Dr Anika Haque (Environment and Geography) and Prof Helen Elsey (Health Sciences) are running an all-day workshop on ‘Understanding the overlapping risks of climate change and urbanization: building a response to gendered well-being’ at a city hotel in Dhaka on Tuesday 18 July 2023. The workshop is bringing together government, NGO and civil society officials, donors, practitioners and academicians representing the environment, health, gender and development sectors. You can find the full details in this word document "Press release - Dhaka workshop 2023 (MS Word , 15kb)" or find out more about the project on the YESI website here.
Rapid and uncontrolled growth of towns and cities is a key feature of almost all countries in the Global South while health and social inequities are found within urban areas in the Global North. Understanding the relationships between urbanisation and health, and how health and wellbeing can be improved and protected within urban areas is a global challenge of our time.
The very nature of urbanisation necessitates a trans-disciplinary approach, with collaboration across disciplines producing synergistic results. For example, understanding the impacts of the urban environment on health requires inputs from environmental scientists, chemists, civil engineers, sociologists, public health and health system specialists and can result in solutions that address multiple problems and provide social, health and environmental benefits.
Further, interventions that address one aspect of urbanisation without fully considering wider impacts are destined to fail. This can be clearly seen in slum clearance strategies from South Africa to India and Brazil, where residents have been relocated to improved housing on the outskirts of cities, but with no consideration given to access to work or the impact on social cohesion, people quickly return to slum housing within the city to maintain their livelihood.
This importance of building sustainable cities is enshrined in UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 11, with 193 countries signed up to meet 10 targets covering housing, transport, environmental impact as well as participatory planning and governance in urban areas.
The University of York with its long history of multi-disciplinary collaboration has a vital role to play in strengthening the evidence of how urbanisation impacts on health and what works in improving health and wellbeing in urban areas. The Urbanisation and Health Network builds connections among researchers from health, arts and humanities and the natural, physical and environmental sciences.
We seek ways to inspire and stimulate researchers to develop novel approaches drawing on the multiple perspectives and methods from across the disciplines. Our focus is on understanding the impacts of urbanisation on health and well-being and developing and testing approaches to improve health and well-being in urban areas in low and lower-middle-income countries, and poor neighbourhoods in high-income countries.
Click here to watch our recent webinar with Anika Haque.
Our aims are to:
1. Promote understanding
We aim to promote, share and extend new methods used across disciplines to understand the impacts of urbanisation
2. Share knowledge
We strive to identify and share emerging new knowledge and available data sets on the influence of urbanisation on health and effective responses to inform joint publications and future grant proposals. The initial focus will be on sharing within the University of York, further resources and possibilities of sharing data with groups in other institutions will be explored.
We plan to extend our collaborations with academics from the global south and north, including linking with other networks in associated topics, to strengthen York’s existing and future work on urban health.
4. Support research
We plan to support early-career academics, postdoctoral and postgraduate researchers, and PhD researchers across departments and faculties with York to gain exposure to other disciplinary approaches, make connections with each other and with leading thinkers on the impacts of urbanisation.
Network members lead a variety of projects that look at urbanisation and health from different disciplinary perspectives, from the physical sciences and chemistry of pollution, the wider social determinants and social science of health inequities, urban governance, policy and health systems through to impacts on health risk factors and outcomes. Follow these links to find out more about CHORUS research on urban health systems, ARISE on informal settlements and IDEAMAPS on urban data.
Understanding the ‘overlapping’ risks of climate change and urbanization: building a response to gendered well-being
In a significant stride towards understanding the intricate relationship between climate change, urbanisation, and gendered wellbeing, Dr Anika Haque (Dept of Environment and Geography) and Prof Helen Elsey (Dept of Health Sciences) led an interdisciplinary project titled "Understanding the 'overlapping' risks of climate change and urbanisation" funded by the YESI (York Environmental Sustainability Institute) Knowledge Exchange Scheme.
The research, centred in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, one of the world's fastest-growing megacities, aimed to shed light on the multifaceted challenges arising from unplanned development and extreme climate change vulnerability. The project focused on the intersection of these risks and their impact on gendered wellbeing.
The interdisciplinary team, composed of experts from environment, development, and health sciences, collaborated with academic and non-governmental organisations in Bangladesh, including ICCCAD, ActionAid Bangladesh, and ARK Foundation.
The project delved into critical aspects such as how different stakeholders approach overlapping risks concerning gendered wellbeing, identifying enablers and barriers to multi-sectoral actions, and uncovering knowledge and practice gaps hindering effective responses.
Aiming to bridge these gaps, the team organised a multi stakeholder workshop and a capacity building workshop, engaging practitioners, city government officials, and NGO/civil society representatives from the environment, development, and health sectors and conducted a number of interviews. Beyond identifying issues, the project also offered systems thinking training to empower Bangladeshi stakeholders in their efforts to address overlapping risks.
Tragically, the research community mourns the loss of Prof Saleemul Huq, a key project partner from ICCCAD, who passed away shortly after participating in the venture. His contribution remains integral to the project's success.
The outcomes of this research include a Policy Brief and a video vlog. The video serves as a testament to the collaborative efforts and the urgency of addressing the overlapping risks posed by climate change and urbanisation on gendered wellbeing.