The natural environment has a significant impact on many systems in our economy — food, energy, transportation, health care, water, and land development. Healthy, clean environments free from environmental hazards and pathogens are necessary for community and individual well-being. Protecting the natural environment is essential to mitigating climate change, preserving water and air quality, reducing stress and improving mental health, and increasing opportunities for recreation, socialization, and connection with the natural world and each other.
Everyone — regardless of ability or transportation access — needs access to high-quality green spaces and nature. Development and preservation efforts must prioritize accessible design and equitable proximity to neighborhoods. Environmental preservation efforts must prioritize consideration of tribes and respect for cultural norms. We must adapt systems and behaviors to prevent high-impact environmental events — and reduce their impact when they do happen. We can reduce the impacts of natural hazards through resilience of built infrastructure, including using nature-based solutions and applying recovery-related models to inform long-term development and planning decisions that strengthen steady-state assets. These efforts contribute to sustaining the natural environment and spaces essential to well-being.
Thriving Natural World includes:
- Accessible natural spaces
- Clean air, water, and soil
- Freedom from extreme environments and pathogens
- Healthy, sustainable ecosystems
- Nearly 134 million people live in communities with unsafe levels of ozone or particulate matter.
- More than 2 million Americans have no running water or a working toilet at home — and American Indians and Alaska Natives are most likely to have trouble accessing water.
- More than half of Black Americans have a higher health burden from air pollution than the overall population.