Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice for Copenhagen

March 19, 2018 — The Big Picture

Good health provides a solid basis for our physical, mental and social wellbeing. Fundamentally, good health gives us the freedom to live the lives we want, while illness and poor health limit our possibilities. This makes health an important resource for the individual Copenhagener and for Copenhagen as a whole if we are to realize the vision of growth and quality of life for our citizens and our city.

The City of Copenhagen Health Policy 2015-2025 establishes a common framework and direction for Copenhageners’ health status in 2025. We base our activities on six fundamental principles. Promoting health in everyday life is the first: by making it attractive to cycle, by serving nutritious lunches in our institutions and by enabling educational institutions to offer quit-smoking-courses.

Other initiatives include equal attention to mental and physical health and partnering with daycare facilities, schools, workplaces and others to embed healthy lifestyles.

Let me give you some examples:

  • We have increased mobility through integrated transport and cycling solutions which has reduced air pollution significantly and improved health of our citizens;
  • Since 2005, around 134 million euro have been invested in bike lanes and bicycle highways. In Copenhagen, more than 60% of all trips to work and educational institutions are carried out on bike and 96% of citizens can reach a park or a beach by foot in less than 15 minutes.
  • We have cleaned the water in the harbour so it is safe to swim in. This has led to attractive urban areas with better quality of life. We also have public sports and training facilities – not just in our parks, but also on rooftops and even on top of a car parking garage.

Healthy thriving people are more likely to complete an education and find employment. When we have a sense of wellbeing and enjoy good health, we have a better chance of reaping the best from life. When health is a means to this end, the small steps are also important, more important than an exclusive focus on the need to meet a myriad of daily recommendations about for example alcohol and physical exercise.

For this reason, we have based our health initiatives on citizens’ own wishes and everyday experiences. We believe each citizen is the expert on his or her own life, and we want to work with citizens to give them the opportunity to act and create the space for lasting changes and improvements, not only when it comes to health but also to the environment in which they live.

In this manner, we can support active citizenship that puts self-determination, participation and responsibility for one’s own life at the center. In Copenhagen, everybody who uses the city – residents, commuters, companies etc. – is invited to play an active part in developing the city and bringing it to life. The best and happiest city to live in is the one you can help create yourself.

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