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) guides a user through a series of steps to identify the key health risks and benefits of a given blue space setting. It highlights threats and ways to mitigate them, as well as spotting possible opportunities for boosting public health and wellbeing.



The tool includes information for different blue settings such as marine environments, rivers, lakes, urban water bodies, and ornamental blue spaces like fountains. It features 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 well-being;
  3. Improved ecosystem and environmental benefits, such as improved air and water quality, habitats and biodiversity.

Each outcome is 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 also features an assessment of risk, listing design features that might reduce the risk, or enhance and maximize possible benefits. These 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 is being developed as a web-based tool and is 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.