Urban health is about the health of people in cities and the healthy design and functioning of urban environments connected to their rural hinterlands by a web of exchange networks facilitating flows of data, energy and resources in multiple complex systems spanning around the entire globe. Most of the global human population lives in cities and their impact on the environment and climate is enormous. However, cities are also the places for creativity and innovation which are needed to find solutions to multiple global crises and to transform social, ecological and technological systems so that improving human wellbeing is not achieved at the expense of planetary health.
Ecological Civilization is about the relationship between socio-cultural and ecological systems, whereas the term ‘civilization’ also refers to society’s institutions which define that relationship. The general idea is harmony between humans and nature. That relationship can be considered “healthy” when it is mutually supportive. The health focus implies a need for systemic interconnectivity. Linking rural and urban systems and rural revitalization, but also linking science to practice, applying deliberative and intelligent governance in systems which link data-knowledge and action seems to be essential for a resilient and responsive design of urban environments. In a “big world on a small planet”, where complexity, uncertainty and systemic risks are increasing, people need to rethink fundamental values, transform operational and governance modes and also change ways of measuring progress.
The 1st international UHWB summer school brings together international thought leaders to present ideas, concepts and cases and to discuss how healthy urban environments can shape ecological civilization. The lectures aim at connecting the two concepts of urban health and ecological civilization and to deliberate on the question “which role urban and rural civilizations alike can play in safeguarding the health of people, cities and the environment.” Members of the UHWB programme’s scientific committee and its global network partners will give lectures and engage in a dialogue with participants, to address that question. The summer school lectures will be online and is free of charge.