Factoring long-term health impacts into urban development.

Factoring long-term health impacts into urban development

By 2050, the planet will need to support 9 billion people, and most will be living in urban areas. There is an urgent need to increase our understanding of both the current and future health impacts of the urban environment and climate change on city dwellers. Crucially we need to explore how those responsible for urban development can factor long-term health outcomes into their decision-making.

This ambitious project aims to show decision makers how poor-quality urban development has hidden costs for society.

Some health impacts – such as those caused by heatwaves and air pollution – manifest themselves quickly, but others – such as changing weather patterns and non-communicable diseases – take a much longer time to show trends. Using an economic perspective, researchers are quantifying current and future health costs and benefits of urban environments, to make health impacts a priority in urban development planning.

By working with urban development agencies, such as city authorities, they are exploring barriers and opportunities for collaborative work. This will lead to a better understanding of what is feasible.

This cross-disciplinary project combines expertise from economics, public health and ecology, and is supported by a panel of experts in urban development, policy and impact.

The project lead is Professor Judy Orme. The Science Communication Unit's Dr Margarida Sardo, Ruth Larbey and Sophie Laggan are also part of the project team.