Movement – The World Health Organisation’s Healthy Cities movement
"Sustainable cities" refer to many things. They may represent green cities, smart cities, compact cities, 2-tier cities, future cities, knowledge cities, walkable cities or even transition or tidy towns. All in all, as "sustainability" refers to both social and environmental justice, these all are "healthy cities". The World Health Organisation’s Healthy Cities/ Communities Initiative acknowledges several of these aspects with their network that unites thousands of cities, towns and villages across the world.
The WHO Healthy Cities program supports the development of healthy cities (according to the WHO website) by:
- engaging with local governments through a process of political commitment, institutional change, capacity building, partnership-based planning and innovative projects.
- promoting comprehensive and systematic policy and planning with a special emphasis on health inequalities and urban poverty, the needs of vulnerable groups, participatory governance and the social, economic and environmental determinants of health.
- striving to include health considerations in economic, regeneration and urban development efforts.
The program has several phases, which commenced in 2003 and has now entered its fourth phase. Phase IV focuses on the core themes of healthy ageing, healthy urban planning and health impact assessment, while all participating cities also focus on physical activity and active living.
The goals of the WHO Healthy Cities Initiative (according to the WHO website) are:
- to promote policies and action for health and sustainable development at the local level and across the Europe;
- to increase the accessibility of the WHO European Network to all Member States in the European Region;
- to promote solidarity, cooperation and working links between European cities and networks and with those participating in the Healthy Cities movement in other WHO regions;
- to strengthen the standing of Healthy Cities in countries’ policies for health development, public health and urban regeneration;
- to play an active role in advocating health at global levels through partnerships with other agencies;
- and to generate policy and practice expertise, good evidence and case studies that can be used to promote health in all cities in the Region.
For more information about the WHO Healthy Cities Initiative, please visit their website.