Healthy living environment

The living environment and health are inextricably linked. The environment in which a person lives can have a positive impact on their physical, mental and social wellbeing. We need to know more about this connection. We are facilitating the development of this knowledge by funding research and connecting various parties, along with policymakers and professional practitioners.

What is a healthy living environment?

We all intuitively sense what constitutes a healthy living environment. People associate the concept with things like healthy behaviour, a clean environment and sustainable housing. It is a broad concept, which cuts across all sectors. In recent years ZonMw has facilitated several studies designed to promote a healthy living environment. These studies are providing more knowledge about how the environment in which people live and work affects their health.

Health is physical, social and mental wellbeing

Over the past few years the term ‘healthy living environment’ has become a widely used umbrella concept. Policymakers and administrators, in particular, also use it to denote a societal challenge which they intend to take up. ZonMw helps by providing knowledge. We define a healthy living environment as one that contributes to people’s physical, social and mental wellbeing. According to this definition, a healthy living environment contributes to health by promoting healthy behaviour and protecting people from risks.

The following subjects fall in the ‘healthy living environment’ category:

Umbrella with 14 topics related to a healthy living environment underneath.
This picture shows the topics that touch on the societal issue healthy living environment: infectious diseases, climate change, microplastics, healthy communities, sustainable healthcare, food environment, mental resilience, accessibility, lifestyle, sport and exercise, socioeconomic health inequalities, health promotion, safety and air quality.

An integrated approach: One Health and Planetary Health

Read about how the integrated multidisciplinary One Health and Planetary Health approaches link changes in the world – things like climate change, microplastics and infectious disease – with their implications for people, animals and the environment.

Policymakers: use knowledge from research

How can we promote healthy behaviour, and protect people from health risks? Policymakers at national, provincial, local and community level face the complex challenge of developing a healthy living environment. These are challenging issues, incorporating spatial, health and social aspects. We encourage policymakers to get together and define suitable objectives on the basis of the knowledge that has been developed. Read more about our healthy living environment policy.

Researchers: help develop knowledge

The environment in which people live and work affects their health. We need to know more about this than we do at present. This kind of knowledge comes from research and from practice. Read about the grants available on the subject of a healthy living environment on this page.

FAIR data

Make your data suitable for reuse and sharing, to contribute to future innovative research. We are seeking a major scientific and social impact from research results, and thus from research data too. If research is to have impact, the data must be reusable so that the outcomes of research can be verified, and so that they can be used in future research.

Our procedures for data management and date stewardship are designed te ensure that data are FAIR, which stands for findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable.


There are regular grants open within the 12 topics that are related to Healthy living environments


Martine Hoofwijk

Senior programme manager Healthy living environment
gezondeleefomgeving [at]

Gerlinde van der Stok

Programme secretary Healthy living environment
gezondeleefomgeving [at]

Ilse Rensen

Programme secretary Healthy living environment
gezondeleefomgeving [at]