a. Prof. Anna Jorgensen, Head of Department of Landscape Architecture at the University of Sheffield
Topic: “Improving Wellbeing through Urban Nature: a Vision for the Future”
This talk will build on the findings from our IWUN (Improving Wellbeing through Urban Nature) project, exploring their implications for urban planning, design and management as well as local government service provision. It will reflect on their relevance for a post-Covid-19 recovery, and for a just, sustainable and resilient future. IWUN was a 3 year UK research council funded project that explored the relationship between health and the natural environment from the point of view of Sheffield, a northern post-industrial city in the UK, looking at this relationship at multiple scales from a city-wide to neighbourhood, park and individual level. The study confirms the value of everyday nature for health and wellbeing, but reveals that the road to planetary health as manifest in one British city has to negotiate a complex set of issues ranging from social, environmental and health inequalities to local government in an age of austerity.
b. Elena Georgopoulou, Dr. Chemical Engineer – MSc Environmentalist of the Institute for Environmental Research and Sustainable Development (IERSD) of the National Observatory of Athens (ΝΟA)
Topic: “Climate change and mental health: an evolving risk”
Climate change is the most important global environmental problem and of great interest both scientifically and politically. The results of different climate models show that the increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions will lead to an increase in global temperature in the coming decades, even above 4oC in some scenarios of emission evolution. Also, extreme weather events (heat waves, droughts, floods) are expected to increase in intensity and frequency. The scientific community has for many years been making significant efforts to assess the impact of these changes in various fields. The most important disturbances that will be caused according to these analyzes include, among others, effects on public health, agricultural production, availability / quality of water resources and land, natural ecosystems, energy supply and demand.
Although much of the global research has been devoted to studying the effects of climate change on extreme weather mortality and the incidence of disease due to changing temperatures, the potential effects on mental health remain largely unrecognized. The talk analyzes the paths of these effects, presents typical findings from relevant research, and examines ways in which the field of mental health can be “fortified” in the face of the risk of climate change.
c. Dimitris Ballas, Professor in Economic Geography at the University of Groningen
Topic: “Happiness and the social, economic and physical environment”
Does the social, economic and physical environment matter when it comes to happiness? To what extent does where we live affect how we feel and why? Addressing such questions are part of a research agenda which is becoming increasingly prominent in the social sciences. This lecture will include a brief overview of philosophical perspectives and will then highlight the importance of geographical (including factors relating to the physical environment) and socio-economic contextual factors pertaining to well-being and happiness with a particular emphasis on the impact of social and spatial inequalities and social justice. The lecture will also make a strong case for an economic geography perspective to the analysis of the spatial determinants of happiness, including new innovative ways of geovisualisation.
d. Phoebe Koundouri, Professor Economics and Econometrics at the School of Economics, Athens University of Economics and Business
Co-chair of the United Nations Sustainable Development Network Greece (UN SDSN Greece)
Topic: “Towards Green Growth and Sustainable Development in COVID-19 times”
The pandemic of COVID-19 has clearly proven the ability of governments to take dramatic measures to mitigate an existential threat, as well as people’s ability, at least in the short run, to adapt to new restricted lifestyles imposed by these measures. Two new Initiatives driven by UN SDSN Greece aim to suppress the epidemic. The New Lancet Commission on COVID-19 (Earth Institute Columbia University) aims to suppress the Epidemic through public health, through vaccines and therapeutics, to address the social Humanitarian consequences and to manage the fiscal and financial consequences. The European Green Deal Working Group (EGD WG) is a Working Group built by leading Academics in Environmental, Natural Resource and Climate Change Economics. It aspires to (1) highlight the correlation between SDGs and EGD Policies, and (2) to introduce pathways that should be reflected to the EU Member States National Programs and EU MFF 2021-2027, based on the latest EU Initiatives for the new Recovery Fund, which has major mission to compensate for economic, social, environmental and humanitarian damage in the post-covid era (3) practically to investigate how Recovery Fund and EGD could create in investment portfolio, capable to implement SDG agenda and the Main (6) Transformation Pathways. In addition, PHD Students are mobilized to a) build on research- based considerations, in order to analyse all relevant parameters coming from several sectors (energy, production, infrastructure, economy, social benefits and legislation), b) to develop the necessary methodology and c) to contribute to outlining solutions and recommendations.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement call for deep transformations in every country that require complementary actions by governments, civil society, science, and business. While significant progress is being made on some goals, no country is currently on track towards achieving all SDGs. Says Professor Sachs, “the SDGs have become the world’s shared framework for sustainable development, but countries need more clarity on how to operationalize and track progress towards the 17 goals. Similarly, businesses, science, and civil society must support SDG achievement.” The United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UN SDSN) mobilizes global scientific and technological expertise to promote practical solutions for sustainable development. The Greek chapter, SDSN-Greece works closely with other United Nations agencies, multilateral financing institutions, the private sector and civil society to implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Climate Agreement in Greece. EIT Climate KIC Hub Greece is bringing to surface the potential of Greece for innovative solutions in CleanTech, WaterTech, Circular Economy & innovative financing schemes using systems innovation approach and engaging key stakeholders in all stages of the process to co-develop roadmaps and portfolios. ReSEES laboratory is the outcome of the evolution of the Research Team on Socio-Economic and Environmental Sustainability. ReSEES does policy relevant interdisciplinary research on environmental, natural resources and energy issues supporting the understanding and implementation of Sustainable Development. Our cluster of institutions, UN SDSN Greece, EIT Climate-KIC Hub Greece and ReSEES, work towards a prosperous, inclusive and resilient to climate-change society based on circular economy and aiming at net zero carbon emissions.
e. Joseph Botetzagias, Associate Professor at the Department of Environment of the University of the Aegean
Topic: “The Impact of Climate Change on Mental Health”
It is generally accepted that a person’s mental health is affected by a number of factors: genetic, psychological, social, environmental, etc. In my presentation I will present the findings of current scientific research on the effect, positive or negative, of the environment – natural (eg green spaces, bodies of water, weather conditions, etc.) and anthropogenic (e.g. eg urban space, noise, pollution, etc.) – in the mental health of a person. Particular reference will be made to the role played by climate change in the mental health of modern humans.
Coordinators: Kostas Stavropoulos, Dimitra Pilichou