What should be urban planning in the future focus on? No doubt, urban design and transport of the future should have the potential to provide large, long-lasting, and immediate benefits for health and hence are key to healthy and sustainable urban environments for all. This has been widely discussed in a new series in Lancet, which shows how Urban design, transport and health are connected.
“If designed with this perspective in mind, urban design and transport policies (along with other interventions) can provide multiple benefits, including: reducing the upward, trajectory of greenhouse gas emissions, protecting the environment, fostering equity and intergenerational solidarity, and improving our resilience to future potential pandemics,” the authors said.
The authors stressed that designing compact, high-density, pedestrian-friendly and cycling-friendly cities with accessible green spaces that enable sustainable mobility and active lifestyles is crucial for public health and environment. They also said that the study of 25 cities in 19 countries showed that only a few cities, despite many well intentioned policies, had good standards and policy targets to achieve healthy and sustainable cities. The lancet Series shows that ensuring and protecting health and wellbeing through improvements in the design of urban environments can only be achieved through the application of an integrated and multisectoral, multistakeholder approach, guided by policy frameworks that ensure that human and environmental health go hand in hand.
GROWTH OF URBAN POPULATION
At turn of the 20th century, approximately 10 per cent of people lived in cities. By 2050, it is expected that at least two-thirds of the world’s population, or nearly 7 of 10 pople, will live in cities, The tremendous urban growth will occur in low-income and middle-income countries (LMICs).
LOW INCOME COUNTRIES
The Authors in the series note that many city governments do not have sufficient data to implement policies and monitor their progress towards achieving these targets. This is most acute in LMICs in which policy makers have low access to tools to consider health and sustainability when formulating urban policies, the report said. Moreover, LMICs do not have the requisite financial resources to generate locally relevant data, conduct statistical analyse, develop and implement policies, track performance, facilitate stakeholder engagement, and build capacity to strengthen management and governance. Apart from this, the study says that planning policies ignored the large numbers of people living in informal settlements. Rampant. poorly managed, ad-hoc urban growth, population displacement, poor public health infrastructure, and land-grabbing have fuelled inequities in urban areas in these cities, the report said.
The study notes that WHO endorses the importance of urban design and transport for human and planetary health throughout its programme of work as part of a broader approach to urban health, and strives to provide leadership to effectively protect the health and wellbeing of everyone in this generation and future generations through changes to the urban environment.
HERE ARE SOME OF THE FINDINGS
- Elected officials and policymakers need to align better city planning policies with societal goals, public health, and environmental sustainability.
- Integrated cross-sectoral policies are essential to creating economic, environmental, and social benefits for all lobal leaders and stakeholders should take collective action by implementing integrated planning policies to promote healthy and sustantable cities.
- Develop an expanded set of evidence-in formed indicators that measure the consequences of city planning for human and planetary health. These should include changes in biodiversity tree canopy, heat island, levels of low-income housing built in areas prone to floods and fires, distribution of urban infrastructure, levels of crime, traffic injuries, and resources that enable healthy and sustainable development
- Enable sustainable mobility and create healthy and sustainable net zero emission cities Provide equitable access to health-supportive resources, infrastructure and environments
- Reduce residents’ exposure to environmental stressols (such as air and noise pollution)