£10 million to fund new urban health project in ten cities

Wellcome is launching a £10 million research partnership across four continents to help improve understanding of how countries can create healthier cities and protect the planet.

The partnership is a network of experts from science and other disciplines working closely with ten cities around the world. It will be led by Mike Davies, Professor of Building Physics and Environment at University College London, and Majid Ezzati, Professor of Global Environmental Health at Imperial College London.

The aim is to provide evidence to help policy makers and governments act to improve population health and protect the planet in a way that minimises health inequality.

The cities involved are: London (UK), Rennes (France), Beijing and Ningbo (China), Nairobi and Kisumu (Kenya), Dhaka (Bangladesh), Vancouver (Canada), and Accra and Tamale (Ghana).

Expanding cities threaten human and planetary health

Over half the world’s population already live in cities – by 2050 this is expected to rise to 70%. People in cities tend to be healthier than those living rurally, partly due to better access to public services. But as urban populations increase, these services become more stretched and public health can suffer.

More people means more waste to manage, more vehicles and emissions, and a greater demand for water, electricity and gas.

Modelling policies to predict their success

Many cities already have initiatives to tackle specific urban issues, such as London’s introduction of the T-Charge to tackle air pollution. But more extensive policies are needed.

There is an urgent need for research to establish which policies will be most effective in cities around the world.

This new partnership will gather local data and use computer modelling to test whether policies such as safe low-income housing or large public transport systems are likely to be successful.

The researchers aim to develop equitable and sustainable solutions to urban growth that can benefit people without damaging the planet.

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