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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

    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

    Ricky Burdett is Professor of Urban Studies at LSE and Director of the Urban Age and LSE Cities, a global centre of research and teaching at LSE which received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education 2016-18. He is a member of the Mayor of London’s Cultural Leadership Board, Council Member of the Royal College of Art and a Trustee of the Norman Foster Foundation. He was Director of the Venice International Architecture Biennale and Curator of the Global Cities Exhibition Tate Modern in London. He was a member of the UK Government Airport Commission (2012-2015) and a member of UK Government’s Urban Task Force. In 2014, Burdett was a Visiting Professor in Urban Planning and Design at the Graduate School of Design, Harvard University and Global Distinguished Professor at New York University (2010-2014). Alongside his academic activities, Burdett acts as a consultant to national and city governments, private companies and philanthropic agencies. He was Chief Adviser on Architecture and Urbanism for the 2012 London Olympics and Adviser on Architecture and Urbanism, Mayor of London (2001-2006). He is co-editor of ‘Shaping Cities in an Urban Age’ (2018), ‘The SAGE Handbook of the 21st Century’ (2017), ‘Living in the Endless City’ (2011) and ‘The Endless City’ (2007). Burdett was appointed CBE in the 2017 New Year’s Honours list for services to urban design and planning.