Quality of life is totally related to the quality of environment because our mental and physical well-being is dependent on our surrounding and the kind of people we live with. Although the environment is usually discussed within the context of sustainability , it is equally important for an individual’s quality of life. Environmental conditions not only affect human health and well being directly, but also indirectly, as they may have adverse effects on ecosystems, biodiversity or even more extreme consequences such as natural disasters or industrial accidents.
Quality of life is concerned with the overall well being in society. The concept of quality of life has three main characteristics-
- It reflects the individuals’ life situations and their perceptions rather than a country’s quality of life,
- It is a multidimensional concept which covers multiple life domains such as housing conditions, education, employment, work-life balance, access to institutions and public services and their interplay, and
- It brings together objective information on living conditions with subjective views and attitudes to provide a picture of overall well being in society.
Environment quality has always been one of the most important components of the quality of life. The environment plays a crucial role in people’s physical, mental and social well-being. The degradation of the environment, through air pollution, noise pollution, chemicals, poor quality water and loss of natural areas, combined with lifestyle changes, may be contributing to substantial increases in the rates of obesity, diabetes, diseases of the cardiovascular and nervous systems and cancer. Reproductive and mental health problems are also on the rise. Asthma, allergies and some types of cancer related to environmental pressures are of particular concern for children. The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated the environmental burden of disease in the Pan-european region at between 15 and 20% of total deaths and 18-20% of disability- adjusted life years, with a relatively higher burden in the eastern part of the region. So, the quality of life and environment is related and we should take care of our environment to increase our quality of life.
When people were given the choice, 62% of respondents say they would prioritise environmental protection over economic growth. Only half of them are satisfied with efforts to preserve the environment in their countries. Notably, 74% of respondents perceive global warming as a very or somewhat serious threat to them and their families and 65% believe that climate change will make their lives harder.
The importance of the natural environment to people is confirmed in nationally representative household surveys. For example, when asked how important environmental protection is for their well being and life satisfaction, 88% of respondents in the German Socio-economic panel study rate it as important or very important. When asked about whether they are concerned about environmental protection, 72% state that they are somewhat or very concerned. Similarly, 70% state that they are somewhat or very concerned about the consequences of climate change.
So far, we have been looking at how our environment affects our happiness around the world, by linking environmental factors, measured at the country level, to the happiness of survey respondents living in the respective country. Poor environmental quality has its greatest impact on people whose health status is already at risk . A certain level of quality which guarantees the inhabitants a sustainable welfare may have, from another point of view, socio-cultural, economic and spatial characteristic. The environment is an essential component of the millennium development Goals.