Green public spaces in the cities of South and Southeast Asia
At a time when semi- and total-confinement measures were being announced and enforced in cities around the world, results from a research project led by the University of Geneva and focused on four cities in Asia – Chennai, Shanghai, Singapore and Metro Manila – demonstrate the significance of green public spaces as unique satisfiers for meeting human needs.
While parks are important spaces towards promoting biodiversity, cooling cities through green cover, and improving health indicators, the results of this study demonstrate that parks also meet several other human needs. In dense Asian cities, parks allow people of different social backgrounds to experience a natural environment, perform activities that are important to themselves, and experience a sense of community and belonging. What’s more, green public spaces allow diverse groups of people to achieve sustainable wellbeing – understood as a form of wellbeing that meets human needs with a respect for environmental and social considerations.
The findings are relevant to cities across the world, as green public spaces are closed off to enforce social distancing measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. By preventing access to such spaces, the wellbeing of groups that otherwise have no access to private green spaces is being undermined, leading to stark inequalities in human wellbeing.
This project received funding from the Swiss Network for International Studies. Manisha Anantharaman's stay in Geneva was made possible through a Alba Viotto visiting professorship at the Institute of Sociological Research, University of Geneva.