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Urban planning for resilience and health

date June 30, 2022 | 10:00 - 11:30
Multifunction Hall: ONE UN Room
World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe
Polish, Spanish, English, French + CART [English]
Building Resilience for Sustainable Urban Futures
UN 13


Public health and its relation to urban planning, risk governance, and the natural and built environment in cities has become increasingly relevant. Climate change, inadequately planned urbanisation and environmental degradation have left many cities vulnerable to disasters. The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the links between urban environments and health, and the relevance of planning for resilience.

The “Building urban futures better” project led by the European Centre for Environment and Health of the WHO Regional Office for Europe aimed to support local authorities and decision-makers to reflect on the environment and health dimensions of local preparedness and resilience. The project compiled evidence, lessons learned and statistical information related to a) the reduction of environmental health risks posed by local hazards from disasters, b) the mitigation of local vulnerability to these hazards, and c) the local priorities and actions for improving preparedness, resilience (and health) through urban planning, design and management. The event, organized by the WHO Regional Office for Europe in collaboration with UN-Habitat, will discuss the products and key findings of the project on urban planning for resilience and health.

Moderator: Nathalie Roebbel, WHO/HQ

Presentation 1: Motivation and rationale of the project (Sinaia Netanyahu, WHO/Europe, 5 min.)
This presentation will provide project objectives and context.

Presentation 2: Evidence review and compilation of local experiences on urban planning, design and management approaches for preparedness and resilience (Carlota Sáenz de Tejada, ISGlobal, 24 min.)
This contribution will present project findings related to (i) an evidence review on urban environmental challenges arising from disasters (and the respective priorities to increase urban preparedness and resilience through urban planning, design and management), and (ii) semi-structured interviews in twelve European cities on their practical experiences with environmental emergencies and disasters at city level, and related lessons learned for resilient urban design and infrastructure.

Presentation 3: Review of indicator frameworks supporting urban planning for resilience and health: Relevance and application (Esteban Leon, UN-Habitat, 12 min.)
This presentation will discuss the relevance of international indicators and datasets to support urban planning for resilience, and the suitability of international monitoring frameworks to describe environmental crises impacts and/or to identify priorities for establishing resilience in urban settings.

Presentation 4: Key messages and lessons learned on planning for urban resilience and health (Matthias Braubach, WHO/Europe, 12 min.)
This final presentation aims to summarize the emerging clusters across all project elements, and conclude on how to build forward better and apply environmental planning as one important pathway towards urban resilience.

Discussion (30 min.): The presentations will be followed by open discussion / Q&A session, for all session participants to actively contribute.

Closing: Conclusions and final considerations on the way forward (Sinaia Netanyahu, WHO/Europe, and Nathalie Roebbel, WHO/HQ, 5 min.)


Key objectives * (maximum 1500 characters, text below is 1112)

Urban planning and environmental design and management schemes can make major contributions to all local preparedness and resilience features. Proactive and strategic approaches to local planning and policies for responsive as well as forward- looking environmental strategies are mandatory to build urban resilience. This WUF One UN event specifically targets urban planners, decision-makers and environmental practitioners involved in different sectors, such as social, supply services, environment, transport, planning, health, emergency response and civil protection.

It aims to 1) support forward-looking approaches at local level by providing evidence and practical knowledge on how urban planning and environmental management can increase local resilience and preparedness through the reduction of disaster risks and improved capacities for coping with extreme events at local scale; and 2) facilitate the importance of urban planning and environment decisions and how they can either create or exacerbate major health risks for populations, or foster healthier environments and resilient cities and societies.

Session speakers

Ms. Sinaia Netanyahu
Programme Manager Environment and Health Impact Assessment
WHO European Centre for Environment and Health
Ms. Carlota Sáenz de Tejada
Postdoctoral Researcher
Mr. Leon Esteban
Human Settlements Officer
UN Habitat City Resilience Global Programme
Mr. Matthias Braubach
Technical Officer Urban Health and Equity
WHO European Centre for Environment and Health