Harnessing Sustainability to Improve Urban Health

Sotiris Vardoulakis (Institute of Occupational Medicine)

Friday 2nd February, 2018 15:00-16:00 Maths 311B


Over half of the world’s population now live in cities, with certain regions (particularly in Asia) having urbanised rapidly over the las 10 years. This has created pressure on housing, transport, healthcare and other services in cities and resulted in persistent urban air pollution, noise, waste management, and, in some cases, water availability problems. The design of many cities is car centric, high energy, and low resilience to natural hazards. Furthermore, building design and materials, and the lack of urban green and blue spaces, have contributed to the urban heat island effect and the exacerbation of building overheating over period of hot weather. Climate change will increase the risk of such heatwaves becoming more frequent and intense in densely populated temperate zones in Europe, North America, Australia and elsewhere. These aspects have negative impacts on health and wellbeing, particularly on non-communicable diseases (respiratory, cardiovascular, obesity, or mental health related). On the other hand, well designed cities have the potential of enhancing health and wellbeing through improved mobility, access to services, employment, education, amenities, resource efficiency, and enhanced resilience to natural and human-induced hazards (floods, heatwaves, and air pollution episodes). Focusing on the delivery of the Sustainable Development Goal, IOM is developing a collaborative research programme aiming to harness environmental sustainability to improve urban health.

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