Declaration of Montréal on Wellbeing in Cities

Placing wellbeing at the heart of urban policy

On September 15, 2020, during the second edition of the Wellbeing Cities Forum, NewCities and the City of Montréal introduced the Declaration on Wellbeing in Cities. We call on cities, local governments, corporations, nonprofits, academic institutions, and urban experts committed to advancing urban wellbeing to endorse the Declaration.

Today, as urban populations around the world face a myriad of complex challenges, the need for a global and local response guided by common values and principles is more urgent than ever. 

An increasing number of cities and organizations around the world have transformed urban life over the past decade through a commitment to prioritizing urban wellbeing. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has, however, highlighted the challenges, contradictions, and vulnerabilities of our communities, challenging urban wellbeing and deepening inequalities. COVID-19 also has significant economic impacts, both for the population and for the economic ecosystem of cities. The pandemic underscores the need to reflect on the way we think about, plan, and inhabit cities. As cities around the world prepare their COVID-19 recovery plans, we simply cannot keep doing things the way we did before; we need to aim for sustainable and inclusive recovery, with the health and wellbeing of inhabitants at the forefront.

We, Mayors, city officials, leaders from businesses, citizens groups and international institutions, urbanists and experts from academia and others from around the world agree that wellbeing and health should be at the heart of how we plan, design, and assess cities, and believe that this can be better achieved through continuous collaboration across sectors. 

Therefore, we pledge to:

  • Prioritize wellbeing
    Place quality of life and citizens’ wellbeing at the heart of city planning, through policies, plans, public services, and investments.

  • Place citizens at the heart of decision-making
    Strengthen municipal democracy, transparency, consultation processes, and participative decision-making mechanisms, to ensure that cities respond to citizens’ expectations regarding quality of life in all its dimensions, such as access to public space, mobility, and housing. 

  • Integrate nature and biodiversity
    Take an ecological perspective toward transition and resilience; ensure access to nature for citizens; develop our cities while taking ecosystems into account, implementing nature-based solutions and promoting biodiversity; and to resolutely pursue the path towards carbon neutrality in order to counter climate change and its effect on the environment and quality of life.

  • Support cohesive communities
    Utilize urban design and policy to encourage human connection and solidarity; promote diversity and foster community cohesiveness, peaceful coexistence, and resilience; pay special attention to vulnerable communities in order to ensure that each individual has the opportunity to flourish and leave no one behind. 

  • Plan for better urban health
    Proactively integrate considerations of physical and mental health in policy and planning and aim for equal access to health services and to healthy food, air, and water.

  • Build a vibrant urban economy
    Collaborate with employers to improve the quality of employment, encourage entrepreneurship and innovation, and support businesses so that they continue to thrive in the economy for the benefit of the prosperity and well-being of the urban population.

  • Collaborate with each other and with community stakeholders
    To carry out these commitments, we plan to:

    - Share best practices and ensure an ongoing global conversation to amplify the reach of the urban wellbeing ecosystem

    - Promote active collaboration among other cities, local and national governments, businesses, civil society organizations, and academic institutions around the world

    - Continue to develop inspiring, inclusive, and innovative initiatives centered around wellbeing

    - Engage local populations throughout our processes.

We therefore invite cities, organizations, and individuals around the world to endorse this Declaration and to join us to contribute to this important paradigm shift so that together, we can envision and build cities resolutely focused on the wellbeing of their citizens.

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