Raising the bar on improving the public’s health at Healthy City Design International Congress 2019

This year the theme of the annual Healthy City Design International Congress, ‘Designing for utopia or dystopia? People and planetary health at a crossroads’, reflects a tipping point in which people’s health and wellbeing are becoming a central consideration in healthy city design and place-making. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines a healthy city as “one that is continually creating and improving those physical and social environments and expanding those community resources which enable people to mutually support each other in performing all the functions of life and developing to their maximum potential”. Policy makers and practitioners have always understood these relationships between the quality of the physical built and natural environment with people’s physical and mental wellbeing. But actions have been piecemeal. Concerns for air pollution, poor mental health, rising obesity, lack of physical activity and community disempowerment in the place-making process have reached a tipping point. There is now an increasing commitment for a concerted effort to building a healthier 21st century city.  

In recognising the many relationships it takes to create a healthy city, the Congress provided 20 sessions of around 89 presentations and workshops for participants to hear and absorb the range of research, policy development and practice. From healthy new towns and neighbourhoods to designing for mental wellbeing, there was a wealth of expertise and knowledge which participants had access to. Many, if not all of the sessions, touched upon issues that were of interest to Emerald’s Open Research Platforms.

In order to realise visions of healthy cities, there was a clear indication that non-built environment professions such as artists, musicians and public health, for example through Public Health England Healthy Places programme, will need to work more effectively with architects, planners, housebuilders and engineers.

The evidence of what works is overwhelming and the onus is now on all those with a stake and responsibility in planning, designing, building and managing our neighbourhoods, towns and cities to take the appropriate course of action and change the status quo. This move towards a whole systems, cross-disciplinary and life course approach to healthy city design and place-making for everyone and anyone, including our natural environment, means that we should all be able to live and thrive on this planet in a sustainable and healthy way. Participation in future Healthy City Design International Congresses will help to keep the healthy cities agenda high up on the civic agenda, and these calls for action will only work if everyone takes small but meaningful action in our daily professional settings

Article Details

Michael Chang ,
Programme Manager - Planning and Health, Healthy Places, Public Health England

Date Published:

October 28th, 2019


, ,

Would you like to contribute to our Real Impact blog? Find out how.

Recent News & Blogs

- Discover impact news from across the globe

Digital outcasts & COVID19

Professor Simon Rogerson

This morning is day 17 of my self-isolation thanks to #coronavirus. The world has changed. The social glue has come unstuck and we have turned to technology to allow us to live and keep us connected. Communication channels keep us informed of the latest developments, advice and restrictions. Social media is keeping our social groups

Read Article

Gender and Entrepreneurship Research: A lot done, more to do?

Professor Lene Fossolette,Professor Colette Henry & Professor Kate Lewis

By Professor Lene Fossolette- Jönköping University, Professor Colette Henry- Dundalk Insitute of Technology & Professor Kate Lewis- Manchester Metropolitan University When we started the International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship (IJGE) in 2008, we intended it as a dedicated academic platform for research scholarship on international women’s entrepreneurship. We also wanted to support young scholars

Read Article

The evolving digital divide : from the first to the third level

Massimo Ragnedda and Maria Laura Ruiu

The rise of Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) was seen at the beginning as an opportunity for freedom of information, and to level up existing inequalities (Rheingold, 1993; Negroponte, 1995). However, scholars realized soon that access to ICTs would give an advantage to specific citizens/users (Resnick, 1998; Hargittai, 2000). The term “digital divide” emerged to describe

Read Article

We use cookies to enhance your online experience. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to accept them in accordance with our cookie policy or you can .

Emerald Logo

Privacy and information

You can find further information about our privacy policy here.

Strictly Necessary Cookies

Strictly Necessary Cookies should be enabled at all times so that we can save your preferences for cookie settings and ensure that the website works correctly, for example logging into the website.

If you disable these cookies, we will not be able to save your preferences and you may not be able to log in to the website. This means that every time you visit this website you will need to enable or disable cookies again.

You can find further information about our cookie policy here.

Third Party Cookies

This website uses Google Analytics to collect anonymous information such as the number of visitors to the site, and the most popular pages.

Keeping this cookie enabled helps us to improve our website.

You can find further information about our cookie policy here.

Privacy and information

You can find further information about our privacy policy here.

To enjoy the full experience of our website please .