Building Resilient Cities: Climate Change and Health Interlinkages in the Planning of Public Spaces
- GHGs emissions are the cause of both deterioration of air quality and climate change.
- Air pollution and climate change have a reciprocal influence, leading to negative impacts on human health.
- Impacts on human health are determined mainly by exposure to climate-related hazards, populations’ vulnerability, resilience, and mitigation and adaptation actions.
- Cities are the largest contributors to GHGs emissions and at the same time extremely vulnerable to climate change impacts, especially urban lower socio-economic population groups.
- Assessing climate-related risks and the response of health systems are critical steps to improve population health and increase urban resilience.
- Urban planning strategies should aim at improving the health of the population and reduce social inequalities, advancing the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1. Problem Formulation
- How can planning strategies for public spaces contribute to climate change adaptation and the mitigation of and reduction in social and environmental inequalities, improving health in cities?
- How to assess the main challenges and research gaps related to the interlinkages between climate change and health, including considerations on vulnerabilities, in planning public spaces?
- What co-benefits can result from the planning of healthy and inclusive public spaces?
2.2. Analytical Framework
2.3.1. Literature Review
3.1. Role of Planning Strategies in Tackling Interlinkages between Climate Change and Health
Role of Planning Strategies in Tackling Interlinkages between Climate Change and Health—Summary Analysis
- The provision of a network of public spaces can improve urban resilience, reduce climate change impacts, and lower social and economic segregation and health inequalities.
- Green public spaces improve air quality, reduce the heat island effect and encourage physical activity.
- Urban policies aimed at limiting GHGs emissions can generate co-benefits on health.
- The main knowledge gap was found in the lack of communication between the planning and health sectors.
- The integration of health stakeholders in the planning process could reduce climate-change-related impacts on health.
3.2. Assessment Process
- “Climate Change Vulnerability and Risk” defines a methodology to analyze community and system exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity founded on a participatory and community-based approach . It enables the identification of low-risk areas for future development with the goal of informing participatory, community-driven adaptation planning processes, develop early warning systems, and build capacity .
- “Planning for climate change: a strategic, values-based approach for urban planners” offers a comprehensive overview of strategies to address climate change through urban planning processes at the local level, promotes inclusive participatory approaches, and supports the development of adaptive capacities for urban planners, stakeholders and professionals from related sectors, increasing communication and cooperation between different levels .
- “City Resilience Proofing Tool” enables the assessment of the level of social protection and services, in order to increase social resilience, social inclusion and reduce vulnerability to present and future impacts, implementing early warning systems for extreme events [17,52]. Mapping is useful to understand the geographic distribution of vulnerabilities and explain the results .
- “The City Resilience Profiling Tool (CRPT)”, based on the exposure analysis of current and projected climate data in combination with sensitivity data, allows to assess the degree of the biophysical impacts of climate change and the adaptive capacity of the city in relation to its social, institutional, and physical elements . Collaborative stakeholder engagement combined with governance, urban development, and climate analysis expertise is essential to prioritize actions aimed at improving the resilience of vulnerable populations .
- “Urban HEART: Urban Health Equity Assessment and Response Tool” (WHO) is a decision-support tool focused on understanding vulnerabilities and inequities, health outcomes and risks across different economic groups and promotes community participation in cross-sectoral collaborative actions, to drive political decisions and resource allocation towards health equity .
- The “Health Impact Assessment (HIA)” allows evaluating a policy, program, or project through a combination of methods and tools, to understand their potential health effects and how they are distributed across the population. Therefore, understanding population demographics is the foundation for identifying vulnerable population groups .
- “Inclusive Healthy Places—A Guide to Inclusion and Health in Public Space: Learning Globally to Transform Locally” guides professionals and communities in the creation of public spaces that support inclusion, health, and health equity. Inclusion can thus be understood not solely as an outcome, but also as a process that engages participants, increasing a sense of trust among them and enabling the achievement of a shared vision . Multiple stakeholders should be involved, including planners, designers, and policymakers, as well as health professionals, community leaders and members .The framework can support professionals from different backgrounds (government, planning, design, and health) to collaborate in the promotion of health equity . To this end, an understanding of demographic data is needed to identify gaps and barriers to good health and the drivers of social inequalities in health .
- The “Compendium of Inspiring Practices: Health edition” emphasizes the importance of collaboration between health professionals and urban planners, since their different approaches can stress the benefits of good urban planning practices for health, putting the latter at the center of the planning process and not just considering it as an outcome .
- In “Approach for Assessing Human Health Vulnerability and Public Health Interventions to Adapt to Climate Change”, Ebi at al. developed a method for assessing the potential impacts of climate change on human health, to support policymakers in making informed evidence-based decisions aimed at increasing resilience to current and projected climate impacts . The current distribution of climate impacts on health, the existing strategies and measures to address them, and the estimate future health impacts resulting from climate or socioeconomic factors are analyzed to identify possible policies and adaptation measures to reduce climate-related health impacts and increase capacity, thereby improving resilience to climate change .
- “The City Resilience Framework”, developed by The Rockefeller Foundation and ARUP, combines the physical aspects of cities with the non-tangible aspects of human behavior, and aims to generate the dialogue and involvement of new actors within civil society, local government and business to facilitate the development of resilient cities . It embraces 12 key objectives that outline the features of a resilient city, grouped into 4 categories: health & well-being, economy & society, infrastructure & environment, and leadership & strategy .
- “The City Resilience Action Planning (CityRAP)” tool (UN-Habitat) assists small and medium-sized cities, or districts in large cities, to strengthen their resilience through practical actions and collaboration between different stakeholders . Bottom-up planning approaches provide the opportunity to engage stakeholders, city dwellers, and communities in mapping the risks .
- The UN-Habitat “City-Wide Public Space Assessment” tool enables to identify challenges in the development of long-term strategies for public places by assessing the provision of spaces, their accessibility, distribution, and connectivity, with the aim of assessing their quality and potential disparities and to develop a city-wide strategy .
- “Citywide public space inventory and assessment tool” (UN-Habitat) provides a flexible framework for assessing the quality and quantity of public spaces, their network, distribution and accessibility, and the level of social inclusion. The development of the strategy should involve multiple stakeholders, analysis of data on maps, and co-design strategies . A monitoring and evaluation phase should be incorporated, followed by the implementation of selected priorities . Each strategy should include an action plan, jointly agreed upon by all stakeholders, that can anticipate future needs .
- The tool “Public Space Site-specific Assessment” (UN-Habitat) evaluates the quality of public spaces according to five dimensions: accessibility, green spaces, comfort and safety, services, use and users . It is based on the high level of participation of local authorities, experts and community members in order to understand where to allocate resources, create green and blue networks, support biodiversity, and provide climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies . The result is a set of recommendations that may be utilized as input for urban design by architects and planners, in accordance with community needs . An evaluation and implementation phase of the design solutions are required to assess whether they provided positive outcomes, improve the design and share knowledge . The tool allows to assess the characteristics of the space within a 5 min walking distance, with the aim of planning the 15 min city .
3.2.1. Assessment Process—Analysis of Tools
3.2.2. Assessment Process—Summary Analysis
- The tools aimed at understanding vulnerability to climate change risk are based on participatory approaches and stakeholder’s collaboration and aim at building adaptive capacity.
- The tools focused on health vulnerability aim at understanding health impacts according to population demographics and at increasing the collaboration of the health and planning sectors to support evidence-based decisions to increase resilience and reduce inequalities in health.
- The tools addressing the urban spaces focus on fostering the dialogue among different stakeholders and support planners in the development of resilient cities, through a network of safe, accessible and green public spaces.
- Although common patterns can be identified, none of the tools investigate the combination of health risk, climate change and population vulnerabilities in relation to public spaces.
- Breaking down siloed knowledge has been recognized as a major step to support long-term responses to climate change and the reduction in health vulnerability.
3.3. The Creation of Co-Benefits
The Creation of Co-Benefits—Summary Analysis
- Health, social, environmental, and economic co-benefits can result from public spaces planning strategies aimed at increasing the response to climate change impacts in cities.
- The use of data can support the design of public spaces in fulfilling the needs of different population groups and generate economic benefits.
- The analysis of the costs of action and inaction can promote the integration of health in public spaces and climate policies.
- Main gaps have been recognized in the collection of health data and in the assessment of health co-benefits of climate change mitigation and adaptation strategies in the literature.
3.4. Plan Healthy and Inclusive Public Spaces to Build Resilient and Liveable Cities
Plan Healthy and Inclusive Public Spaces to Build Resilient and Livable Cities—Summary Analysis
- City-wide strategies for public spaces that tackle climate and health issues through the participation of the local communities and the different stakeholders can increase urban resilience and the sense of belonging, creating livable cities.
- A network of high-quality and green public spaces can promote social inclusion, reduce vulnerabilities and help to address climate change challenges.
- Understanding the perception of the users about the space (through sensors and participation processes) allows the designers to adapt the project to the population’s needs.
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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Orsetti, E.; Tollin, N.; Lehmann, M.; Valderrama, V.A.; Morató, J. Building Resilient Cities: Climate Change and Health Interlinkages in the Planning of Public Spaces. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2022, 19, 1355. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19031355
Orsetti E, Tollin N, Lehmann M, Valderrama VA, Morató J. Building Resilient Cities: Climate Change and Health Interlinkages in the Planning of Public Spaces. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2022; 19(3):1355. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19031355Chicago/Turabian Style
Orsetti, Eleonora, Nicola Tollin, Martin Lehmann, Vanessa Agudelo Valderrama, and Jordi Morató. 2022. "Building Resilient Cities: Climate Change and Health Interlinkages in the Planning of Public Spaces" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 19, no. 3: 1355. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph19031355