Thematic strands of the conference

1. Addressing equity in health in cities

This was the central topic of this Conference and the theme of The world health report 2010 that was launched this year in connection with World Health Day, which was dedicated to urbanization and health. Tackling inequalities in health has been on the Healthy Cities agenda from the start. It represented one of the most challenging and worthy areas of public health action. The Conference  created the opportunity for serious debate addressing the obstacles to progress as well as the critical factors of success in this area. The equity perspective was explored in all three Phase V core themes. Participants  had ample opportunities to learn from the experiences of cities around Europe and invited experts. There were political debates, keynote addresses, case study presentations and teach-in sessions on this topic.

2. Working on the Phase V core themes

At the Viana do Castelo Conference in 2009, participating cities and networks had introductory discussions and clarifications on the meaning and implications for action of the Phase V goals and themes. The Sandnes Conference  provided additional technical guidance on how to approach the core themes, presented selected case studies and had teach-in sessions on selected topics.

3. Urban governance, citizen participation and public health

How can we adjust and improve the governance of our cities to respond to new challenges and threats to health and also take advantage of new opportunities from decentralization trends, science, technology and networking? Urban governance and active and participatory citizenship are key to delivering on equity and addressing the social determinants of health. The Conference  explored different approaches to engaging different sectors and strengthening local leadership for health.

4. Connecting to international public health and urban agendas

Annual Healthy Cities conferences offer opportunities to promote awareness and stimulate debate on emerging topical issues that have significant implications for public health and local action.

This year the five topics that were selected for briefings and /or discussion were:

  • The global urban condition and this year’s global events on urbanization and health related to World Health Day;
  • The EU Treaty of Lisbon, which entered into force on 1 December 2009; health is a cornerstone of the EU’s overall Lisbon Strategy of growth, competitiveness and sustainable development, which put special emphasis on active citizenship, functioning democracies and accountability;
  • Feedback from the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark (COP 15) in December 2009 and the Fifth Ministerial Conference on Environment and Health in Parma, Italy in March 2010;
  • Lessons learned from the H1N1 pandemic; and
  • WHO’s global strategy on harmful use of alcohol, to be approved in 2010.