Funding body: Wellcome Trust under the 'Our Planet, Our Health' call
- University of Bath
- University of Washington
- United Nations University
- Daniel Black + Associates (db+a)
Dates: 1 February 2016 - 1 February 2019
The relationship between the built environment and health is complex. Research in this area does not yield clear results from methods relying solely on linear causality. However, a consensus is beginning to emerge, particularly around the need for whole-systems analysis. Decision makers are increasingly recognising the importance of investing in cross-cutting strategies, comprehensive stakeholder analysis and interdisciplinary co-production.
By addressing the urban environment rather than narrowly focusing on healthcare, effective solutions are more likely to be found. Research evidence demonstrating that the physical environment has a direct impact on health is growing. Examples of specific links include:
- density of urban area and car use
- walking, body weight and carbon emissions
- quality green spaces, social interaction, greater physical activity and health inequalities
- land use, connectivity, population density, overall neighbourhood design and physical inactivity
- active travel and stress.
Though still outside mainstream indices of growth, economic valuation methods attempt to quantify these external costs, linking the quality of urban environment with consumptive behaviours: eg the £10.7 bn annual cost of physical inactivity to the NHS for the treatment of non-communicable diseases; £1.12 trn willingness of OECD member states to pay for prevention of 3.5 m deaths caused by air pollution; £1.3 bn annual damages to UK properties from fluvial and coastal flooding; £740 m cost of UK floods in 2007; £4.5 bn cost of flooding to insurers since 2000; £14 trn estimated cost of global biodiversity decline by 2050.
The aim of the project is to make current and future health impacts a priority for strategic decision-makers in urban development planning.
Please email Dr Ben Williams at Ben3.Williams@uwe.ac.uk for more details.