I joined the BlueHealth Project in 2019 to help develop future scenarios research with the team at RIVM. Yet my career path into BlueHealth started out with investigating infectious diseases, which have always triggered my curiosity.
It astonishes me how such small things like microbes can do so much harm. This led me to study medical microbiology, which enabled me to research this amazing interplay between humans and pathogens. After working in the laboratory and researching water-related infectious diseases, I wanted a better understanding of the multidisciplinary aspects of water-related infectious diseases.
The BlueHealth project allows me to zoom out from the microscopic view and have a broader view of the different factors influencing access to water. I am fortunate to live in the city centre of Utrecht, which has lots of blue spaces. I can walk near the water anytime and local people visit the canals to run, walk, have picnics during the summer and even ice-skate during the cold winters. The BlueHealth Project has demonstrated the importance of talking to different people about their perception of blue spaces and how it influences their lives.
I was very happy to attend the BlueHealth meeting in Amersfoort last year as it provided me with a crash course on BlueHealth which is a very complex project. It’s refreshing to talk to people with different backgrounds about their perspective, going beyond scientific papers.
Harvesting information and perspectives from different parts of Europe has highlighted similarities in ‘blue health’ across different countries but also differences because countries and regions have different cultures and values. This is interesting but also makes it challenging for us to make comparisons.
Our future scenario research, combined with landscape and urban planning investigations, have real potential to enhance access and the quality of blue spaces across Europe. Harvesting information and perspectives from different regions have highlighted similarities in ‘blue health’ across different countries but also local cultures and values influence differences.
These research insights will help to shape policies and decision making both locally, nationally and internationally, to promote urban wellbeing and protect natural environments in Europe’s town and cities.