EQoL scale: an operational tool to assess NBS benefits on quality of life
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Beside environmental and economic impact of NBS, an alternative valuation scale based on quality of life was also developed as part of the Nature4Cities project.
This scale provides additional information on the possible benefits of NBS on several dimensions of quality of life (social, physical and environmental). Understanding NBS and NBS perceived benefits would be a major step in promoting existing NBS, as well as key to success for new NBS projects.
Environmental quality of life is a multidimensional concept and considers the benefits of environment on physical, psychological and social dimensions (WHO, 1998), as well as multiple aspects of interactions between individuals and their environment (thermal comfort, noise, air quality, ambience, etc.).
Development of the Environmental Quality of Life Scale (EQoL scale)
In order to develop the EQoL scale, qualitative data gathered in three qualitative studies were analyzed in order to identify indicators of QoL related to NBS (see figure below). Six sub-dimensions of environmental quality of life often related to NBS were identified (accessibility, aesthetic properties and quality, social, security, practices, environmental challenges). For operational purposes, the final version of the EQoL scale is composed of six different modules that target different NBS (parks and public gardens, urban farms or collective gardens, natural spaces, blue spaces, green surfaces and biodiversity). Each of the module of the EQoL scale can deliver a single score.
In its final form, the EQoL scale can be used in a variety of ways:
As a diagnostic tool:
- To assess the overall satisfaction of individuals regarding their environment or existing NBS in their environment;
- To assess users’ satisfaction if a given NBS is targeted.
As an assessment tool:
- To measure the efficiency of an NBS after its implementation by comparison with environmental quality of life before the NBS implementation;
Finally, the EQoL scale can give specific hints if specific public and more vulnerable are targeted (for example, elderly people or patients).
A tool that can be used before and after NBS implementation
Following the validation of the EQoL scale, two implementation scenarios of the EQoL scale were proposed. In each scenario, we tested an integrated model that included several physical, perceived and psychological indicators in relation with the EQoL modules for parks Nature4Cities and gardens and blue spaces. Interestingly, in the two examples the amounts of green and blue spaces were identified as significant predictors of the environmental quality of life. This implies that the availability and proximity of these spaces have a positive impact on the environmental quality of life linked to public gardens and parks and blue spaces.
This emphasizes the possibility to use the EQoL scale for assessing environmental quality of life: it can be used as a tool to assess the impact of an NBS before it is implemented, or as an assessment tool to measure the efficiency of an NBS after its implementation.
This is especially interesting if we consider that the lack of green spaces around the living place can have a detrimental effect on physical and psychological health. It emphasizes the need to promote the access and availability of green spaces (public gardens, parks or blue spaces) as accessibility and availability are predictors of how much people would benefit from these spaces. Furthermore, for vulnerable people, the development of NBS near where they live should be considered.
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