In the coming decades 70% of the world’s population will be living in urban areas. This phenomenon of urbanisation will increase and intensify the role of cities. In this context, the CoR’s Commission for Natural Resources (NAT) adopted on 30 March an opinion on “Health in cities as a common good” in Brussels, with a set of recommendations in priority policy areas such as urban planning, mobility, environment and healthy diet, education, sport and governance.
Local and regional leaders urge to set up a new partnership on health in the Urban Agenda for the EU, in order to build up a culture of joint planning and to promote health in urban settings in various policies areas and among national governments, regions, cities and individuals. They also pointed out that “healthy cities” can only be built if regions and cities put clear policies in place to improve existing forms of welfare and opt for new generative and participatory models.
Roberto Pella (IT/EPP), rapporteur of the opinion, also drew the attention on the importance of safeguarding the welfare of the most vulnerable groups, particularly women and children, and of groups prone to medical conditions such as disease and disability: “Inequalities and socio-economic gaps are rising, especially in urban areas where 70% of the world population is going to live by 2050 . Active policies should therefore be implemented in cities to improve the quality of life and increase awareness on health issues and healthy lifestyles“.
The NAT commission does not only call for equal access to healthcare, but also for the creation of new models of collaborative multilevel governance in which institutions, businesses, civil society organisations and individuals can contribute to design a fair and common urban system. In this sense, the members propose to set up monitoring centres for health determinants in major urban centres and information centres where local and regional authorities can access and exchange best practices and funding possibilities.
Local and regional authorities recall the pressing need to study and analyse the determinants of health, to assess the problems posed by increased life expectancy and review welfare mechanisms using data on population structure. They acknowledge that population ageing and the associated rise in chronic diseases are problematic with regard to healthcare and welfare systems sustainability, which makes the promotion of measures to implement policies focusing on health determinants essential to ensure the growth of smart, sustainable and inclusive cities.