HEALTHY CITIES for embedding health in urban planning policies
Edited on26 August 2020
The climate crisis, as well as unhealthy lifestyles in urban environments, are closely interlinked with urban planning.
The URBACT Healthy Cities Network, launched in September 2019, brings together 9 partners facing different challenges with different policy needs to develop a common framework that will generate methodologies and approaches to improve health through urban planning. The project proposes to create a network of cities to deepen the relationship between health and the urban environment, develop policies that focus on improving the health status of the population; as well as collating and enriching approaches for health impact assessment of these policies. Partners will consider actions from different points of view and through different policies, but the global health perspective will provide a common framework, allowing for the sharing of methodologies.
The ambitious partners that have embarked on this journey to become Healthy Cities are: the city of Vic (ES), the lead partner, the municipality of Farkadona (EL), the city of Pärnu (EE), the town of Falerna (IT), the city of Anyksciai (LT), the municipality of Loulé (PT), the city of Alphen aan den Rijn (NL), the city of Bradford (UK) and the planning authority of Malta.
How does a city become a healthy city?
Firstly, it is important to clarify what we mean by the term “Healthy City”. As defined back in 1991 by the World Health Organisation (WHO) “a Healthy City is not one that has achieved a particular health status. Rather, a Healthy City is conscious of health and striving to improve it. It continually creates and improves its physical and social environments and expands community resources that enable people to mutually support each other in performing all the functions of life and developing to their maximum potential”.
Under this definition, the 9 partners will create working groups focused on various topics that consider the urban determinants that affect health. They will give emphasis to embedding health in policies that are not traditionally related to health and healthcare (such as land use, urban planning, mobility, transportation). They will advocate for the increase of green spaces and encourage their use, so not only the environment will improve (cleaner air) but also people will live healthier lives.
- Integration of urban green spaces (restoration of existing spaces, create new) for health and well-being in the overall city strategy and policies.
- Involvement of stakeholders and citizens in the planning, development and use of public spaces to create awareness and improve their overall physical and mental health.
- Obesogenic environments: tackling sedentary and unhealthy lifestyles, with a particular focus on young people.
- Specific urban problems: air and noise pollution, heat, water management.
- Health inequalities and improve social cohesion.
Submitted by Van Herk Sebastiaan on