Both globally and nationally, there has been increasing recognition of a need for action in building “healthy communities”. Healthy, thriving, and livable cities and regions are critical to the New Urban Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals in particular SDG 11: Sustainable cities and communities.
Young people are growing up in environments that struggle to meet their needs and the challenge they afront is to be improved as change agents and equal partners and contributors.
While cities can bring many challenges, they can also bring opportunities for better health, cleaner environment and climate action. Strong urban policies must match those challenges since health is essential for fostering good urban livelihoods, building a productive workforce, creating resilient and vibrant communities, enabling mobility, promoting social interaction, and protecting vulnerable populations.
Strategic urban planning will be the key to creating supportive and enabling environments for health, making sure that health and equity considerations are integrated throughout the planning process, investments, and policy decisions based on local needs and assets.
Today, national healthy cities networks have been established in 30 European countries, and they involve about 1500 cities. Of these, 20 national networks have received WHO accreditation. These 20 national networks alone represent 1137 local governments with a combined population of 156 million people. Providing opportunities for exchange, learning and building capacity to implement the healthy cities approach is at the heart of all national network activities. This includes sharing knowledge generated in cities and the best practices and recommendations available nationally and internationally .
The health and well-being of their citizens is perhaps a region’s most important asset. Hippocrates of Cos stated that “prevention is better than cure”. Good regions and cities are those who keep their residents healthy, not only one who could cure them.