ICSU’s Urban Health programme convenes workshop in China on modelling approaches to human health risks in cities

Experts from a wide range of disciplines who share an interest in modelling different approaches to urban health gathered on the island of Gulangyu, off the Chinese coastal city of Xiamen last week for a workshop to explore ways to engage policy dialogue around these issues.

The two-day workshop – which was held from April 28-29 – was organised by the ICSU co-sponsored “Urban Health and Wellbeing programme” and hosted by the Institute of Urban Environment of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Gulangyu Island was chosen as the location for its historical meaning as the birthplace of tropical medicine. Participants came from China, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region.

Discussion focused on how models can contribute to a better systemic understanding of urban health threats such as air pollution, infectious and lifestyle diseases, such as obesity, cardiovascular diseases, antibiotic resistance and the urban heat island effect, which exacerbates respiratory problems and can cause heat stroke, exhaustion, and heat-related mortality. Rapid urban environmental change combined with climate change is a real threat to peoples’ health and wellbeing causing thousands of premature deaths every year.

The challenges urban decision makers are confronted with are immense and require intelligent solutions and support from complex system modelers. The outcomes of those models are however not easily understood, communicated and implemented.

Apart from scientists, representatives from science funding organizations, local municipalities, the media, non-governmental organizations and investors discussed the challenges of communicating and implementing the results of urban health models. Participants agreed on the importance of involving city dwellers in modeling urban health issues and the need for education and capacity building for societal processes which support integrative and inclusive decision making for urban health. At the conclusion of the workshop, participants agreed to collaborate on design of a training programme, a model project in China and a scientific commentary for the media.

You will find some Chinese media coverage of the workshop here.

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