We are all aware of the challenges involved in urban living. Urban health is not only a priority for our cities at the moment but it is increasingly a global priority. The challenges that we are facing locally are global challenges and increasingly we are seeing a demand at local level for cities to not only meet these challenges, but also lead on them. Global challenges are felt most acutely at local level, which is where the first response is. The world frontline of accountability is local.
This conference in Belfast is an opportunity for us to identify how the WHO European Healthy Cities network can step up to meet urban challenges and ensure that we are building on the past as well as working towards transforming the future.
We are all worried about air quality, inclusion, inequality and even the long-term sustainability of certain urban centres, where the threat posed by climate change grows year by year. Air pollution in our cities, for example, kills 6.5 million people every year and accelerates climate change. These challenges motivate the members of the WHO European Healthy Cities network to strive for truly healthy cities but it’s only half the story. The other half of the healthy city story is about the enthusiasm, commitment and pride we feel towards the cities where we work, play and love.
I cannot think of a better location for this conference than the fantastic city of Belfast, not just because of its obvious beauty and the warmth of the welcome here, but because Belfast is a place where actions count for more than words.
We have come a long way in the last 30 years so let’s take this moment to celebrate cities as places of inspiration and innovation. We stand on 30 years of experience, progress and success with a network of 1400 municipalities that criss-cross the WHO European Region, encompassing 53 countries and a vast geographical area from the Atlantic to the Pacific ocean, rich with diversity of culture and language.
As we look forward to the next 30 years, this conference also presents us with an opportunity to take a good look at our ‘to do list’. The Healthy Cities Network is moving into the next phase of its existence and the stakes have never been higher.
So I look forward to welcoming all of our cities, our partners and our new participants to the conference in 2018.
Source: Healthy Cities Belfast 2018
This article is culled from daily press coverage from around the world. It is posted on the Urban Gateway by way of keeping all users informed about matters of interest. The opinion expressed in this article is that of the author and in no way reflects the opinion of UN-Habitat.