Cities across the world are being urged to sign up to a new health and physical activity promotion scheme that is proven to increase individual and collective well-being among the world’s growing urban population.
Ten pilot cities are currently testing the Global Active City model and show significant improvements in sports participation and public health outcomes.
The scheme is now being rolled out worldwide, with all cities invited to join the initiative and eventually to become a Global Active City.
The project was announced on 3 October 2017 by the Active Well-being Initiative (AWI), at the Smart Cities & Sport Summit organised by the World Union of Olympic Cities in Montreal. “Decision-making is often faster in cities than at national or international levels,” explained Gabriel Messmer, president of Evaleo, one of the NGOs which founded the AWI. “Thus, delivering tangible behavioural changes to the lives of an ever-growing number of city dwellers can be more effective if managed at a city, neighbourhood or even school and club level.”
According to Wolfgang Baumann, Secretary General of TAFISA, the AWI's other founding organisation: “Cities are in need of a framework, access to best practices and the capacity to share and learn from each other. They often face the same challenges regarding urbanisation and inactivity, even though they all have various constraints, contexts and resources to deal with. We try to assist and guide them as best as we can for the well-being of their population.”
The AWI has developed a number of standards, supporting tools and training modules to enable cities and their leaders to take healthy steps towards the enhanced well-being of their population. In due course, cities can obtain the Global Active City label, to illustrate the quality and effectiveness of their projects in this area.
While all cities have their own structure and culture, they often face the same challenges: growing urbanisation, increasingly sedentary lifestyles and social inequality. The AWI thus takes a systemic, flexible and evolutive approach, and provides tools that can be adapted to the local context in terms of size, environment and objectives.
The IOC has supported the AWI since the early days of its development in 2013. For Marie Sallois-Dembreville, IOC Director of Corporate Development, Brand and Sustainability, cities have a new, pragmatic way to enhance the quality of life of their citizens, and particularly their young people: “The AWI is a powerful solution for cities to promote active and healthy living. It clearly demonstrates a city’s achievements in creating lasting social benefits through sport. We welcome this initiative, which fits perfectly with the recent IOC legacy approach.
The city of Liverpool (Great Britain), the first to put in place its own “Active City” model, back in 2005, is proud of its positive results. When the programme was launched, fewer than one person in five exercised for at least 30 minutes, three times a week. Twelve years later, that figure is now one adult in two. Liverpool’s next target is to become the most active city in England by 2021 and use its experience to help other cities.
As well as Liverpool, there were nine other pilot cities around the world: Buenos Aires (Argentina), Gaborone (Botswana), Karşiyaka (Turkey), Lausanne (Switzerland), Lillehammer (Norway), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea), Richmond (Canada) and Tampere (Finland).
The Global Active City programme, which is aligned with the recommendations and guidelines of the WHO, UNESCO, UN Habitat and other international organisations, has now been rolled out all over the world, with all cities invited to join this initiative to become a Global Active City.
For Luis Gustavo Lobo, Olympian in tennis and now Undersecretary of Sports for the City of Buenos Aires: “Working with the AWI as one of the pilot cities helped us to better structure our approach and to focus on key priorities. It also opened new forms of collaboration between city departments and experts who rarely work together. We now have a new momentum to tackle some of the pressing needs of our youth population.”
John Marsden, former Head of Liverpool Active City, has been seconded by Liverpool City Council and Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) to share his knowledge and experience with other cities. He said: “The City of Liverpool is delighted to be an advisory city for the Active Well-being Initiative. We launched our first Active City model in 2005 and have enjoyed numerous benefits from its joined-up approach. When we started, fewer than one person in five exercised for at least 30 minutes, three times a week. We have seen such dramatic changes that our new target is to become the most active city in England by 2021. We are excited to have the opportunity to share our experiences with other cities who may be starting out in creating their own model. Through cities coming together, we can reverse the trend globally and turn city dwellers into more active, healthy and happy citizens.”
To find out more visit www.activewellbeing.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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