Social and health equity within public spaces

August Webinar

Date: August 23, 2023

4:00 PM CET
8:00 AM Mexico City time
4:00 PM SAST

Maliga Naidoo

The focus of this webinar will be on South African parks, recreation, and open public spaces to promote social connectedness and health. Parks and public open spaces have always been viewed as a place for community gathering, a place to relate to others and the environment.

For optimal benefits and climate resilient communities, urban parks, leisure amenities, and communal public open spaces should be designed through a process of community engagement, and creativity.  While not unique to South Africa, it is well known that some communities have access to better quality parks and services than others. 

This became very evident during the Covid-19 pandemic and the recent flooding around South Africa where communities with the least investment in infrastructure were the most affected. Poor communities are most vulnerable which has a negative impact on the health and quality of life. The discrepancy between  the haves and have-nots continue to widen.

It has become imperative for a closer collaboration of city officials, urban planners, architects, engineers, parks and recreation and the community, to work more closely  today to ensure public spaces become the beacon of a solution driven approach for primary health care and to address the issue of equity. All people, irrespective of their socio-economic background, ethnicity, gender, ability, or age, must have equal access to public spaces. 

People, nature, and the economy will thrive in areas which are built through a community participatory process with the emphasis on quality, accessibility, and inclusion.  The point of departure for this talk is based on SDG 11 which is defined as “….the objective is to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable for years to come.

This is to be achieved through 10 targets and 15 indicators…”  The objective of SDG 11 talks directly to what we do in parks, leisure, and green spaces.  Our world is changing at a rapid pace and it is important for cities to start designing sustainable parks and open spaces so people can live, work and thrive in their communities.  

Webinar objectives:

  • Identify sites in South Africa which highlight the state of existing public spaces,
  • Describe strategies for addressing social and primary health inequities.
  • Provide scientific based evidence to support the need for transforming spaces

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Maliga Naidoo

Maliga Naidoo has been an advocate and activist for quality public spaces for the last 30 years. Having an Exercise and Leisure Science academic background, she has served on the boards of national and international organisations. 

 She lectured at the University for 7 years and felt the calling of the community far greater than an academic environment. She loves to be outdoors hiking in the mountains and enjoying the sun on the beach.

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