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Pathways to healthy urban living

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Over 50% of the world´s population is living in cities and this is expected to rise to 70% over the next few decades. Cities are society’s predominant engine of innovation and wealth creation, but also main sources of crime, pollution, and disease. Partly due to poor urban and transport planning, or the lack thereof, we have cities that are too car dominated. All the urban planning in the world seems for cars; People do not matter. This has led to high air pollution and noise levels, heat island effects and lack of green space and physical activity that are all detrimental to health. For example, a recent health impact assessment in Barcelona estimated that 20% of premature mortality was due to urban and transport related exposures. Electric cars and/or autonomous vehicles have been mentioned as possible solutions, but they are unlikely to be, and solutions need to be sought elsewhere.

A new long term visioning of healthy urban future is needed that bring health, sustainability and livable at the forefront of urban and transport planning. Systemic approaches to the current problems and e.g. a shift away from our grey car centric cities towards cities with more public and active transportation and green space are urgently needed. Collaboration between e.g. urban and transport planners, environmentalists and public health professionals is essential to create healthy sustainable and livable cities.

This talk is part of the MRC Epidemiology and CEDAR Seminars series.

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