We were joined by Ingrid Coetzee, Senior Manager: Biodiversity and Nature-based Solutions, ICLEI Africa, Ana Rocha, Executive Director, Nipe Fagio in Tanzania, Mario Yanez, Director, Inhabit Earth, Elizabeth Gitonga, Programme Manager for Partnerships at the Africa Early Childhood Network, and Kathryn Ewing, Senior Lecturer and Convener of the Urban Design Programme in the post-graduate programme at the University of Cape Town and a Non-executive Director of Violence Prevention through Urban Upgrading Non-Profit Company in Cape Town.
The conversation drew a link between nature based solutions, such as provisioning, regulating, cultural and habitat services and key health impacts such as the quality of physical environment, poverty, access, age and gender. What the concept of One Health offers here is a direct articulation of the need for balancing priorities of human health, animal health and environmental health. This has not been conceptualised much at city-level, which has led ICLEI Africa to start a One Health Cities Centre to articulate the role of cities in driving One Health.
Public space, as a key interface of animals, environment and people is a vital area for promoting the balance articulated by One Health. We typically associate public space as cut grass and built playgrounds, yet in African cities, this is not the typical experience of public space; instead, we should consider the spaces in which people collect water, urban streets, early childhood development centres, food gardens, and retails spaces. We can take this understanding of public space in stride, by investing in safe walkways, public space livelihoods, and community food gardening.