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Ecosystems and human health: towards a conceptual framework for assessing the co-benefits of climate change adaptation

Keywords: Ecosystems and human health, green and blue areas, co-benefits, climate change adaptation

Author(s): Pablo Martinez-Juarez, Aline Chiabai, Sonia Quiroga Gómez and Tim Taylor

Date: 2015-07-07

Issue: 2015-01

  Download this working paper (571 KB.)



This paper focuses on the impact that changes in natural ecosystems can have on human health. Green and blue areas promoted as adaptation measures may provide a wide range of co-benefits which should be taken into account when designing adaptation options. Otherwise sub-optimal policy may result. Here we first present an overview of some key adaptation measures, their possible impacts on the natural environment and associated health implications. Second, we discuss the benefits associated with the exposure to green and blue areas and build a theoretical framework for analysing co-benefits of adaptation to climate change, where such adaptation affects the natural environment. Third, we present an overview of the key literature addressing the relationship between health and exposure to natural environment, while classifying the studies according to the methodological approaches, and discussing main results and key issues. Results in the literature show a positive correlation between health and green areas, while blue areas have attracted less attention. The wide range of differentiated approaches in the literature highlights the need for an integrated conceptual framework to assess the health co-benefits of adaptation that interrelates with the natural environment. We provide the basis for such a conceptual framework that allows identifying the different aspects of this interaction.

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