SoNaRR2020: Wales has healthy places for people, protected from environmental risks

Our assessment of SMNR aim 3

The natural environment provides us with the things we need to live and thrive while protecting us against environmental hazards.

Healthy living, working and playing are all enhanced by access to good quality natural environments. Connecting with the natural environment provides mental health benefits.

Resilient ecosystems are needed to achieve healthy lives. Our assessment indicates there is still more to do to make sure that there are healthy places for people, protected from environmental risk across Wales. This is particularly the case in the more deprived communities.

COVID-19 is having a profound effect on daily life in Wales. There are wide-ranging impacts on the health and well-being of the population and many of these impacts are significant and will be lasting.

There is no single assessment which determines if Wales is achieving the aim of healthy places for people protected from environmental risk, but a number of indicators are brought together and discussed in this chapter.

These allow us to draw the conclusion that Wales is not yet meeting the aim, including:

  • Average life expectancy in Wales is 78 years for men and 82 years for women, but there are stark differences in life expectancy and healthy life expectancy between Welsh communities
  • Poor air quality is estimated to cause 2,000 deaths annually in Wales, 6% of total deaths
  • Twenty seven percent of people in urban areas of Wales and 18% in rural areas are affected by noise pollution
  • 245,000 Welsh properties are at risk of flooding

Opportunities for action

To achieve the SMNR aim of healthy places for people, protected from environmental risk across Wales we have identified four priority opportunities for action:

Establish equal and sustainable communities

Provide accessible and affordable amenities and services, good quality housing, education and integrated transport systems. These all contribute to creating and sustaining healthy communities.

Healthy, active, connected communities

Deliver public health approaches for social, economic and environmental benefits, such as safe green spaces and active transport. These have been shown to be cost-effective with potential returns on investment.

Green growth and innovation

Economic growth and development should ensure the sustainable use of our natural resources, through smart and innovative technologies, renewable energy generation, social procurement and nature-based solutions.

Move toward a regenerative economy, with sustainable levels of production and consumption

Manage the life-cycle of natural resources, from extraction through the design and manufacture of products, to using waste as a resource, to build a regenerative economy.

Download the full chapter of SoNaRR the sustainable management of natural resources - aim 3, healthy places for people