Urban Health Network for Latin America and the Caribbean Event at World Urban Forum Emphasizes Global Collaboration
The event focused on how different city stakeholders can improve the health of their cities in various dimensions, while taking advantage of the multiple co-benefits these improvements will bring in other key areas.
March 16, 2018
By Juliet Braslow, MSc
The ways in which cities are built, organized and governed have important implications for human well-being, health, productivity and environmental sustainability, all of which are necessary to achieve the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Additionally, integrating health into urban planning, investments and policy is vital to support the implementation and realization of the targets and objectives of the SDGs, New Urban Agenda (NUA), and other global frameworks.
At the recent World Urban Forum (WUF9) in February 2018, members of the Urban Health Network for Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC-Urban Health), which includes representation from 18 countries, United Nations University, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Wellcome Trust-funded Salud Urbana en América Latina (SALURBAL) project hosted a networking event. The event, titled “Urban health as a unifying framework for sustainable development in Latin American Cities” provided fertile ground for discussing how health-relevant public policies and programs can also help deliver SDG objectives in cities across the globe. Through its presentations and group discussions, the event focused on how different city stakeholders can improve the health of their cities in various dimensions, while taking advantage of the multiple co-benefits these improvements will bring in other key areas, such as environmental sustainability and social equality.
This discussion capitalized on the diverse groups of actors present at WUF9 to create a space of collaboration and dialogue among key city stakeholders. Participants’ backgrounds spanned medicine, health management, research, and civil society, among others. A main conclusion around which participants reached consensus is that multidimensional urban challenges require multidimensional, multi-sector, multi-level, and integrated approaches. Lasting solutions for these challenges require conversations across sectors and levels of government, even seeking out unexpected collaborators. Identifying stakeholders in each context leads to an understanding of urban health champions and blockers to target the appropriate individuals and groups to cultivate a diverse base of support. Additionally, we must also integrate new voices from the diverse actors in urban areas: women, youth, indigenous groups, as well as vulnerable populations. Promising strategies for engaging these groups include participatory approaches to community and neighborhood-level planning and decision-making.
One of the most valuable contributions of the networking event is that it provided a forum for South-South knowledge exchange, an opportunity for urban practitioners and researchers from Latin America and other parts of the globe to come together to deepen collaborations and share lessons and strategies. The event strengthened existing partnerships, encouraged new alliances and identified the potential for joint urban health initiatives towards the successful implementation and monitoring of these agendas in the region.
- Conversations across sectors and levels of governance are needed to improve urban health
- Efforts should focus on prioritizing health in public agendas and policies
- Better health in cities is linked to social equality and environmental sustainability
- Coordination between governments, civil society, and academia can fill knowledge gaps in policy implementation and evaluation and evidence-based practices
This post was written by Juliet Braslow, an Associate Social Affairs Officer at the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (Chile), as a guest contribution to Cities, Sectors, and Health, run by the SALURBAL Project. To contact the blog or learn more about the SALURBAL project email firstname.lastname@example.org