, thematic mapping, and quantitative text analysis to untangle these complex phenomena.
The thesis presents three empirical chapters: the first examines how the distribution of the characteristics of NBS relates to different socio-economic conditions across European Regions, and the second examines how changes to nature conservation paradigms that underpin NBS have influenced the interaction between governance, participation, citizen involvement, and in turn quality of life. Finally, the last empirical chapter examines how different types of green and blue space and ecosystem services influence adverse health outcomes at a population level.
By examining the interactions between different characteristics that influence the practice and implementation of NBS with different social and economic determinants of ill-health, this thesis highlights the lack of consideration of entrenched, social, and economic conditions that adversely affect urban QoL in the design, planning, implementation, and monitoring of NBS despite the repeated reference to the importance of NBS for good QoL in the scientific literature. The design, planning and implementation of NBS are rarely influenced by factors such as the ageing structure of the population, lack of good quality housing with access to salutogenic or the loss of urban biodiversity, or the interactions between these phenomena and their impact on QoL despite the urgency of the climate challenge and the imperative for cities to transition to sustainability. Furthermore, this thesis finds that while pathways influence the implementation of NBS at different scales, they are deeply entwined and contested, often hindering the potential of NBS to positively influence the upstream social and economic determinants of ill health and unjustly distribute their benefits.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Nature-based solutions, quality of life, cities
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Geography, Department of
Thesis Date:2022
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:27 Feb 2023 13:39

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