One of the most fundamental components of sustainable development involves ensuring that people of all ages can lead healthy lives.
In recent years, we as a global community have increased life expectancy and reduced child and maternal mortality. We have also made major progress on increasing access to clean water and sanitation. Thanks to vaccines and improved healthcare, instances of malaria, tuberculosis and polio have reduced.
Yet, we need many more efforts to address different persistent and emerging health issues. According to the World Health Organization, worldwide obesity rates have nearly tripled since 1975. Additionally, mental health issues such as stress, anxiety, and depression are serious challenges to our wellbeing. Diseases related to air quality, such as asthma, are still another obstacle we face in a world with pollution and a changing climate.
How Trees Can Help
Trees possess the potential to improve our physical and mental wellbeing in a variety of ways. Firstly, trees absorb odors and pollutant gases. They can reduce asthma rates by improving the air quality. Trees can even help to reduce obesity levels. Planting trees along running paths or other green spaces can help beautify neighborhoods and promote physical activity, such as walking or cycling. Studies show that people who live close to trees and green spaces are less likely to be obese or inactive.
Research suggests that access to nature also reduces depression levels and improves social cohesion. Tree planting initiatives can bring whole communities together, empowering and uniting neighbors for a great cause. Not only do trees help reduce stress and improve our overall mental wellbeing, but they can also play a role in healing. Studies suggest that hospital patients with views of trees heal faster and with less complications than patients without any glimpse of nature. There’s now growing evidence that trees are necessary for good health and wellbeing.
To learn more about the Sustainable Development Goals, visit the United Nations website.