Cities and politicians rally for a healthy future

The WHO European National Healthy Cities Networks annual meeting brought together 33 participants, representing 15 of the 30 national networks, with political leaders in Prague, Czechia, for a packed 3-day programme. The meeting focused on shaping the political direction for the next phase of the work of the Healthy Cities Network, which covers 1300 cities and 165 million people in total, as well as aligning the policy, processes and frameworks of the network.

The meeting, which took place on 18–20 September, was a forum for exchange of best practices and inspiration, and also hosted vigorous discussions about the roles and responsibilities of National Healthy Cities Networks.

Discussions led to a renewal of commitment to a political vision based around reducing inequalities and improving health. Participants worked to identify how national networks could support cities in their response to change and to overcome challenges. The group also looked to the future, focusing on priority areas.

For Charlotte Marchandise, Deputy Mayor of Rennes, France, and Chair of the French National Network of Healthy Cities, the meeting represented a chance to take stock, make connections and gain fresh inspiration. "This was an excellent opportunity to come together as the different national networks, to look towards the future with a global perspective, but building on local realities. It is very important for politicians to take the long-term view in order to improve the health and well-being of the inhabitants of their cities."

These sentiments were echoed by Monika Kosinska, WHO/Europe’s Regional Focal Point for Healthy Cities who commented: “There was a wonderful atmosphere at the meeting. It’s this dedication and vision on the part of our national networks and city members that has made the Healthy Cities Network so uniquely successful”.