The exceptional severity of recent and current heat waves and/or droughts affecting several areas across the globe (from the West Coast of Northern America to the Russian Arctic and Madagascar) is yet another wake-up call for policymakers and civil society. Climate change is accelerating, and so are policies susceptible to mitigate its risks. Listed companies should start preparing to disclose in a standardized manner the risks they face from climate change. Such disclosures could be made mandatory as soon as November on the occasion of COP26. A game-changer!
We Need More Trees in Cities – and More Tree Equity
In the recent past in the US, about 1,500 heat-related deaths have occurred yearly, a number that will most certainly increase in the future (as it will in the rest of the world). One policy that could partly mitigate the risk is the densification of the tree canopy: It lowers the urban temperature and therefore saves lives. A study published in Nature shows that trees in cities perpetuate wellness inequality because the tree canopy is not distributed equitably. In the 37 cities where this has been measured, the most prestigious areas possess on average twice as many trees as the least prestigious ones.
According to an official at American Forests (a US conservation group), cities would have to plant 522 million more trees to achieve “green equity.” The benefits of a denser tree canopy in a city extend well beyond the dividends of saving heat-related deaths: They improve overall health and wellbeing (both physical and mental), they provide jobs, they reduce crime rates, they improve educational performance, and more. In short: a “root and branch” wellness no brainer!
Biodiversity Improves Mental Health
It’s well known that the wellness of our planet and our own subjective wellbeing are inextricably linked: To a substantial extent, the former determines the latter. New findings from two German research institutes corroborate this conviction by showing for the first time (to our knowledge) in rigorous scientific terms that “species richness” (i.e., good biodiversity) is positively related to mental health.
Their results demonstrate “a significant positive relationship between plant and bird species richness and mental health across all model variations controlling for a multitude of other factors,” which highlights the importance of species diversity for people’s mental health and wellbeing.
Simply put biodiversity is “salutogenic”: It promotes health. For wellness practitioners and investors, the takeaway is clear: In everything they plan and organize, they should consider supporting biodiverse environments to promote mental health and wellbeing (including green spaces in offices and urban environments).