Our vision is to be a leader in creating a healthy and equitable European city

Healthy Cities 21st Century

Looking to the Future with Healthy Cities

WHO European Healthy Cities Political Vision Group, Cork, September 2017.

One of the most important, and beneficial, aspects of the WHO European Healthy Cities Network is the opportunity to meet with colleagues from across the continent to learn about the work they are doing, share experience and collaborate in developing each city into a healthy one. One of these groups, the WHO European Healthy Cities Network Political Vision Group, gathered last week in Cork to discuss the future direction of the Healthy Cities network in Europe and provide knowledge on local government issues to improve health of the populations. The event was hosted by the Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Tony Fitzgerald, and I was joined by Cllr Brian Heading in representing Belfast with delegates from six Healthy Cities.

The Political Vision Group was set up by WHO Europe to engage politicians to support and guide the strategic approach of Healthy Cities. It provides political input on local level knowledge to the future strategic direction of Healthy Cities. The work of this group helps cities improve their citizens health, and strengthens the effectiveness of the network. The work of this group will be launched next year at the  International Healthy Cities Conference in Belfast, 1-4 October.

The meeting of the group on Cork looked at how healthy cities can support one another, and looked at establishing the best way to exchange information on how solutions to challenging issues can be found. At Belfast Healthy Cities we have always sought to learn from best practice and successful health programmes from our sister cities, and it is important that the methods of sharing information are improved.

At a local level, we have always found our city councillors to be supportive of any project that would bring health benefits to the city. We have also seen this support in their engagement in knowledge exchange programmes and conferences across Europe. This collaborative approach, between the Healthy Cities, Councillors and elected representatives, as well as other stakeholders, particularly our key partners at NI Housing Executive, Public Healthy Agency and the Belfast Health & Social Care Trust, is essential in ensuring the successful delivery of health improvement programmes.

In Cork we looked at the development of the Healthy Cities Vision for 2030, dealing with the longer term planning for our cities, as well as how we will increase the collaborative work across the globe, including Asia and the Americas.

Next year, when the International Healthy Cities Conference takes place here in Belfast, we will have delegates from all over the world, and it will be an opportunity for the whole city showcase itself, and we are looking forward to working with Belfast City Council and our other partners in delivering this conference. 

Joan Devlin

Chief Executive, Belfast Healthy Cities