Phases of the Network

John Ashton

30 years of changing cities to change the world

The network’s activities have been organized into phases of roughly 5 years, with differing priorities. For example, phase  III (1998–2002) focussed on the social determinants of health, whereas phase IV (2003–2008) had a special emphasis on healthy ageing. The member cities can vary from phase to phase.

When a city joins the network they commit to delivering materials, data and stories, all of which form a body of evidence  that they are making a difference in putting health high on social and political agendas. Healthy City coordinators, their teams and local political leadership report annually on the state of their city through annual reporting templates.

The phases have served as a process and a platform for inspiration, learning and the accumulation of practical experience on how to improve health and well-being.

Phase VII: 2019–2024

Phase VII will prioritize the themes presented in the Copenhagen Consensus of Mayors, which is inspired by and aligned with Health 2020, the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and WHO’s Thirteenth General Programme of Work. This coherence represents the Network’s significant alignment with global and regional strategies. It strategically positions the Network to continue to highlight and promote the important role that local governments have in developing health and well-being through whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches.

Phase VI: 2014–2018

The influence of Health 2020, WHO/Europe’s overarching policy framework, gained traction in the Healthy Cities movement. This  gives priority to life course approaches in city policies and plans, with a focus on: early child development; ageing and vulnerability; tackling major public health challenges such as physical inactivity, obesity, tobacco, alcohol and mental health difficulties; strengthening people-centred health systems; and fostering resilient communities.

Phase V: 2009–2013

Priority was given to health and health equity in all policies, which, as in other phases, recognizes that population health is largely determined by policies and actions outside the health sector. The phase was built on previous city health development planning and focussed on 3 core themes: caring and supportive environments, healthy living and healthy urban design.

Phase IV: 2003–2008

Participation in phase IV required an overall commitment to health development with an emphasis on equity, tackling the determinants of health, sustainable development, and participatory and democratic governance. Cities committed to working on healthy ageing, healthy urban planning, health impact assessment and active living.

Phase III: 1998–2002

This phase marked the transition from health promotion to integrated city health development plans. Cities created partnership-based policies, with a strong emphasis on equity, the social determinants of health, community development and regeneration initiatives. Cities were required to take systematic approaches to monitoring and evaluation.

Phase II: 1993–1997

Cities advanced the healthy cities approach by developing healthy public policies and drawing up comprehensive city health plans focussing on equity and sustainable development.

Phase I: 1988–1992

This early phase focussed on setting up structures, such as the national networks which could be used as a platform for change.