Enhancing active mobility on the Dutch Caribbean island of Bonaire

Published: 22 January 2024

In recent years, action has been called for to increase physical activity levels globally, especially amongst vulnerable population groups. It has been suggested that incorporating physical activity levels into the daily lives of the most inactive population groups – particularly through walking and cycling – can provide impactful benefits to public and planetary health. Global physical activity levels vary region by region, and data suggest that low levels of physical activity exist amongst members of Caribbean population groups. Moreover, high levels of obesity, mortality and morbidity have been highlighted amongst Caribbean populations. The Caribbean Dutch municipality of Bonaire is no different, with data suggesting that 60% of Bonaire residents experience overweight, obesity, and other (oftentimes preventable) health conditions.

Photo credit: Rita Gemerts

Bonaire is a small island (population approx. 25000) which lies 80km from the coast of Venezuela and represents the B in the ABC islands, accompanying Aruba and Curaçao. In 2024 the Urban Cycling Institute is embarking on a project supported by the Netherlands’ Ministry of Public Health to increase physical activity levels on Bonaire through active mobility. A multidisciplinary team comprising of researchers from the Urban Cycling Institute, staff from the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports and key local stakeholders from a variety of sectors on the island of Bonaire will work together to help enhance physical activity and health equity on the island. A key player in the project is Rita Gemerts of Ray-Action, who will act as an embedded citizen scientist providing context-specific knowledge of the island, stakeholder networks, and local level programmes and interventions.

Photo credit: Rita Gemerts

This 4 year project will culminate in the development of a suite of evidence based policy recommendations which will support the population of Bonaire to be more physically active. Most importantly, the project is underpinned by community based participatory research. Involving local stakeholders and citizens from the outset – and throughout the entire process – will ensure the resulting policy actions will be developed for Bonaire, by Bonaire.

Photo credit: Rita Gemerts

If you have any questions in relation to the project, please do not hesitate to contact Dr Dylan Power (Senior Researcher at Urban Cycling Institute) at [email protected]

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