Health and wellbeing in cities - Cultural contributions from urban form in the Global South

Heidi Tuhkanen, Steve Cinderby, Annemarieke De Bruin, Anna Wikman, Charrlotte Adelina, Diane Archer, Cassilde Muhoza

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Urban public spaces, both natural and built, contribute to the liveability of urban spaces. Evidence shows that natural urban spaces can improve both physical and psychological wellbeing through providing cultural ecosystem services (CES), but there is a lack of evidence from Low and Middle Income Countries (LMIC). Rec- ognising the pressures that public spaces are under in rapidly changing cities of the Global South, it is critical that research is done to strengthen the argument to maintain the availability and accessibility of these assets. This is particularly the case in secondary cities where pressures to redevelop are high due to rapidly growing pop- ulations, whilst governance and planning systems typically prioritise growth. This paper presents participatory geographic information system survey findings for two contrasting LMIC secondary cities (Nakuru, Kenya, and Udon Thani, Thailand). We explore the interlinkages between urban public spaces, CES, and residents’ wellbeing. Our findings show that both natural and built areas in these two very different ecosystems are important for promoting wellbeing. Key factors that enabled or prevented the use of public spaces were convenience: prox- imity, affordability, and usability. The results also highlight the effects of the inequitable distribution of inviting public realm spaces across the cities and consider the impacts on spatial justice. These findings strengthen the need to promote wellbeing considerations through urban planning in rapidly changing cities to ensure their future liveability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages15
JournalWellbeing Space and Society
Early online date24 Dec 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 24 Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

© 2022 The Authors.


  • Global South
  • Wellbeing
  • Urban planning
  • Cultural ecosystem services
  • Public realm space
  • Inequity

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