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Good Places, Better Health: A New approach to the Environment and Health in Scotland: Implementation Plan

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1.0 PURPOSE

The Scottish Government is committed to creating a wealthier and fairer, smarter, healthier, safer and stronger, and greener Scotland. Through these strategic objectives we aim to deliver on the central purpose of creating a more successful country, with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, through increasing sustainable economic growth.

Good Places, Better Health recognises that to deliver on the Government's purpose, themes, and national outcomes there is a need for greater connections around how physical environment influences health.

In Equally Well, the Health Inequalities Task Force highlighted the need to work to reduce further people's exposure to factors in their physical and social environments that cause stress, damage health and wellbeing and lead to inequalities. 1

We know that the physical environment that surrounds us is key to our health and wellbeing. Historically we have focused (very successfully) on creating environments free from significant hazards. Whilst this continues to be important we now recognise an additional need to create positive physical environments which nurture better health and wellbeing. The relationship between environment and health is complicated and creating safe and positive environments for health requires us to think, plan and deliver in new and more effective ways.

Good Places, Better Health supports five of the National Outcomes

  • Our children have the best start in life and are ready to succeed
  • We live longer, healthier lives
  • We have tackled the significant inequalities in Scottish society
  • We live in well-designed, sustainable places where we are able to access the amenities and services we need
  • We value and enjoy our built and natural environment and protect and enhance it for future generations

Good Places, Better Health will ensure greater connections between environment and health policy and actions. It will aim to ensure that the complexities of the relationship are understood and transparently mapped out, that we improve the collation and interpretation of evidence and that this improved knowledge is translated into policy and actions which can be applied nationally and locally to develop health-nurturing environments.

"By delivering better, more equal health care Scotland can make progress in terms of four of the Scottish Government's five strategic objectives; to make society: wealthier and fairer, healthier, safer and stronger, and smarter. However, when better, more equal health is delivered through creating better places we can address all five strategic objectives more effectively. Without focusing on place and recognising the ways in which environmental inequality can contribute to health inequalities, interventions may improve health but may not meet wider sustainability objectives."
George Morris, Scientific Advisor to Scottish Government