Co-sponsored by the International Science Council (ISC), the United Nations University (UNU), and the InterAcademy Partnership (IAP), the Urban Health and Wellbeing (UHWB) programme was launched as a ten-year programme to address the major challenges to health and wellbeing in the urban environment. Starting in 2014 its International Programme Office at the Institute of Urban Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences (IUE, CAS) took up its operation.
The UHWB programme addresses the emerging health challenges in urban environments which are under the influence of and accelerated by broader climate, epidemiological, demographic and ecological changes. The programme recognizes the increasing complexity and interconnectedness of cities as socio-ecological-technological systems and the associated risks to the health and wellbeing of people living in cities. Ageing, safety, inequality, malnutrition, migration, transport, pollution and a range of communicable and non-communicable diseases are among some of the problem areas for which better knowledge and data need to be created, integrated and communicated for improving urban decision-making. However, despite the increasing amount and availability of data the decision-making process requires more systems intelligence to better cope with complexity and progress towards the global goals and targets of the UN landmark agreements of the New Urban Agenda, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG).
The UHWB programme therefore aims at promoting and encouraging the application of various types of systems approaches in different fields of urban health and wellbeing by developing methodology, identifying and integrating data, strengthening capacity, communication, outreach and decision support to support the implementation of the UN landmark agreements. The programme aims at facilitating the creation of systems intelligence for improving health and wellbeing in changing urban environments.
The UHWB Programme is directed by the Science Committee and the International Programme Office (IPO) which decided to establish a limited number of International
Centres of Excellence (ICE). An ICE can be based on and located at existing organisations, such as Public Health Agencies, focusing on public, global, urban health research and service delivery, research and development, education and awareness raising with a focus on cities. The ICE should operate in networks of other hubs engaging and collaborating with other organisations in the region, country or city.