The Wellbeing Imperative

April 28, 2020 | 9am PDT | 12pm EDT

As the world’s urban population continues to grow, global health is becoming increasingly synonymous with urban health. The spread of COVID-19 has revealed the extent to which cities impact what we understand about disease:  population density and a world of places connected by business and tourism accelerated the spread of the virus; poor air quality has been linked to the aggravation of symptoms; and the crisis has highlighted the disproportionate vulnerability of the urban poor, the elderly, and historically segregated communities. 

COVID-19 has also revealed the extent to which, although many people are craving some semblance of normalcy, not everybody wants things to go back to normal. The pandemic has not only given us pause to consider how we plan our cities, but also how we evaluate the results of our planning. If we truly want things to be different, then it’s time to make wellbeing and health a priority in urban policy and planning. 

On this episode of The Big Rethink, we envision a world of cities planned with health and wellbeing as a priority. We’ll discuss why this crisis puts the need for a new planning paradigm into perspective, the impact of COVID-19 on local communities and how they’ve adjusted the way they work, and what lessons from the last few weeks could be integrated in order to build equity, health, and wellbeing into long-term urban planning. 

Dr. Maria Neira
Director, Department of Environment, Climate Change and Health, World Health Organization

Emmanuel Pratt
Co-founder, Sweet Water Foundation

Arlette Verkruyssen
Director General, Brussels Housing

Esther Perrin
Project Coordinator and Host, NewCities