The overall aim of the initiative is to promote equitable urban development capable of delivering healthier and happier living in our increasingly urban societies. Taking a multi- and interdisciplinary approach, connecting geographers, social scientists, environmental modellers, neuroscientists, urbanists and biologists, the initiative sets outs to generate new knowledge on the impacts of urban environments on the health and wellbeing of residents, with a core focus on low- and middle-income countries, although findings are likely to be relevant globally. The evidence generated will help to guide policies aimed at equitably maximizing the wellbeing of urban populations while minimizing resource consumption and without undermining their resilience.

What makes a city healthy for its residents? Could citizens be actively engaged in monitoring the health of their city? These are key questions that inform initiative case studies in Asia and Africa. Novel methods of data generation and collection will be employed across four interconnected activities in the case studies. These are:

  1. The impact of urban forms’ impact on health and wellbeing
  2. Co-designing urban citizen science monitoring
  3. Urban metabolism and participatory modelling
  4. Governance for greater urban equity and inclusion

The research will contribute to a rethink of urban development practices. Knowledge generated through action research and boundary partner engagement will inform sustainable and participatory planning for urban environments.