The contribution of urban green and blue spaces to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals: an evidence gap map

Christopher Tate*, Ruoyu Wang, Selin Akaraci, Catherine Burns, Leandro Garcia, Mike Clarke, Ruth Hunter*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
47 Downloads (Pure)


Urban green and blue spaces (UGBS) have the potential to make a significant contribution to the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Research shows the need for UGBS to mitigate the adverse environmental impacts of urbanisation and provide equitable access to resources that reduce social and health inequalities. However, no previous review has attempted to consolidate this evidence within the context of the SDGs. The aim of this study was to review the evidence pertaining to the role of UGBS in achieving the SDGs and identify important knowledge gaps. Using systematic review methods, we developed an evidence gap map of the literature that explores the role of UGBS in the achievement of the SDGs. Five databases (Scopus, MEDLINE, PubMed, EMBASE, and GreenFILE) were searched for studies published since 2015 that investigated at least one outcome that corresponded to the SDGs. Following screening, study characteristics were extracted, and the data were imported into EPPI-Mapper to create the interactive evidence gap map. In total n = 1872 studies were identified. Following screening, n = 181 eligible studies were included in the evidence synthesis. The majority of studies focused on the impact of UGBS on health and wellbeing (SDG3; n = 115), pollution, and urban heat island effects (SDG11 and SDG13; n = 73 and n = 46, respectively). SDGs that were not addressed by the studies included SDG5 (gender equality), SDG9 (industry, innovation and infrastructure), SDG12 (responsible consumptions and production), SDG14 (life below water) and SDG17 (partnership for the goals). In addition, there was a relative lack of studies conducted in low- and middle-income countries. Theoretically, UGBS could contribute to 15 of the 17 SDGs. More research is needed to address the evidence gaps towards SDGs 5,9, and 12. Related research in low- and middle-income countries must also be accelerated and more research is needed that assesses the multifunctional benefits of UGBS, drawing explicit links between UGBS and the SDGs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number104706
Number of pages16
Early online date06 Dec 2023
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2024


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