The working group meeting hosted by MEP Judith Merkies (S&D, NL) and Gerald Häfner (Greens, DE) examined why children’s connection with nature is important and how can it be stimulated.

During the Meeting, Tim Gill, British author and public speaker, presented the outcomes of the ‘Sowing the Seeds’ project.

Previous research has suggested that a child’s contact with nature is particularly important. Natural environments are said to have restorative qualities that help in relaxing and coping with everyday stress. They are claimed to promote adaptive processes in child development (for instance motor fitness, physical competence and self-confidence). They are also said to support learning and education.

Finally, it is claimed that spending time as a child in green outdoor environments nurtures lifelong positive attitudes about nature and the wider environment. Maximising young people’s contact, and the quality of that contact, with nature in the city is therefore fundamental. Children under the age of 12 were taken as the focus for this research.

The purposes of the research were to:

  • Summarise the benefits experienced by society from increasing opportunities for children under the age of 12 to experience nature;
  • Identify the most successful interventions to encourage regular access to nature amongst children under the age of 12, and make policy recommendations to facilitate this in mainstream education;
  • Support current thinking in looking beyond provision of natural spaces, to focusing on actual use of natural spaces;
  • Develop alternative metrics that may accurately measure access to nature amongst children under the age of 12.

Summary and the full report.

Overall objectives of these Working Group meetings:

  • To gain a better understanding of the quality of childhood in EU member states, focussing on ‘Children and their connection with nature: why it is important and how can it be stimulated?’.
  • To think about the role that the European institutions could play to improve the situation.
  • To get to grips with the principles and approaches that could lead to improvements for children.
  • To form an effective working group and to get a sense of how to move on.

On behalf of EPHA, Zoltán Massay-Kosubek shortly presented EPHA’s aims and activities on the field of Child Poverty, mentioning the EP seminar ’From Rhetoric to Action – Tackling Child Poverty and Promoting Children’s Health and Well-being in the EU’ organised by EPHA. He underlined the importance of evidence and data for an effective advocacy work.

Interested EPHA Members may contact Zoltán Massay-Kosubek at
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