SHIFT To Make the Business Case for Nature as Medicine

The 2019 SHIFT Festival, which will be held in Jackson, WY, from Oct. 16-18, will focus on the business case for nature as medicine.

The focus marks a refinement of the broader theme of “SHIFT Rx: Nature as Medicine” announced earlier this year. 

It also represents an organic development of last year’s focus, “Public Lands, Public Health,” which catalyzed the May 2019 cover article in Outside Magazine, “The Nature Cure.” 

SHIFT Director Christian Beckwith attributed the evolution to the evaluation process for The 2019 SHIFT Award Official Selections, which were announced last month.

One of the eventual selections, The Oregon Outdoor Recreation Health Impacts Estimator Tool, was used to calculate that Oregonians’ participation in outdoor recreation activities saves the state $1.4 billion annually in health care costs.

Another, The City of Brownsville (TX)’s Lower Rio Grande Valley Active Transportation and Active Tourism Plan, estimated annual health care cost savings of $5.9-$12.3 million from increased physical activity on 291 miles of multi-use trails.

“Convincing elected officials and policy makers to invest in green infrastructure, increased access to nature and nature-rich programming requires sound economic arguments,” said Beckwith. “If we can show that outdoor recreation results in lower costs, improved performance and increased social adjustments, we have a stronger case to make for nature itself.”

As a result of the refined focus, programmatic developments currently under way include a two-day, three-part think tank on the creation of a sustainable revenue model for nature contact through health-care payer dollars; a colloquium on the state of the science on methodologies for the quantification of offset health care cost savings; and a workshop that examines the ways nature contact can help reduce levels of stress, depression, and burnout with active duty service members, thereby reducing the economic costs to the military healthcare system.

A second component of the 2019 program will focus on “implementation:” how public health as an ecosystem service is being put into practice by communities, Parks Rx programs and nature-rich interventions around the country.

Complementing the policy sessions will be lunches, happy hours and evening programming that cross-pollinate the daytime work with opportunities for participants to network and envision the “nature as medicine” movement within a larger context.

“Our objective with this year’s program is to help advance the economic and practical applications of nature as a social determinant of health,” said Beckwith. ”Doing so will create a unique opportunity for stakeholders to advocate for nature as a healthcare delivery system.”

Tickets for the 2019 SHIFT Festival will go on sale August 1. 

Rocket Fuel