This project is creating a tool to help planners design effective urban blue spaces.

Led by the BlueHealth team at the WHO Regional Office for Europe, the Decision-Support Tool (or DST for short) will guide a user through a series of steps to identify the key health risks and benefits of a given blue space setting. It will highlight threats and ways to mitigate them, as well as spotting possible opportunities.



The tool will include information for different blue settings, such as marine environments, rivers, lakes, urban water bodies, and ornamental blue spaces such as fountains. It will feature guidance on three key elements:

  1. Health risks related to blue spaces, such as drowning, illnesses, vector borne diseases, or climate-specific factors like UV exposure;
  2. Human health benefits, such as opportunities for physical activity, or improvements in mental and social wellbeing;
  3. Improved ecosystem and environmental benefits, such as improved air and water quality, habitats and biodiversity.

Each outcome will be described in terms of its relevance to health, identifying the scale of the threat or opportunity, and the populations most likely to be affected.

The tool will also feature an assessment of risk, listing design features that might reduce the risk, or enhance and maximize possible benefits. These will include economic data on costs and savings, and future trends information that allow planning for blue space use and environmental conditions in 2040.

The DST will be developed as a web-based tool and will be targeted at urban planners, decision-makers, researchers and other stakeholders. It is hoped it will help to plan, design and manage blue spaces in ways which maximise public and ecosystem health outcomes.