NEWS:

A new global project titled "Re-imagining Environments for Connection and Engagement: Testing Actions for Social Prescribing in Natural Spaces" (RECETAS) will address the loneliness created by the COVID-19 pandemic through interaction with nature in six cities in Europe, Latin America, and Australia.

RECETAS will address loneliness, a modifiable health condition that is known to shorten one’s lifespan and may be as dangerous to one’s health as smoking or obesity. In Europe alone, before COVID-19 pandemic, over 75 million European adults reported meeting with family and friends at most once per month and 30 million European adults frequently felt lonely.

Loneliness knows no geographic, economic, cultural, and social boundaries and affects all age groups. For urban dwellers, being nearby nature with social structures can improve health and mental well-being and reduce loneliness. Even under the extraordinary circumstances of COVID-19, people need time in nature for its healing benefits. Investments in nature-based solutions (NBS) and green infrastructure (GI) that address rapid urbanization and its adverse consequences on environmental systems in our cities can be harnessed for health and wellbeing even in times of health emergencies.

RECETAS explores loneliness through a transdisciplinary lens, integrating social, behavioral, health and natural sciences, and is grounded in participatory principles. It will use randomized controlled trials (RCT) and other epidemiologic, anthropological and health economic methods to test socially – and culturally – innovative nature-based social prescribing (NBSP) in six cities in Europe, Latin America, and Australia. The approach aims to improve upon real-world policy and practice to reduce loneliness by connecting people experiencing loneliness with helping professionals and extensive investments in NBS and GI, while alleviating pressures on stressed health care systems.

If successful, this project will systematically reduce loneliness; promote and sustain vibrant, socially-connected communities; and reduce health inequalities by connecting people to nature in meaningful ways.

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