Definition: A Healthy City constantly creates and improves those physical and social environments and expands those community resources which enable people to mutually support each other in performing all the functions of life and in developing their maximum potential.
Effectively addressing the complex urban health challenges in an equitable manner requires concerted action. Healthy Cities can be part of the solution. Since the late 1980s WHO in the Western Pacific Region has initiated and promoted the Healthy Cities initiative as an integrated and multisectoral approach to address urban health issues. From the early stages the Healthy Cities approach aims to create and improve the physical and social environments that impact health. Healthy Cities promote collaboration among different sectors, they foster community participation and empowerment and they maximize the effectiveness of local governance. Healthy cities can be a 'response strategy' that facilitates a strategic shift from individual to structural and political determinants of health.
The WHO Healthy Cities movement has gained an international foothold since its inception in 1986. By World Health Day in 1996, which adopted the theme “Healthy Cities for a Better Life” hundreds of cities worldwide had in some way or another linked to the international Healthy Cities network.
In the Western Pacific Region, the establishment and rapid spread of healthy cities movement coincided with intensified discussion on urban health and environment and with the worldwide growth of environmental concerns in the mid 1990s. The establishment of the Alliance for Healthy Cities in 2003 provided a new momentum for Healthy Cities within the Region and led to a more standardized approach to Healthy Cities.
A sustained combination of processes that are geared to the principles of health promotion, such as: visionary leadership and good governance at the city or municipal level, strong intersectoral cooperation at the programmatic level, and active people’s participation and empowerment at the community level are fundamental to healthy urbanization.
Healthy Urbanization: Regional Framework for Scaling Up and Expanding Healthy Cities in the Western Pacific 2011-2015 (2010) (January 2012) & Regional Guidelines for Developing a Healthy City Project (March 2000)
Regional Guidelines for Developing a Healthy Cities Project (WHO, 2000)