The conference program will focus on the following six critical sub-themes:
1. Urban health inequities
Urban health inequities have been both illuminated and exacerbated throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. These inequities disproportionately impact vulnerable populations including migrants, ethnic and racial minorities, poor people, and people living in informal settlements, often with limited access to basic services, and those lacking food, labor and/or social protections. The need to address the social determinants of health, including structural inequities and systemic racism in cities, has never been more urgent or apparent. Effective responses must incorporate community participation, intersectoral action, and inclusive governance. We seek studies that describe the impacts of urban health inequities, identify underlying causes, and point to effective policies, strategies and interventions to reduce these inequities.
2. Transforming built environments
Urban environments can have profound effects on human health. The built environments of cities interact with complex social conditions and can promote sustainability and health or aggravate illness and disease. Features of built environments differ markedly between and within cities depending on history, cultural context, scale, land use and more. Policies and programs have the power to transform the built environments of cities and neighborhoods to enhance health, improve heath equity, and promote environmental sustainability. We seek studies that investigate the impact of urban environments on health and real-world examples of successful multisectoral strategies to redesign and transform cities in ways that promote health, health equity and environmental sustainability for all. In particular, examples of lessons and opportunities highlighted by the pandemic are welcomed.
3. Urban governance and public health systems
Governments hold ultimate responsibility for guaranteeing those conditions in which people are able to be as healthy as they can be. Governance for urban health requires political leadership that recognizes the relevance of decisions made in sectors beyond health and healthcare in determining health. Governments also have responsibility for creating and sustaining essential public health systems and infrastructure. Failures to support and expand capacity in the public health system can make it more difficult to advance health in all policies and respond effectively to health emergencies. The authority assigned to city and local governments varies by country, but it is increasingly apparent that the public sector must interact effectively with a growing number of governmental and non-governmental actors to fulfill these responsibilities. We seek evidence from and examples of effective participatory governance models and other actions that city governments have implemented to build public health capacity and strengthen political support for policies across sectors that promote urban health and health equity.
4. Urban health over the lifecourse
The urban setting creates both opportunities for and risks to health across the life course of people living in cities. Many health promotion programs have traditionally been structured around specific life stages, including initiatives targeted at childhood, adolescence, reproductive age, and older adults. However, many of these programs do not specifically address or target the role of the urban environment, and urban development experts and planners are often unaware of the potential health impacts of their interventions. We seek studies and initiatives that document the linkages between the urban setting and policies to promote the health of urban populations at different stages across the life course, and to assess the sustainability of these policies over time.
5. Climate change and urban health
Climate change is a major driver of urban health. Cities are especially susceptible to the adverse impacts of warming, sea-level rise, and increasingly frequent and severe extreme events. These impacts are inequitably distributed, and they are disproportionately experienced by vulnerable urban populations. Cities, in turn, play an important role in driving climate change. Urban areas contribute significantly to energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and resource consumption – and present unique opportunities to mitigate environmental impacts, adapt to change, and promote health. We seek studies that document the impact of climate change on health and health equity in cities; that evaluate the health and environmental co-benefits of urban policies; and that provide insight regarding how cities can be designed, built, and governed to reduce environmental impacts and mitigate the effects of climate change on health.
6. Urban health in Latin America and the Caribbean
Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is among the most urbanized regions of the world. Over 80% of the region’s population lives in urban areas that are heterogenous in their size, form, and social environments. For decades, the region has led innovative programs, policies, initiatives, and interventions that promote urban health and health equity. Lessons about the drivers of health in LAC cities and the most effective strategies for promoting urban health in the region have relevance for cities across the world. We seek studies that characterize health conditions in LAC cities; examine the drivers of urban health; and document effective policies, programs, or strategies to promote urban health and health equity in the region.