Limerick will be involved in a €10.5m EU project to transform environmental and human health in cities.
The four-year Go Green Routes project, led by the University of Limerick (UL), will position the cities as world ambassadors of urban sustainability.
The other cities involved are Burgas (Bulgaria), Lahti (Finland), Umea (Sweden) and Versailles (France).
It will also lay a foundation for future implementation in the German city of Munich, the Murcia region of Spain and in the Gzira municipality of Malta.
The project, co-ordinated at the Health Research Institute at UL and involving a 39-member consortium, will commence in September.
The effect of public health measures introduced due to Covid-19 will be taken into consideration.
Scientists will look at how the coronavirus lockdown reduced air pollution in cities and how public health measures affected urban citizens’ mental health.
Project co-ordinator at UL, Tadhg MacIntyre, said people flocked to green spaces during lockdown to manage their mental and physical health and connect with their communities.
Dr Mcintyre said they needed to optimise how nature was integrated into urban spaces.
UL will receive €1.6m to fund a team of doctoral and postdoctoral researchers and a project manager, while Limerick City and Council will receive €530,000.
Other Irish partners will share €3.68m, including several social enterprises, Trinity College Dublin and Technical University Dublin.
The project also has partners in China, Mexico and Georgia that will allow a wider exchange and focus on mental health and well-being.
UL Chancellor, Mary Harney, who spoke at the virtual project launch, said that as a former minister of health, she was acutely aware of the links between human and environmental health.
She played a leading role in banning smokey coal in Dublin in 1990 that significantly reduced air pollution and improved health.
“We need to be ambitious in how we promote health in cities, through active travel, renaturing streets and ensuring nature and people are at the nexus of urban life," she said.