A team of UNU researchers from UNU-IAS and the UNU International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH) in Kuala Lumpur, led by Prof. Anthony Capon (Director, UNU-IIGH), participated in the Xiamen Expert Workshop, organized by the International Council for Science’s interdisciplinary programme on Health and Wellbeing in the Changing Urban Environment: a Systems Analysis Approach. This workshop was hosted by the Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS-IUE) on 8–10 December 2014, bringing together leading global health, environmental and social scientists to launch the programme and define priorities in global research on urban health and wellbeing. Participants included scientific experts from more than 20 countries and every continent in a wide range of fields, from urban planning and epidemiology to development economics, engineering and public health.
The newly-initiated programme will respond to the pressing need for better understanding of the underlying structures and processes that influence human health in cities. Currently, global urban populations are growing by more than 1 million people every week, in a context of uncertainty over the effects of climate change, resource depletion and other overarching drivers of human welfare in the 21st century. Protecting and promoting health will increasingly depend on decisions made within and about urban systems. Through the application of systems approaches, including interdisciplinary quantitative modelling in an eco-social framework and the co-production of knowledge with non-scientific stakeholders, the programme will seek solutions for improving urban design and management and bettering the lives of billions of urban dwellers worldwide.
UNU co-sponsors the urban health and wellbeing programme, together with the Interacademy Medical Panel (IAMP), and was involved extensively in planning and preparing the workshop, which featured the inauguration of the International Programme Office, also hosted by CAS-IUE, and the signing of a memorandum of understanding between CAS-IUE and UNU-IIGH to further their collaboration on research and capacity-building in urban health. UNU research input to the global programme is led by UNU-IAS and UNU-IIGH, focusing on interdisciplinary urban issues.
Read the BBC coverage on the new urban health and wellbeing initiative.