UK Healthy Cities Network

WHO Healthy Cities was initiated by the WHO Regional Office for Europe in the mid-1980s, with the first implementation phase commencing in 1988. 23 years later, the initiative is stronger than ever, having expanded from a smallscale European project to a global movement aimed at reducing health inequalities and promoting health and sustainable development. Now in its fifth five year phase, the WHO Healthy Cities programme engages local authorities and their partners in health development through a process of political commitment, institutional change, capacity building, partnership-based strategy and innovative projects. It promotes comprehensive and systematic policy and planning with a special emphasis on health inequalities and urban poverty, the needs of vulnerable groups, participatory governance and the social, economic and environmental determinants of health. It also strives to include health considerations in economic, regeneration and urban development efforts.

Phase V of the WHO European Healthy Cities Network runs from 2009-2013. Its overarching theme is Health and Health Equity in All Local Policies – and within this context, the three core themes are:

  • Caring and supportive environments. A healthy city should be above all a city for all its citizens, inclusive, supportive, sensitive and responsive to their diverse needs and expectations.
  • Healthy living. A healthy city provides conditions and opportunities that support healthy lifestyles.
  • Healthy urban environment and design. A healthy city offers a physical and built environment that supports health, recreation and well-being, safety, social interaction, easy mobility, a sense of pride and cultural identity and that is accessible to the needs of all its citizens.

Within Europe, there are around 90 cities that are designated as members of the WHO European Healthy Cities Network – including 14 in the UK. In addition, there are approximately 30 national Healthy Cities networks involving more than 1400 cities and towns as members.

The UK has not had a formally designated Healthy Cities National Network since the Health for All Network was wound up a number of years ago. Funding has been secured by the Healthy & Sustainable Settings Unit for the establishment of a new UK Healthy Cities Network, with the following vision:
“The establishment of a supportive network of UK towns and cities that are striving to put health improvement, health equity and tackling health inequalities at the core of all local policy that will become a strong voice influencing healthy public policy in towns and cities throughout the UK.”

The aims of the Network are:

  • to build capacity within UK towns and cities to ensure that health improvement, health equity and tackling health inequalities is embedded in all local policy
  • to facilitate learning through the sharing of best practice across the network
  • to enable wider participation in the WHO European Network of Healthy Cities
  • to enable WHO UK Healthy Cities to inform and influence national and country policy.

Project Lead

Dr Mark Dooris

Project Staff

Jennie Cawood – UK Healthy Cities Network Co-ordinator
Stephen Woods – UK Healthy Cities Network Co-ordinator
Sandra Brookes

Collaborators and Partners

 Various Healthy City initiatives within UK

Funding Organisation

 Department of Health and Belfast Healthy Cities, £231,865

Public Outputs

UK Healthy Cities Network Website