City Planning and Health: a Global Challenge

Expert seminar hosted by LSE Cities

In 2011, the world’s population reached 7 billion and is projected to reach 10 billion by 2050.  For the first time in human history, over half of the world’s population now live in cities, with a projected rise to 75% by 2050.  Providing the infrastructure and resources needed to feed, water, mobilize and keep healthy this growing and ageing urban population is a massive undertaking.  The creation of compact cities designed to facilitate active transport and active leisure is now seen as a global priority from both environmental sustainability and health perspectives.

Sustainable and healthy cities rely less on private motor vehicles for transportation and more on walking, cycling, and public transport use. A recent Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) report called on national governments and land use, transport and health ministers to provide the necessary ‘legal, administrative and technical frameworks’ to meet the needs of pedestrians and to promote walking.  Compact walking- and cycling-friendly cities have the potential to reduce chronic disease by increasing physically active forms of transportation, and reducing car dependency. Safe and attractive cities in which there is high quality public open space and places to walk benefit’s health by encouraging recreational walking and promoting mental health.

As cities grow in response to population growth and shifts from rural and regional communities into cities, a comprehensive understanding of the impact of built form on health and wellbeing is required to identify the intended and unintended impacts of decisions made in city planning.  Drawing on a paper from a recently launched Lancet Series on Urban Design, Transport and Health, this seminar focused on unpicking the complex nature of city and building design on health and wellbeing on population health.


    Billie Giles-Corti

    Professor Billie Giles-Corti is Director of the McCaughey VicHealth Community Wellbeing Unit, Centre for Health Equity, University of Melbourne. She is a National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Senior Principal Research Fellow, an Honorary Fellow of both the Planning Institute of Australia and the Public Health Association, and a Fulbright Scholar. For two decades, she and a multi-disciplinary research team have been studying the impact of the built environment on health and wellbeing. She leads an NHMRC Centre of Research Excellence in Healthy Liveable Communities established in 2014. She has published over 300 articles, book chapters and reports, and by citations, is ranked in the top 1% of researchers in her field globally. In 2015, she was the top ranked female NHMRC Fellow in public health, and was awarded the Elizabeth Blackburn Fellowship.

    Ricky Burdett

    Ricky Burdett is Professor of Urban Studies at the London School of Economics (LSE), and director of LSE Cities and the Urban Age project. He is a member of the Mayor of London’s Cultural Leadership Board, and was chief advisor on Architecture and Urbanism for the London 2012 Olympics and architectural advisor to the Mayor of London from 2001 to 2006. He was director of the International Architecture Exhibition at the Venice Biennale in 2006. With Deyan Sudjic he is co-editor of The Endless City (2007) and Living in the Endless City (2011) and, with Philipp Rode Shaping Cities in an Urban Age (2018).