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Urban Planning for Health Equity


Heike Köckler
Gabriele Bolte
Martin Knöll
Organisational Assistant
Natalie Riedel
Coordinator HQ
Martin Sondermann
  • Prof. Dr. Gabriele Bolte, Universität Bremen, Bremen
  • PhD Katarzyna Brukalo, Medical University of Silesia in Katowice, Bytom
  • Claudia Costa, Município de Pombal, Pombal
  • Prof. Carlo Fabian, ,
  • Marcus Grant, Environmental Stewardship for Health, Bristol
  • Anna Hasler, Scottish Government, Edinburgh
  • Prof. Dr.-Ing. Martin Knöll, Technische Universität Darmstadt, Darmstadt
  • Prof. Dr. Heike Köckler, Hochschule für Gesundheit, Bochum
  • Dipl.-Ing. Magdalena Maierhofer, , Wien
  • Dr.-Ing. Daniel Münderlein, Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule Aachen, Aachen
  • Dr. Natalie Riedel, Stadt Münster, Münster
  • Rehana Shrestha, Universität Bremen, Bremen
  • Ass. Prof. Dr. Thomas Verbeek, Delft University of Technology, Delft
  • Miriam Weber, Municipality of Utrecht, Utrecht
  • What are the key determinants of health equity for different communities in urban areas? Which indicators could represent these determinants?
  • How do we deal with multiple environmental burdens as determinant of health inequity?
  • How can inclusive design become the standard in spatial planning?
  • What are innovative concepts of community health care?
  • How can health equity impact assessment (e.g. taking intervention generated inequalities into account) be integrated into urban planning and design processes?
  • What are innovative approaches of participation in urban development meeting the requirement of empowerment and procedural environmental justice?
  • What are benefits of health equity interventions for sustainable urban development?
  • What lessons do we learn from the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic for urban health equity?
  • How can urban health inequities be visualised and communicated to decision makers?

Urban areas are for several reasons in the focus of discourses on spatial development: the trend of urbanisation worldwide is unbroken. Cities are not only places of spatial and social segregation, but also of health inequalities. In 2016, in a series of the journal The Lancet, cities were emphasized as “important social determinant to health”, highlighting the multiple relations between urban planning, mobility and health outcomes via factors such as air and noise pollution, inactive lifestyles, social isolation and exposure to crime.[1] Various forms of health inequity are observed as there are unequal micro-environments and opportunities for healthy living within the cities: Influenced by urban environmental factors, life expectancy from birth varies up to eight years between different neighbourhoods in European Cities. The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has amplified urban health inequity, revealing the consequences of unequal access to adequate housing, quality green spaces and health infrastructures. Therefore, the pursuit of developing urban areas that are healthy, sustainable and just is a common concern of practitioners and scientists around the globe.

This working group on Urban Planning for Health Equity addresses different ARL research fields. It mainly refers to the field of demographic and socio-economic change as it deals with an integrated view of health equity, environmental justice and quality of life for different communities living in European cities today. Spatial development, urban planning and urban design are key determinants of health equity, which have rarely been researched in a transdisciplinary and international perspective. This includes the living conditions that are developed, designed and planned to allow communities regardless of their level of marginalisation and deprivation to live more healthy lives. Therefore, aspects of health and environment, physical activity, mobility, and digitalisation, inclusion and participation in decision-making will be on the agenda.

The role of meaningful involvement and participation of different communities in decision making following the concepts of procedural environmental justice and empowerment in the sense of enabling individuals is an important determinant of health for these communities. Therefore, it is important for a vital urban planning for health equity.  

Facing the effects of a worldwide pandemic, we investigate urban planning in its potential to mitigate urban health inequity in three perspectives: 1) short-term measures like lockdowns, 2) inequity in SARS-CoV-2 effects determined by urban health inequity and 3) long-term effects and conclusions for a post-pandemic city, e.g. building up sustainable resilience against new emergencies.

The working group focuses on European cities as entities that are shaped by similar cultural, economic and historical backgrounds, a joint political and administrative framework, similar public health challenges, but vary in approaches for urban planning and urban design.

Title Photo by Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash

health equity


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Vienna meeting
Policy Workshop
First meeting, Bochum



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MSc Thomas Resch
MSc Thomas Resch

Dear all,

this may be interesting to anyone studying health equity in Vienna -> Resch, T. (2023). Vienna Public Health Equity Project, 2023. [data collection]. UK Data Service. SN: 856794, DOI: 10.5255/UKDA-SN-856794 



Dr. Britta Bockhorn
Dr. Britta Bockhorn

@all: I would like to draw your attention to the new entry "Health in Spatial Planning" in the Compendium of Urban and Regional Development, which may be of interest to some of you: https://www.arl-international.com/knowledge/compendium/h

Prof. Dr. habil. Heike Köckler
Prof. Dr. habil. Heike Köckler

The working group has had an inspiring online meeting today dealing with key concepts like resilience, vulnerability important determinants of health like climate change, biodiversity and infrastructure for health. We will continue next week with work on environmental justice, justice, concepts of health and (mal)nutrifition. We will share results of discussions focusing on urban planning and health equity on this platform next year.

For the overall debate we want to share some infos, which might be of interest for people interested in urban health:

The ISOCARP publication:


The climate lense of place standard tool in Scotland was launched:


And for those who are able to understand German the hint to a PodCast on What is UrbanHealth:


If you have any publications, events or tools to share on Urban Health you are welcome to conbribute