Making Cities Healthier
Re-thinking planning for healthy settlements
The urban environment, and the planners and policies that shape it, influences many aspects of health and well-being: the air people breathe and the water they drink, where (or if) they work, the housing that shelters them, where they go for health care, the danger they encounter on the street, who is available for emotional and financial support, and how political power is distributed and public resources allocated.
While the fields of modern city planning and public health emerged together in the 19th century to address urban inequities and infectious diseases, they were largely disconnected for much of the 20th century. How to reconnect the fields of planning and public health to address these and other 21st century urban health challenges is the focus of this program.
The aim of this program is to enhance our understanding on how urbanization and characteristics of urban life influence well-being and what practices and policies can improve the lives of the majority of the world's population now living in cities.
The global challenge
With up to 70 percent of the world’s population living in urban areas by 2050, global well-being will increasingly be determined by the health of urban dwellers. To date, urbanisation has been associated with improvements in income and health outcomes. At the same time, the pressures of urban growth have contributed to the emergence of stark social and health inequalities in cities of the developed and developing world. It is therefore timely to rethink urban health and wellbeing in terms of these ongoing global changes.
Urban health and well-being are the concern of cities worldwide. Health concerns, however, vary according to context. The world’s wealthiest cities are struggling with lifestyle issues of obesity, excess and aging. The world’s emerging cities are struggling with securing enough clean water and proper sanitation. Combatting or controlling disease can be an issue for any city.
Questions that will be raised within this program include:
- How can health be fully integrated with environmental, social and economic concerns in the main statements on land-use planning, transport, housing and economic development policy, placing health at the heart of plan-making?
- How can an active involvement of citizens and stakeholders in the private, public and voluntary sectors in the policy process be strengthened?
- What governance approach is needed for healthy city strategies to succeed?
- What are the implications of population growth in cities for public health?
- Is poor urban design a health hazard?
- Health related inequities and urban pathologies (water, air quality, sanitation, noise, density, open space, social services, access, distribution, quality, urban stress, age specific needs).