For two days in November, 170 planners, architects, sociologists, medical doctors, public health experts and economists from 36 cities and 22 countries met in Hong Kong for two days of debate on the theme of ‘Cities, Health and Well-being’. Speakers presented new and innovative research on health inequalities between and within cities, acknowledging and seeking to address the challenge of comparison across very different contexts. Debates explored the meaning of health and well-being, and in particular what makes a city healthy.
Presentations focused on structural drivers of inequities, access to integrated health services, and the relationships between the planning and design of the built environment and health and well-being outcomes. Some conference participants questioned the idea of a ‘risk-free’ and hyper-regulated city as a healthy city, instead emphasising difference, diversity, and freedom. Through their debates, delegates developed a series of propositions for directions of future research, including inter- and post-disciplinary perspectives on urban health; multi-method comparative urban health studies; researching ‘insurgent practices’; and initiating public debate.
For all those concerned with more hopeful urban futures, the Urban Age Hong Kong conference confirmed the potential power of health and well-being as a point around which to re-think city development, develop new approaches and methods of research, and identify more sensitive and inclusive ways of intervening in cities.
Download the full conference report (PDF).
At LSE Cities, we are continuing to develop research on ‘Cities, Health and Well-being’, building on activities and collaborations initiated through the 2011 Urban Age Hong Kong conference. We will host a Lecture Series here at LSE during Autumn 2012, returning to and developing some of the conference discussions on interdisciplinary and international analysis of urban health and well-being. We are also developing our academic publishing, building on initial research published in the Urban Age Hong Kong newspaper, as well as the conference discussions themselves, in collaboration with conference participants Professor Paul Yip (University of Hong Kong) and Professor Sharon Friel (Australian National University), amongst others. This will include a series of academic articles as well as an edited and collaborative book. We are also developing future international comparative research on cities, health and well-being. Please contact Myfanwy Taylor (firstname.lastname@example.org) for further information in the first instance.