A healthy turn in urban climate change policies : European city workshop proposes health indicators as policy integrators
Faculty of Social Sciences. Sociology
Environmental health: a global access science source. - London
, p. 1-15
University of Antwerp
Background: The EU FP6 HENVINET project reviewed the potential relevance of a focus on climate change related health effects for climate change policies at the city region level. This was undertaken by means of a workshop with both scientists, city representatives from several EU-countries, representatives of EU city networks and EUexperts. In this paper we introduce some important health related climate change issues, and discuss the current city policies of the participating cities. Methods: The workshop used a backcasting format to analyse the future relevance of a health perspective, and the main benefits and challenges this would bring to urban policy making. Results: It was concluded that health issues have an important function as indicators of success for urban climate change policies, given the extent to which climate change policies contribute to public health and as such to quality of life. Simultaneously the health perspective may function as a policy integrator in that it can combine several related policy objectives, such as environmental policies, health policies, urban planning and economic development policies, in one framework for action. Furthermore, the participants to the workshop considered public health to be of strategic importance in organizing public support for climate change policies. One important conclusion of the workshop was the view that the connection of science and policy at the city level is inadequate, and that the integration of scientific knowledge on climate change related health effects and local policy practice is in need of more attention. In conclusion, the workshop was viewed as a constructive advance in the process of integration which hopefully will lead to ongoing cooperation. Conclusions: The workshop had the ambition to bring together a diversity of actor perspectives for exchange of knowledge and experiences, and joint understanding as a basis for future cooperation. Next to the complementarities in experience and knowledge, the mutual critical reflection was a bonus, as ideas had the opportunity to be scrutinized by others, leading to more robustness and common ground. The structured backcasting approach was helpful in integrating all of this with one common focus, embracing diversity and complexity, and stimulating reflection and new ideas.