City planning policies to support health and sustainability: an international comparison of policy indicators for 25 cities

Elsevier, The Lancet Global Health, Volume 10, June 2022
Lowe M., Adlakha D., Sallis J.F., Salvo D., Cerin E., Moudon A.V. et al.

City planning policies influence urban lifestyles, health, and sustainability. We assessed policy frameworks for city planning for 25 cities across 19 lower-middle-income countries, upper-middle-income countries, and high-income countries to identify whether these policies supported the creation of healthy and sustainable cities. We systematically collected policy data for evidence-informed indicators related to integrated city planning, air pollution, destination accessibility, distribution of employment, demand management, design, density, distance to public transport, and transport infrastructure investment. Content analysis identified strengths, limitations, and gaps in policies, allowing us to draw comparisons between cities. We found that despite common policy rhetoric endorsing healthy and sustainable cities, there was a paucity of measurable policy targets in place to achieve these aspirations. Some policies were inconsistent with public health evidence, which sets up barriers to achieving healthy and sustainable urban environments. There is an urgent need to build capacity for health-enhancing city planning policy and governance, particularly in low-income and middle-income countries.