World Health Organisation Healthy Cities

The Healthy City concept was initiated in 1986 when WHO’s regional office for Europe founded the Healthy Cities movement.

Its aim is to improve and promote population health through health policy, intersectoral collaboration and community participation. Since then, it has continued to be developed and adopted as a tool in structuring inter-sectoral collaboration and healthy public policy amongst key partners in cities across the world.

A Healthy City is one that is continuously creating or improving their physical & social environments and expanding those community resources which enable people to mutually support each other in performing all the functions of life and in developing their maximum potential. (WHO 2011)

Healthy Cities is founded on the moral and political beliefs that inequalities in social conditions (and therefore health) are unjustified and that their reduction should be an overriding public health objective of the city. Healthy Cities provides a model for cities to develop innovative and creative solutions to public health and health promotion.

As World Health Organisation designated Healthy Cities, Cork, Waterford and Galway cities have committed to the overarching theme of health and health equity in all policies. To achieve this status cities must demonstrate to the WHO that health is a core value for the city administration and that the vision, values and strategy for the city are translated into action for health through planning.

In Ireland the following cities have been designated World Health Organisation Healthy Cities status:

  • CORK Healthy Cities
  • GALWAY Healthy Cities

Derry and Belfast in Northern Ireland are also long standing WHO designated Healthy Cities.

Read more information on the WHO Healthy Cities Initiative