'Green capital' as basis for a healthy living environment

Western European cities face uncertain futures as it comes to climate change, population growth and mobility. Therefore, many cities make strategic choices regarding urban densification, 'greening' and sustainability.

The Hague (in the Netherlands) is a 'green city' by the sea, with wide beaches, dunes and long green avenues. The forests, parks, dunes, country estates, district and neighbourhood parks, public-gardens and avenues unmistakably contribute to the specific character of the City. The Hague is growing and the wishes and needs of its residents and businesses are changing. Due to the growing population and the associated use of space, the overall quality of life and, the 'green environment' in particular,  are under pressure.


The current situation has been mapped to describe which areas are green and what the characteristics of the green structure are (e.g. tree density and height). Moreover, the relationship with socio-economic characteristics, such as population density, property value, and health were determined. To this end, satellite images depicting 'green areas' have been analysed in combination with census data. A strong statistical correlation between resident fitness and 'green per neighbourhood' was found: the more 'green per resident', the fitter the neighbourhood population. Similarly, in neighbourhoods with more green space, residents tend to be less obese.

the greener, the fitter the neighbourhood population
Impact and future perspective

Especially, in neighbourhoods in which fitness is low and obesity rates are high, neighbourhood 'greening' could improve the population’s health. A next step would be to pinpoint locations for action, such as replacing tiles for green.

  • In 2016, 13% of the adults globally could be described as obese and 39% were overweight.
  • The Hague is the third largest municipality in the Netherlands with over 500,000 inhabitants.
  • The Hague is located on the North Sea coast, with lush green dune valleys and many forested estates.