While adding green pockets to existing cities is one way to approach this problem, another could be to reimagine the urban landscape itself as a “City in Nature”. An example of this is Singapore’s greening journey, which began in 1967 with the vision of making Singapore a "garden city". Kicking off with mass-planting programmes, this journey has now led to the incorporation of greenery in all aspects of urban development in the form of parks, nature reserves, playgrounds, vertical gardens, and so forth. Today, the National Parks Board (NParks) acts as one of the main pillars of Singapore’s Green Plan 2030, aimed at building a nation where residents will be able to enjoy a liveable, sustainable and climate resilient Singapore.
With the pandemic leading to major shifts in how public spaces are used, open gardens and parks have proven to be lifelines for many across the globe. Urban green spaces have contributed to enhancing individual and community resilience during these stressful times. Spending time in nature increases physical activity and betters the overall physical and mental health of city-dwellers.
The importance of green spaces has also been recognised by the UK Government’s “25-year plan to improve the environment” which acknowledges the essential role that the natural environment plays in people’s physical and mental health. This plan also notes that access to quality green spaces depends on where one lives, and that economically deprived areas often have less available green space. The conversation of accessibility should extend to ensuring that green spaces are designed for people of all age groups, genders, socio-economic backgrounds and differing abilities. While ramps and dedicated pathways are some elements that could be added to make them more physically inclusive, it is also important that people from all backgrounds feel welcome in these spaces. Smaller pockets of communal spaces within the green scapes could enable gatherings of various scales and purposes.