Science–policy challenges for biodiversity, public health and urbanization: examples from Belgium

H Keune*, C Kretsch, G De Blust, M Gilbert, L Flandroy, K Van den Berge, V Versteirt, T Hartig, L De Keersmaecker, H Eggermont, D Brosens, J Dessein, S Vanwambeke, a H Prieur-Richard, H Wittmer, a Van Herzele, C Linard, P Martens, E Mathijs, I SimoensP Van Damme, F Volckaert, P Heyman, T Bauler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Internationally, the importance of a coordinated effort to protect\nboth biodiversity and public health is more and more recognized.\nThese issues are often concentrated or particularly challenging in\nurban areas, and therefore on-going urbanization worldwide raises\nparticular issues both for the conservation of living natural resources\nand for population health strategies. These challenges include significant\ndifficulties associated with sustainable management of urban ecosystems,\nurban development planning, social cohesion and public health. An\nimportant element of the challenge is the need to interface between\ndifferent forms of knowledge and different actors from science and\npolicy. We illustrate this with examples from Belgium, showcasing\nconcrete cases of human–nature interaction. To better tackle these\nchallenges, since 2011, actors in science, policy and the broader\nBelgian society have launched a number of initiatives to deal in\na more integrated manner with combined biodiversity and public health\nchallenges in the face of ongoing urbanization. This emerging community\nof practice in Belgium exemplifies the importance of interfacing\nat different levels. (1) Bridges must be built between science and\nthe complex biodiversity/ecosystem–human/public health–urbanization\nphenomena. (2) Bridges between different professional communities\nand disciplines are urgently needed. (3) Closer collaboration between\nscience and policy, and between science and societal practice is\nneeded. Moreover, within each of these communities closer collaboration\nbetween specialized sections is needed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)025015
Number of pages1
JournalEnvironmental Research Letters
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2013

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