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UCL Lancet Healthy Cities Commission

lancet-cover

"The Commission ... proposes a new approach to the analysis and promotion of urban health, one that recognises the uniqueness and complexity of cities."

Richard Horton, Editor of The Lancet

Following the first UCL-Lancet Commission on the Managing the Health Effects of Climate Change (published in The Lancet on 16 May 2009), UCL and The Lancet are collaborating again on a second Commission report. 

The Healthy Cities Commission is a UCL Grand Challenge on Sustainable Cities project on the role that urban planning can and should play in delivering health improvements through reshaping the urban fabric of our cities. The project has involved 19 academics and students from a variety of disciplines led by Yvonne Rydin, Professor of Planning Environment and Public Policy in the UCL Bartlett School of Planning.


Abstract from GCSC Healthy Cities Commission Report

UCL Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities Healthy Cities Commission

Abstract from GCSC Healthy Cities Commission report 

With almost thirty years experience from the Healthy Cities movement, we are increasingly aware of the features that transform a city into a healthy one. What is less well understood is how to deliver the potential health benefits and how to ensure that they reach all citizens in urban contexts across the world. This is an increasingly important task given that the majority of the world’s population already live in cities and that, with current high rates of urbanisation; many millions more will soon do so. We provide an analysis of how health outcomes are part of the complexity of urban processes, arguing against the assumption that urban health outcomes will improve with economic growth and demographic change. Instead, we highlight the role that urban planning can and should play in delivering health improvements through reshaping the urban fabric of our cities. We consider this through case studies of sanitation and wastewater management, urban mobility, building standards, the urban heat island effect and urban agriculture. We follow this with a discussion of the implications of a complexity approach for planning of urban environments, emphasising project-based experimentation and evaluation leading to self-reflection and dialogue.


Key Messages

  • Cities are complex systems, so that health outcomes are emergent properties
  • The urban advantage in health outcomes has to be actively promoted and maintained
  • Inequalities in health outcomes should be recognised at the urban scale
  • A linear or cyclical planning approach is insufficient in conditions of complexity
  • Urban planning for health needs to emphasise experimentation through projects
  • Evaluation leading to dialogue between stakeholders and self-reflection is essential

This is an abstract of a report submitted in February 2012 for publication in The Lancet.

The project has involved 19 academics and students from a variety of disciplines led by Yvonne Rydin, Professor of Planning Environment and Public Policy in the UCL Bartlett School of Planning.