an important factor in public health. The health in action file no. 459, March 2022.

Along with housing, socioeconomic situation, living conditions, pollution and exposure to annoyance, urban planning is an important but largely underestimated factor in population health. Inappropriate or harmful urban planning harms the health of the residents living there; but there are solutions, such as ‘healthy urbanism’, a concept that is evolving.

Healthy Urban Planning: Promoting decisions that minimize people’s exposure to risk factors

The aim of health-friendly urban planning is the systematic consideration of the consequences of urban planning and development projects for quality of life, well-being and the environment. This includes promoting choices that minimize population exposure to risk factors such as air pollution, noise pollution, social isolation, etc. and maximize their exposure to risk factors such as protection such as engaging in physical activity through active mobility (non-motorized travel such as walking or cycling), access to medical care or green spaces, etc.; all with the aim of reducing social and territorial inequalities in health.

Seven years after the publication of a dossier on urban planning and pro-health developments, this new edition of La Santé en action is a testament to the advances and advances in the field. The context has evolved: climate change and its impact on the physical and mental health and quality of life of the population is becoming increasingly known and visible. Recognition of the complex interrelationships between human health, animal health, environmental health and ecosystems has led to the emergence of three WHO-promoted concepts: health in all policies, planetary health and one health. These approaches are gradually being integrated into public policies, for example in France in the 4th National Environmental Health Plan.

Healthy urban planning: state of knowledge

The “current state of knowledge” part of the dossier classifies the topic of health-friendly urban planning in these developments and recalls the synergies between public health measures, approaches to protecting the environment and biodiversity, combating and adapting to climate change. Advances in recent years have thus shown that healthy urban planning provides a framework to understand and capture the links between development, determinants of health, health status and the environment, and social and territorial inequalities in health. Logic.

Health promoting urban planning is now being encouraged and applied more widely, with several feedbacks. The reported examples testify to the need for a common culture between public health actors and planning actors, but also to the general dynamics at work.

Health-promoting urban planning: the emblematic case of cities particularly vulnerable to the climate challenge…

Several articles focus on health in urban areas, home to 55% of the world’s population, a proportion that is expected to rise to 68% by 2050. Cities are particularly vulnerable to climate risks (extreme events, systemic crises) and environmental risks (air pollution, heat wave, noise, etc.).

…but there are solutions

Faced with this situation, there are accessible and effective strategies that are favorable in terms of climate, biodiversity and public health. Local authorities can act provided they develop a strong desire for cross-sectoral collaboration. Establishing organizations and ad hoc decision-making processes should be a priority for elected officials, city departments and other regional planning stakeholders. These must make it possible to address the issues of adaptation to climate change, protection of biodiversity and public health in a concerted manner and to propose creative and evidence-based solutions adapted to the local context.

Some examples of implemented local measures

Articles report on the experiences of the Urban Community of Dunkirk making public transport free and Miramas demolishing and rebuilding a popular neighbourhood, with eyes on air quality, access to health and social services, social cohesion and physical activity are directed. Nutrition, but also other similar approaches in Rennes, Grenoble, Echirolles, Villeurbanne, Besançon, as well as in Lyon and Toulouse with the testimony of urban planners and researchers.

Examples of measures carried out abroad

This file also highlights the experiences of five cities abroad on healthy urban planning: Glasgow (Scotland), La Chaux-de-Fonds (Switzerland), Pontevedra (Spain), Lathi (Finland) and Sherbrooke (Quebec).

In all, about twenty researchers and professionals in the field contributed to this edition, including the World Health Organization, and this shows how cities such as Lima (Peru), Freetown (Sierra Leone) have embraced the issue of urban planning as a determinant of social and territorial inequalities in the health sector.

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