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Global Mayors and Delegates Gather in London for First-of-its-Kind Summit on Creating Healthier Cities Worldwide

 WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Injuries Michael R. Bloomberg advocates for proven interventions to prevent noncommunicable diseases and injuries at Partnership for Healthy Cities Summit hosted by Bloomberg Philanthropies, World Health Organization, Vital Strategies, and Mayor Sadiq Khan of London

 London Mayor Sadiq Khan speaks on reducing children’s exposure to unhealthy food and drink, and discusses urgency to address air pollution 

Second cohort of cities announced for Policy Accelerator Program to help cities implement strategic, local policy

 Results from a survey of mayors show public health is a rising political priority

LONDON – Today, the inaugural Partnership for Healthy Cities Summit brought together mayors and officials from more than 50 cities around the world to discuss urgent public health concerns and best practices that save lives and create healthier, more vibrant cities. During the Summit, five global cities were recognized for their achievements in implementing high-impact policy or programmatic interventions to prevent noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) and injuries. 

“In low- and middle-income countries, 40 percent of all deaths are people under 70 dying from NCDs and injuries. That’s so many lives cut short, from causes that are often preventable. Sadly, the death toll will only grow, unless we do something. It won’t take a miracle. It will take smart policies – and the political will to implement them and defend them,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg LP and Bloomberg Philanthropies, 108th mayor of New York City, and WHO Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases and Injuries. “That’s why mayors are leading the way on NCDs and injuries. Mayors around the world have shown they have the will to fight the tough battles and do what’s right, and to take risks and try new things.”

The Summit took place at the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel in London, hosted by Bloomberg Philanthropies in partnership with the World Health Organization and Vital Strategies. Attendees included more than 200 mayors and city delegates from around the globe, including Summit co-host London Mayor Sadiq Khan, who spoke about reducing children’s exposure to unhealthy food and drink through advertising restrictions.

“Mayors have a vital role to play in the fight against these preventable diseases and injuries, through policies that give people more access to healthy food, smoke-free spaces, safe roads and healthy conditions in which to live and work,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

Mayor Khan also spoke with Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debra, a clean air advocate, during a fireside chat about the importance of improving air quality. Adoo-Kissi-Debra became an advocate for clean air when her 9-year-old daughter was the first in the UK to have air pollution listed as a cause of death. Air pollution is a risk factor for heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer. 

“We have a number of deaths that occur in our city, every year, that don’t need to. The biggest issues we are facing are health inequalities. If you’re born in one part of London and of a certain socio-economic background, your life expectancy is much longer than somebody two miles away,” said the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. “The pandemic exposed structural inequalities in our society. So the biggest issue in 2023 is addressing those inequalities. The air quality in the more deprived part of London where people are least likely to own a car is much worse than the richer parts of the city where people own cars.” 

“The rate of asthma has gone up and since my daughter died, the number of children who die from asthma hasn’t gone down, but there is hope.” said Rosamund Adoo-Kissi-Debra CBE, BreatheLife champion, founder and trustee of the Ella Roberta Foundation. “People sometimes say to me you continue to campaign and children continue to die, why do you do it? The hope is that between March 20, 2020 and July 4, 2020 in the UK, for the first time ever, no child died from asthma, because there was a lockdown and no cars were on the road.”

During the Summit, five member cities were recognized with a 2023 Partnership for Healthy Cities Award for positively impacting the health of their population and making sustainable and lasting strides toward NCD and injury prevention that can be replicated in other jurisdictions. 

The five winners of the Partnership for Healthy Cities 2023 Awards were Montevideo, Uruguay for food policy; Mexico City, Mexico for road safety; Vancouver, Canada for data surveillance; Athens, Greece for overdose prevention, and Bengaluru, India for tobacco control. 

“We can make big progress in the fight against NCDs and save lives by reforming policy with a more forward-looking approach and real life-based design. This means going a step further in supporting and empowering our people on the front lines,” said Kostas Bakoyannis, Mayor of Athens. I’m grateful to our team for their devotion and great work. This award bolsters Athens’ commitment to continue raising awareness, protecting health and actively promoting development towards change on this urgent global issue.”

“I am honored to receive this award on behalf of Bengaluru for our commitment to enforce smoke-free laws and protect non-smokers from the harms of second-hand smoke. This is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our BBMP health team, civil society organizations and residents who have all worked together to create a healthier city for everyone.” said Dr Thrilok Chandra KV, IAS Special Commissioner (Health). “The focused effort from the Smoke-free Bengaluru resulted in a reduction of public smoking within the premises by 5.2% and a 51.9% increase in the display of No Smoking Signage .”

“We are absolutely thrilled to have received this award — it’s an incredible honor for Vancouver to be recognized for our commitment to building a healthier, more equitable city” said Ken Sim, Mayor of Vancouver. “The Partnership for Healthy Cities has enabled our city to make population health data more accessible, relevant and engaging to our community partners, and we look forward to continuing this important work.”

“We were awarded this recognition for our integrated mobility strategy, which consists of implementing various public policies and projects, which have allowed us to provide more options for active and safe mobility such as the Ciclovía Insurgentes and safer school environments,” said Claudia Sheinbaum, Mayor of Mexico City “Thank you to the residents of Mexico City for being the impetus of our actions and motivating us to continue working towards a safer and healthier city.”

“The city is honored to receive this award from the Partnership for Healthy Cities in recognition of the work we have been doing to promote a healthier life in Montevideo every day,” said Mayor Carolina Cosse of Montevideo, Uruguay. “Healthy eating is a fundamental part of our city’s health, environment and social justice.”

In 2021, the Partnership launched the Policy Accelerator program to support an initial cohort of 15 cities in the network to create and adopt strong public health policies and to institutionalize development processes for future policy. The six-month program resulted in a formal policy proposal, stakeholder engagement, and advocacy to promote the policy’s adoption and implementation. A second cohort of Policy Accelerator Cities was announced today at the Summit and included: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Amman, Jordan; Athens, Greece; Bandung, Indonesia; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Cali, Colombia; Cape Town, South Africa; Dakar, Senegal; Freetown, Sierra Leone; Greater Manchester, UK; Istanbul, Turkey; Kampala, Uganda; Lusaka, Zambia; Mexico City, Mexico and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. 

“Cities are places where health can be produced or compromised,” said José Luis Castro, President and CEO, Vital Strategies. “We applaud the work of urban leaders around the globe in their efforts to create healthier, stronger and more vibrant cities and proudly welcome the second cohort of cities to the Policy Accelerator. We are eager to continue our work supporting those cities with tools and resources to bring their ideas for policies to fruition.”

Along with celebrating the policies that local leaders around the world have enacted to improve the health and safety of millions of people, the Partnership for Healthy Cities released survey results from participating mayors on city-level health priorities. Almost 90% of participating mayors felt that “elevating public health on the political agenda” increased in priority over the past three years, and 94% agreed that financial resources are a significant barrier in addressing public health issues.

Photo and Video Assets for Media Use: 

  • Photos: Photos are available for download and use at: Flickr
  • Videos: Livestream recording is available here. 
  • PHOTO AND VIDEO CREDIT: Bloomberg Philanthropies 
  • Social: Catch up on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook with #Cities4Health and #CiudadesSaludables @BloombergDotOrg, @vitalstrat and @who.

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About the Partnership for Healthy Cities
The Partnership for Healthy Cities (PHC), supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies in partnership with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Vital Strategies, is a prestigious global network of 70 cities whose mayors have committed to prevent NCDs—including cancer, diabetes, heart disease and chronic lung disease—and injuries through proven interventions.

About Bloomberg Philanthropies
Bloomberg Philanthropies invests in 700 cities and 150 countries around the world to ensure better, longer lives for the greatest number of people. The organization focuses on five key areas for creating lasting change: the Arts, Education, Environment, Government Innovation, and Public Health. Bloomberg Philanthropies encompasses all of Michael R. Bloomberg’s giving, including his foundation, corporate, and personal philanthropy as well as Bloomberg Associates, a pro bono consultancy that works in cities around the world. In 2022, Bloomberg Philanthropies distributed $1.7 billion. For more information, please visit bloomberg.org, sign up for our newsletter, or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

About the World Health Organization
Dedicated to the well-being of all people and guided by science, the World Health Organization leads and champions global efforts to give everyone, everywhere an equal chance at a safe and healthy life. We are the UN agency for health that connects nations, partners and people on the front lines in 150+ locations – leading the world’s response to health emergencies, preventing disease, addressing the root causes of health issues and expanding access to medicines and health care. Our mission is to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable.

For more information visit www.who.int and follow WHO on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, Pinterest,  YouTube

About Vital Strategies
Vital Strategies believes every person should be protected by an equitable and effective public health system. We partner with governments, communities and organizations around the world to reimagine public health so that health is supported in all the places we live, work and play. The result is millions of people living longer, healthier lives. To learn more visit www.vitalstrategies.org or follow us @VitalStrat.

Media Contacts

  • Veronica Lewin, Bloomberg Philanthropies, +1-212-205-0026 or veronical@bloomberg.org
  • Caroline Nelson, Powell Tate, +1 703-489-3037 or Caroline.Nelson@powelltate.com
  • Jaimie Guerra, World Health Organization, +41794755536 or guerraja@who.int
  • Ally Davis, Vital Strategies, +1-516-205-4203 or ADavis@vitalstrategies.org
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