Building Healthy, Equitable Communities - The Role of Inclusive Urban Development and Investment





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Oct 10, 2018
by Anna Rawe
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Building Healthy, Equitable Communities - The Role of Inclusive Urban Development and Investment

Health and urban planning professionals from more than 15 countries convene in Salzburg to explore how urban environments can affect health and the public good Photo by Blake Wheeler on Unsplash

Over half of the world’s population live in urban areas. As that number continues to rise to unprecedented levels, the question of how this affects our health becomes much more urgent to answer.

Cities appear to be in the midst of rapid change with new building developments and gentrification increasingly becoming defining fixtures. Despite this, inequality still remains constant.

Cities have a symbiotic relationship with the people who live in them. As demographics fluctuate, how can they adapt to meet the needs of aging populations, millennials or rising obesity levels?

Key to this is the symbiotic relationship between people and public transport, as well as who has access to and ownership of different spaces and areas within a city. How can housing, alternative transportation methods, and parks be distributed to allow access to a higher number of people? Furthermore, do these changes ensure that everyone has a fair and just opportunity to be healthier?

Essential to this discussion is looking at how communities can take ownership of these changes and a how a shared sense of community can be fostered, combatting the inherent compartmentalization of cities.

Citizen science and data could perhaps be a new area through which we can ensure the health benefits of new changes are spread equably through communities and is one of many new trends that policymakers and community advocates must investigate and respond to.

As part of Salzburg Global Seminar's Health and Health Care Innovation multi-year series, 60 health and urban planning experts will convene at Schloss Leopoldskron, in Salzburg, Austria, for Building Healthy, Equitable Communities: The Role of Inclusive Urban Development and Investment.

Partnering with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, this five-day program will see participants investigate how action can be taken at local and regional levels and identify innovative approaches which can be incorporated into best practice. This program follows on from last year's program, Building Healthy Communities: The Role of Hospitals, which looked at how we can create a culture of health that goes beyond purely treating illnesses in hospitals.

From Thursday, participants will share their knowledge and experiences from working in vastly different communities in countries all over the world. Participants have engaged with these issues from standpoints varying from citizen groups, central government agencies, nature conservationists and beyond and will come together in working groups to create practical solutions.

John Lotherington, program director at Salzburg Global Seminar responsible for health and health care, said, "We're very much looking forward to this second in our present series of programs collaborating with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. We will be looking at the conditions which can create and protect health and wellbeing and going beyond the traditional focus on health care for when people get sick. 

"Here we'll be thinking about how much-added value can be gained when urban planners and place-makers, and those responsible for housing, for transportation, for green spaces, engage with each other and communities to realize fully the impact they can achieve on health.  This is going to be an exciting exploration of how we can make healthier cities."

The program Building Healthy, Equitable Communities: The Role of Inclusive Urban Development and Investment is part of Salzburg Global Seminar's multi-year series Health and Health Care Innovation. This year's program is held in partnership with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Keep up to date with the conversations taking place during the program. Follow #SGShealth on Twitter and Instagram.