6e. Healthy Cities/Communities

Track chairs:

Bento, Antonio, Director of Center for Sustainability Solutions, University of South California. abento@price.usc.edu

Goals and Objectives


The concept of healthy cities was brought forward by WHO in 1986. Since then, it has been promoted worldwide, and the Europe has been the pioneer, and lead the healthy city movement. It has shifted its mindset from a health-care system focusing on disease treatment to the one that combines disease treatment, disease prevention, and social welfare. And the responsibility has been transferred from health professionals to the whole society, especially the local governments. But this movement in Europe does not go all the way smoothly, instead up and down (De Leeuw and Simos, 2017a). In these years, healthy cities movement has turned to be strong under the guidance of WHO in Europe and has been reinvigorated in Americas. However, in Asia, Healthy Cities have their diverse governance and management models.

Particularly, China has its own path in the healthy movement. Before extensive urbanization took place, in 1989, China launched the Hygienic City program, aiming at the improvement of environment and health management. In 1997, an advanced Hygienic Township movement stepped in, which evaluated all the cities and townships from eight aspects with around 200 indicators. Those indicators include health education, administration and promotion, environmental quality, sanitation, food and water safety, public health and health-care services and so on. By far, there have been around 260 of the 769 cities in China has been qualified as the national Hygienic City and the health movement has great contribution to the increase of life expectancy from 35 years in the 1950s to 68 years in 1990, and to 76 years in 2015 (Yang, Wang, Zeng, et al.).

However, the skyrocketing development in China, especially rapid urbanization, has brought forward more challenges to urban health in China. Specifically, those challenges come from severe environmental pollution, large-scale rural to urban migration, and diet and lifestyle changes. From 1978 to 2015, the urbanization rate increased from 18% to 56% and the increasing trend is expected to go on till 2030. Fast and extensive urbanization has brought China some common problems, such as traffic congestion, heavier mental stress, unrelenting working pace and noise pollution, and in addition, more specific ones, such as severe air pollution, unaffordable housing, food insecurity, unequal access to high-quality education and health-care service, garbage mountains surrounding cities, the loss of the sense of community and huge disparity in wealth. Those problems make urban residents experience increasing health problems and different disease patterns. To tackle this issue, in 2012, the Ministry of Health proposed "Healthy China" as a national strategy to achieve the health standards of middle-income countries by 2020. Later on, at the National Conference on Hygiene and Health on Aug 19, 2016, President Xi Jingping announced that China has entered a health-oriented development stage and a new national guideline, Healthy China 2030, was issued in the same year. Though the concepts of healthy cities and hygienic cities are not the same, they share similar goals. And hygienic cities could be considered as part of healthy cities. It is clear that to solve these urban health problems, the synergistic cooperation between all the governmental agencies, the private and public sectors, and the general public is needed.

The local governments in China are actively seeking effective ways of achieving healthy cites, represented by Lishui District of Nanjing. On one hand, Lishui examined its own specific issues/challenges, and on the other hand, Lishui looks out for more international experiences that they could learn from. On this track, the main topics are as follows, but are not limited to them:

1)     How to encourage public participation in the construction of healthy community?

2)     What kind of urban planning could reduce the footprint of activities within the city and give citizens more pleasant space for exercises and recreation?

3)     How to effectively realize the collection and separation of municipal wastes and further recycle them?



World Life Expectancy. Health profile: China. http://www.worldlifeexpenctancy.com/country-health-profile/China (accessed Jan 2, 2019).

Yang, G., Wang, Y., Zeng, Y., et al. (2010) Rapid health transition in China, 1990 - 2010:findings from the Global Burden of Disease Study. Lancet 2013

De Leeuw, E. (2017) Cities and health from the Neolithic to the Anthropocene. In De Leeuw, E. and Simos, J. (eds). Healthy Cities - The Theory, Policy, and Practice of Value-based Urban Planning. Springer, New York, pp. 3-30

You may submit your abstract by visiting the Ex Ordo abstract submission system (you will be required to setup an account first): http://isdrs2019.exordo.com
Deadline for abstracts:  15 December 2018 31 January 2019