- United Nations University International Institute for Global Health (UNU)
- World Health Organization; International Society for Urban Health; International Council for Science programme on Systems Science for Urban Health and Wellbeing; Resilience Brokers; The Guangzhou Insitute for Urban Innovation; The General Assembly of Partners Researchers and Academics Partner Constituent Group
Health is central to sustainable development, as recognized in the WHO report, “Health as the Pulse of the New Urban Agenda.” Fuller engagement by the health sector in urban development could improve health for all, since cities drive most processes of global change. Research has recognized the contextual roots of health, and climate change adds a new, worrisome element. That health sector engagement is often absent is evident in the three ‘transformative commitments’ of the New Urban Agenda, which nowhere mention health. Conversely, the urban development community could progress toward sustainability by fully accounting for health benefits and harms. Indeed, health is recognized as a critical input for development, but the costs to society of many health issues are only now becoming appreciated. Appeals to health can also have a visceral impact exceeding that of other sustainable development priorities. Systems science identifies the roots of complex challenges (including in sustainable urbanization) in the dynamics of causal systems. Such problems are always difficult, but become wicked when siloed actors fail to appreciate systemic linkages or engage meaningfully. This often occurs in interactions between the health and development sectors. In the former, high levels of technical expertise, lengthy educational pathways, jargon, and even the deference accorded medical personnel may underpin isolation from other sectors. Development and other urban professionals are no less immersed in their educational, technical and professional milieux. Urban health, as a broadly interdisciplinary field, is well-placed to bridge gaps that have limited health sector engagement in sustainable development, and, conversely, recognition by the development community of the centrality of health. This side event brings together key actors in urban health and urban innovation to explore co-benefits between health and other sectors for sustainable urbanization. We will begin with scene-setting interventions, followed by a moderated panel and interactive discussion.