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Schloss Leopoldskron
Aging Societies: Advancing Innovation and Equity 
Parks for the Planet Forum: Nature, Health and a New Urban Generation
08 Nov - 11 Nov, 2015
 Untapped Talent: Can better testing and data accelerate creativity in learning and societies?

Kathy MacKinnon - Chair, IUCN/World Commission on Protected Areas, United Kingdom
Gil Penalosa - Founder and Chair of the Board, 8 80 Cities; Chair of the Board, World Urban Parks; Former Commissioner, Parks, Sports, and Recreation for the City of Bogotá, Colombia

Today's rates of urbanization have no precedent in history. By 2045, over two-thirds of the world's population will live in towns and cities, with 90% of that increase taking place across Asia and Africa. As existing cities expand and new cities are born, the way in which urban populations and planners value and engage with nature will directly affect prospects for human health, community well-being and global sustainability. A new generation of global citizens is growing up disconnected from the natural environment, with negative consequences for mental and physical health and for attitudes to conservation and wise use of biodiversity. Cities everywhere see polarization along lines of wealth, access to resources, and opportunities to enjoy safe and healthy outdoor recreation. The impacts of air and water pollution, poor nutrition and unhealthy lifestyles contribute to physical and mental health conditions with spiralling costs for society and public budgets in all countries. Urgent action is needed to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases - which could otherwise cost low- and middle-income countries an estimated US$7 trillion in cumulative economic losses between 2011-2025. There is a compelling business case to connect nature-based solutions and health. A growing body of research and many promising cross-sector initiatives highlight the positive influence of nature and outdoor recreation for social cohesion, cognitive development, and healthier lifestyles. Nature has major benefits for aging populations, for prevention and treatment of mental and behavioral diseases, and in dementia strategies. The world's biodiversity and protected area systems, overseen by IUCN member organizations, can provide a critical resource to realize this potential. Unlike the technology-driven coordination around "smart cities," public health stakeholders, medical professionals and health insurers are surprisingly absent from policy-making for protected areas, urban planning, and renaturing cities. Moreover, awareness of and connection to nature seem to be declining among youth around the world - putting future support for nature conservation at risk. 2015 is a pivotal year to launch the Parks for the Planet Forum, as the international community negotiates Sustainable Development Goals and the new Climate Change Agreement. This landmark session on Nature, Health and a New Urban Generation - marking the anniversary of the 2014 IUCN World Parks Congress - will highlight the potential to reconnect growing urban populations with nature, achieving co-benefits that improve health and well-being while reducing vulnerability to climate-related and other environmental challenges.


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