Green public spaces and sustainable cities in South and Southeast Asia: Integrating needs and societal wellbeing

How do green public spaces meet the human needs and contribute to the societal wellbeing in urban settings and according to cultural context and across social groups?


The significance of green public spaces towards sustainability is well documented in relation to both social inclusiveness and environmental promotion. Yet the relation between green public spaces, societal wellbeing, and sustainable city development is less understood. This research assumes that green public spaces can act as synergic satisfiers towards human wellbeing, in that they provide satisfaction for a diversity of needs, but how this plays out in practice may differ according to the cultural context and across social groups. With a focus on four coastal mega-cities of South and Southeast Asia, this proposal seeks to understand human needs in relation to green public spaces as a satisfier towards societal wellbeing in relation to three main questions:

  • How do people practice green public spaces in daily life, in relation to material arrangements, dispositions, and social norms?
  • Towards what needs and for whom do green public spaces act as satisfiers?
  • What are the implications for the management of green public spaces and urban planning, at the local and cross-regional level?

Inter- and trans-disciplinary methods will be applied to field research in: Chennai (Republic of India), Metro Manila (Republic of the Philippines), Shanghai (People’s Republic of China) and Singapore (Republic of Singapore). The timing is critical: in emerging economies, green public spaces are increasingly being encroached upon by commercial and state interests, posing direct threats to sustainability. By uncovering opportunities for promoting more sustainable urban development and societal flourishing, this research proposal is relevant to cities in the region and beyond.


  • Sustainable consumption
  • Green public spaces
  • Societal wellbeing
  • China
  • India
  • the Philippines
  • Singapore


  • Environment
  • Philosophy
  • Sociology


International Organizations:

  • UNEP – Sustainable Consumption and Production Branch
  • UNEP – Asia Pacific Office

Relevant Countries

  • Developing countries
  • Emerging countries
  • China
  • India
  • Philippines
  • Singapore


This is an ongoing project, which started in autumn 2017. The information here is updated regularly. If you have any inquiries please don’t hesitate to contact the project team via the form below.

Contact the project team

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Research team

Marlyne Sahakian
Université de Genève

Czarina Saloma Akpedonu
Principal Member
Ateneo de Manila University – Quezon City

Dunfu Zhang
Principal Member
Shanghai University

Manisha Anantharaman
Principal Member
Saint Mary’s College of California

Regula Von Büren
Associated Member
Nanyang Technological University

Antonietta Di Giulio
Universität Basel

Srikanth Narasimalu
Principal Member
Nanyang Technological University

Janet Salem
Associated Member
UNEP United Nations Environment Programme

Garrette Clark
Associated Member
UNEP United Nations Environment Programme