Investing in the Environment to Enhance Physical and Mental Health: The Bupa Perspective
Richards, the Director of Sustainability at Bupa, discusses the significance of accessible, green spaces for people's physical and mental well-being in urban settings.
The Global Biodiversity Framework agreed upon at COP15 in 2020 has generated greater impetus for biodiversity pledges.
This milestone aims to tackle biodiversity loss and revive natural ecosystems worldwide before 2030. In addition, the World Economist Forum and McKinsey have researched nature-based climate solutions for the climate crisis. It is thought that nature-based actions could provide one-third of the answers to remain within the 1.5°C pathway, according to their discoveries.
As we approach the six-month mark since COP15 in June 2023, it is an excellent time to take a moment to look back on the objectives established by the biodiversity framework and to keep the momentum of the collective effort that was made to create it last December.
Accomplishing the goals is no easy feat, and it will necessitate that all companies collaborate to cease and overturn the loss of nature.
Rewards for the Environment and Population
People and the world feel the advantages of the environment.
Research has shown that people can benefit from being in nature, thereby emphasizing the need to restore the health of our planet for all who inhabit it.
Research conducted by the University of Exeter has uncovered evidence that exposure to green spaces can potentially lessen the chance of developing conditions and diseases, such as diabetes, heart disease, and stress. Additionally, relaxation and fatigue can be decreased with exposure to these areas.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has suggested that those living within a 300m radius of green spaces could benefit physically and mentally from the proximity.
To better the well-being of humanity and our planet, we must take action immediately to counteract the negative repercussions of our efforts on nature.
Incorporating the environment into sustainability plans
Human well-being and the planet's condition are inseparably connected, from how our surroundings can influence our health to how the healthcare industry affects our environment and climate. For this reason, at Bupa, making healthier, more eco-friendly environments where people can flourish is critical to our sustainability plan.
We have established the objective of assisting one million individuals annually by 2025 to better their health via projects that aid in the redevelopment and revivification of nature.
This year, we are dedicated to fostering physical and mental health by allowing people to engage in local environmental initiatives. Additionally, we are looking to create and join in meaningful collaborations to bring medical knowledge to the foreground and use it to secure health improvements by conserving and rebuilding natural habitats.
Creating an Involved Workforce and Cooperating with Colleagues
We are in the beginning stages of our pursuit and recognize that we don't have all the responses.
We are determined to reach our objectives, cooperating with others and considering how to contribute to the environment as part of our more comprehensive sustainability policy.
The lockdown sparked a realization of the positive effect of being near nature on one's mental health, with many individuals including long hikes in their day-to-day lives. Additionally, it highlighted that many people lack the chance to enjoy the benefits of green areas, with recent studies from Bupa UK demonstrating that 22% of individuals must drive to the nearest accessible park.
Bupa plans to implement its Healthy Cities initiative in all its markets to address the situation in all the areas of operation.
Through this effort, employees and communities are being encouraged to engage in different health activities, and by doing this, they will be able to unlock funding for the refurbishment of city landscapes, which includes programs such as urban tree planting initiatives.
It has been established that employees are a vital asset when it comes to making changes; moreover, when taken together, their actions can have a notable result in sustainability goals.
Empowering employees to be mindful of their environmental footprint and do their part to safeguard it can have a beneficial effect not only on the planet but also on their health and well-being.
In the past 12 months, participants of Bupa's Healthy Cities programme in Europe and Latin America achieved a milestone of five billion steps (or its active equivalent). With this dedication to healthier habits, the organization contributed to reforestation projects by planting more than 93,000 trees, including restoring locations that have been affected by fires.
Giving precedence to cities and decreasing greenhouse gas emissions
It is not possible to apply a single strategy to all businesses when it comes to incorporating the restoration of nature into their plans. Different methods must be used.
At Bupa, we focus on locations where we are established internationally.
Greenhouse gas emissions from cities are a significant concern, as they are at the forefront of the health risks of climate change. Additionally, it is projected that the current population of cities, which already houses more than half of the world's people, will rise to 68% by 2050, according to the United Nations.
Our campaign needs to cooperate with partners to magnify our effect in rendering cities more salubrious areas to inhabit, which is a critical next move for us.
As time is of the essence with the 2030 horizon in sight, businesses must take the necessary steps to invest in the regeneration of nature. The contributions of employees, partners, and those who believe in the cause will be paramount to achieving the desired change. Although it may seem daunting, there is cause for optimism.
The impact of climate change on our environment is undeniable. It is clear that its consequences are far-reaching and have a significant effect on the planet. From altering weather patterns to causing sea levels to rise, climate change poses a substantial threat to the world.