Annual Business and Technical Conference of the WHO European Healthy Cities Network

Zsolt Brém

Annual Conference of the WHO European Healthy Cities Network 2017 in Pécs, Hungary

1–3 March 2017, Pécs, Hungary

Building healthy cities: inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable

In March 2017, the WHO European Healthy Cities Network will hold its Annual Business and Technical Conference in Hungary. The Conference will be the final meeting of Phase VI of the network, and will act as preparation for the next phase of Healthy Cities.

The theme of the Conference is healthy cities: inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable, with equity and governance integrated across these 4 elements. They will be explored through a number of subthemes, including:

  • transport, environment, and health;
  • migrant and refugee health;
  • healthy ageing;
  • equity;
  • gender; and
  • early childhood development.

The Conference will also dedicate significant time to preparations for 2018, which will mark 30 years of the Healthy Cities Network, and to exploring the political vision and criteria for 2018–2022.

Expected participants include delegations from city and municipality members of the WHO European Healthy Cities Network, delegations from national Healthy Cities networks, invited dignitaries, keynote speakers, resource experts and advisers, and representatives from countries of the WHO European Region not currently involved in the Healthy Cities movement. The Conference is being hosted by the City of Pécs in Hungary.


The WHO European Healthy Cities Network consists of almost 100 cities. Additionally, the membership of the 20 accredited Healthy Cities National Networks in Europe covers over 1400 cities and municipalities. The Healthy Cities Network launched in 1988 as a political, cross-cutting and intersectoral initiative from WHO Europe to improve health and well-being through direct collaboration with cities. It is now a crucial political and strategic vehicle for implementing Health 2020 and promoting whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches throughout the European Region.

Health and well-being for all is a central focus of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Without health, many of the SDGs will not be realized; however, concurrently, health and well-being can benefit from progress made towards the other SDGs. In a complex world with multiple tiers of government and numerous sectors with a mix of public and private stakeholders, cities are uniquely placed to provide leadership on health and well-being. Local governments have the authority and the capability to create conditions to promote healthy living and high quality of life for everyone who lives, works and visits their cities.

Ensuring sustainable cities that deliver on the health and well-being of urban populations goes far beyond the health sector. In order for cities to be healthy cities – inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable – other sectors need to be engaged. Sectors such as education, social services, environment, local administration, housing, transport, energy, urban planning and culture all have significant impacts on the health and well-being of people living in and interacting with cities on a daily basis. Working together both with and across these sectors, while at the same time fostering empowerment and increased social capital within cities – including trust, participation and civic engagement – will lead to cities throughout the European Region fulfilling their key role in creating a healthier and more sustainable future for all.