ICUH2021 - Latin America [Virtual]

Conference Themes

17th International Conference on Urban Health

July 6-8, 2021
"Transforming our Collective Urban Future: Learning from COVID-19"
  • Urban Health Inequities
  • Transforming Built Environments
  • Urban Governance and Public Health Systems
  • Urban Health Over the Lifecourse
  • Climate Change and Urban Health
  • Urban Health in Latin America and the Caribbean

Conference Materials

Downloadable Materials

The 17th International Conference on Urban Health,  "Transforming our Collective Urban Future: Learning from COVID-19," brought together an international network of interdisciplinary urban health researchers, policymakers, business leaders, practitioners, and grassroots community advocates to exchange ideas, advance research, and drive action across sectors, transforming urban environments to promote health and environmental sustainability as we rethink urban health in the context of COVID-19.


Video Highlights

ICUH2021 Welcome Plenary / Opening Ceremony

Welcome and Conference Opening on Behalf of ISUH - Dr. Carlos Dora, President-Elect 2021-2023, International Society for Urban Health, Geneva, Switzerland

Welcome on Behalf of PAHO/WHO - Dr. Carissa F. Etienne, Director, Pan American Health Organization, Regional Director for the Americas, World Health Organization, Washington D.C., USA

Ceremonial Welcome on Behalf of UN-Habitat - Maimunah Sharif, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director, UN-Habitat, Nairobi, Kenya

Ceremonial Welcome on Behalf of WHO - Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

Shaping the Urban Health Agenda Post-COVID-19: WHO’s Commitment and Strategies to Support Local and National Action - Dr. Nathalie Röbbel, Unit Head, Urban Health, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

Welcome on Behalf of the SALURBAL Project - Dr. Olga L. Sarmiento, Universidad de los Andes, Salud Urbana en América Latina (SALURBAL), Bogotá, Colombia

ICUH2021 Plenary #1 - Urban Health Inequities

Urban health inequities have been both illuminated and exacerbated throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. These inequities disproportionately impact vulnerable populations including migrants, ethnic and racial minorities, poor people, and people living in informal settlements, often with limited access to basic services, and those lacking food, labor and/or social protections. The need to address the social determinants of health, including structural inequities and systemic racism in cities, has never been more urgent or apparent. Effective responses must incorporate community participation, inter-sectoral action, and inclusive governance. Plenary speakers will explore the impacts of urban health inequities, identify underlying causes, and point to effective policies, strategies and interventions to reduce these inequities.

Moderator: Dr. Gerry Eijkemans, Unit Chief for Health Promotion and Social Determinants of Health, Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), Washington D.C., USA

Urban health inequities: magnitude and drivers - Dr. Ana V. Diez Roux, Principal Investigator, Salud Urbana en América Latina (SALURBAL), Philadelphia, USA

Addressing inequities through a health in all policies approach: a focus on cities - Dr. Nicole Valentine, Health and Equity Technical Officer, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

Harnessing urban systems for health equity - Dr. Tolullah Oni, University of Cambridge, Founder of UrbanBetter, Cambridge, UK

Urban sustainability and health equity post COVID-19 - Aromar Revi, Indian Institute for Human Settlements, (IIHS), Bengaluru, India

ICUH2021 Plenary #2 - Transforming Built Environments

Urban environments can have profound effects on human health. The built environments of cities interact with complex social conditions and can promote sustainability and health or aggravate illness and disease. Features of built environments differ markedly between and within cities depending on history, cultural context, scale, land use and more. Policies and programs have the power to transform the built environments of cities and neighborhoods to enhance health, improve heath equity, and promote environmental sustainability. Plenary speakers will discuss the impact of urban environments on health and real-world examples of successful multi-sectoral strategies to redesign and transform cities in ways that promote health, health equity and environmental sustainability for all.

Moderator: Giselle Sebag, Executive Director, International Society for Urban Health, New York, USA / Madrid, Spain

Transportation systems for cities of the future - Dr. Daniel A. Rodríguez, Chancellor’s Professor of City and Regional Planning, University of California at Berkeley, Berkeley, USA

Should we rethink urban design, density and mixed land use post-pandemic? Reflections from Lancaster UK - Dr. Rachel Cooper, Distinguished Professor of Design Management and Policy, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK

Transforming our collective urban future through built environments and urban planning - Dr. Thiago Hérick de Sá, Healthy Urban Environment Technical Officer, World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

Reducing air pollution: pandemic lessons and promising strategies - Dr. Sotiris Vardoulakis, Professor of Global Environmental Health, The Australian National University, Canberra, Australia

ICUH2021 Plenary #3 - Urban Governance and Public Health Systems

Governments hold ultimate responsibility for guaranteeing those conditions which allow people to be as healthy as possible. Governance for urban health requires political leadership that recognizes the relevance of decisions made in sectors beyond health and healthcare in determining health. Governments also have responsibility for creating and sustaining essential public health systems and infrastructure. Failures to support and expand capacity in the public health system can make it more difficult to advance health in all policies and respond effectively to health emergencies. The authority assigned to city and local governments varies by country, but it is increasingly apparent that the public sector must interact effectively with a growing number of governmental and non-governmental actors to fulfill these responsibilities. Speakers in this session will highlight evidence from and examples of effective participatory governance models and other actions that city governments have implemented to build public health capacity and strengthen political support for policies across sectors that promote urban health and health equity.

Moderator: Dr. Jo Ivey Boufford, Clinical Professor of Global Health and Pediatrics, New York University, New York City, USA

Urban governance for health: key lessons from the pandemic -  Charlotte Marchandise, Partnerships and Engagement Lead, World Health Organization Academy, Rennes, France

Managing communicable diseases: the role of urban public health systems - Dr. K. Srinath Reddy, President, Public Health Foundation of India, Indian National Public Health Institute, New Delhi, India

A social and racial justice approach to urban governance for health - Dr. Mary T. Bassett, Director, FXB Center for Health and Human Rights, Harvard University, Boston, USA

Governance of urban health systems: What does it take to make it real? - Dr. Remy Sietchiping, Chief, Policy, Legislation and Governance Section, Urban Practices Branch, UN-Habitat, Nairobi, Kenya

ICUH2021 Plenary #4 - Urban Health Over the Life Course

The urban setting creates both opportunities for and risks to health across the life course of people living in cities. Many health promotion programs have traditionally been structured around specific life stages, including initiatives targeted at childhood, adolescence, reproductive age, and older adults. However, many of these programs do not specifically address or target the role of the urban environment, and urban development experts and planners are often unaware of the potential health impacts of their interventions. Plenary speakers will reflect on the linkages between the urban setting, the impact of policies to promote the health of urban populations at different stages across the life course, and the sustainability of these policies over time.

Moderator: Dr. Carlos Dora, President-Elect 2021-2023, International Society for Urban Health, Geneva, Switzerland

Urban placemaking for babies, toddlers and their families - Cecilia Vaca Jones, Executive Director, Bernard van Leer Foundation, The Hague, Netherlands

Reproductive health in the city and the impact of COVID-19 - Dr. Clea Finkle, Social Science and International Public Health Specialist, Seattle, Washington

Age-friendly environments: What type of city promotes health and wellbeing in old age? - Alana Officer, Unit Head, Demographic Change and Healthy Aging World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland

Work, rights, and health in the city: What does ensuring a just transition mean in the context of a pandemic? - Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation, Brussels, Belgium

ICUH2021 Plenary #5 - Climate Change and Urban Health

Climate change is a major driver of urban health. Cities are especially susceptible to the adverse impacts of warming, sea-level rise, and increasingly frequent and severe extreme events. These impacts are inequitably distributed, and they are disproportionately experienced by vulnerable urban populations. Cities, in turn, play an important role in driving climate change. Urban areas contribute significantly to energy use, greenhouse gas emissions, and resource consumption – and present unique opportunities to mitigate environmental impacts, adapt to change, and promote health. This plenary session will center around the impact of climate change on health and health equity in cities; the health and environmental co-benefits of urban policies; and ways that cities can be designed, built, and governed to reduce environmental impacts and mitigate the effects of climate change on health.

Dr. José Siri, Senior Science Lead - Cities, Urbanization and Health, Our Planet Our Health, Wellcome Trust, London, United Kingdom

Urban living and environmental sustainability: challenges and opportunities - Dr. Karen C. Seto, Frederick C. Hixon Professor of Geography and Urbanization Science, Yale School of the Environment, New Haven, USA

Diet as a driver of health challenges and climate change: priorities for policy action - Dr. Juan Rivera, General Director, National Institute of Public Health, Mexico City, Mexico

Building healthy, resilient, and equitable cities: insights from two secondary cities - Heidi Tuhkanen, Senior Expert, Environmental Management Program, Stockholm Environment Institute, Tallin, Estonia

Cities in the era of climate change and planetary health: Lessons from Asia - Dr. Renzo Guinto, Associate Professor of Global Public Health, Inaugural Director, Planetary and Global Health Program, St. Luke’s Medical Center College of Medicine, Quezon City, Philippines

ICUH2021 Plenary #6 - Urban Health in Latin America and the Caribbean

Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is among the most urbanized regions of the world. Over 80% of the region’s population lives in urban areas that are heterogenous in their size, form, and social environments. For decades, the region has led innovative programs, policies, initiatives, and interventions that promote urban health and health equity. Lessons about the drivers of health in LAC cities and the most effective strategies for promoting urban health in the region have relevance for cities across the world. This plenary session will explore health conditions and the drivers of health in LAC cities and discuss effective policies, programs, and strategies to promote urban health and health equity in the region.

Moderator: Dr. Tonatiuh Barrientos, Director of the Center for Population Health, National Institute of Public Health, Mexico City, Mexico

The state of health and the environment in LAC cities - Dr. Usama Bilal, Assistant Professor, Drexel University, Philadelphia, USA

Promoting health in Caribbean cities - Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director, Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA), Barbados

A regional agenda for addressing social determinants of health in cities - Dr. Orielle Solar, Regional Advisor, Social Determinants of Health, World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization, Santiago, Chile

Grassroots movements for urban health and health equity in the region - Mariana Alegre Escorza, Executive Director, Lima Como Vamos / Occupy your Street, Lima, Peru

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Cities are the main drivers of national development and present opportunities to transform a nation's health and wellbeing, so cities must be at the forefront of tackling the global sustainable development agenda.