The Philosophy of the HEART – Health and Well-being in Urban Environment
The HEART project coordinated by National Technical University of Athens (NTUA) kicked-off in a two-day online conference in late March in eight European countries, with 19 partners from academia and different fields of expertise: health, urban planning, social studies, technological and innovation-oriented, along with cities/regions and their utility companies (water, green infrastructure, environment).
The acronym HEART comes from the very philosophy of this urban-health and well-being-inspired project’s title: HEAlthier cities Through blue-green Regenerative Technologies.
European and international cities face crucial global geopolitical, economic, environmental, and other changes. All these intensify threats to and inequalities in citizens’ health due to several factors such as living conditions/degraded environment, health-related behavior, education, occupation, and income. In the HEART project, we will focus our research efforts on a specific range of diseases, such as mental disorders (including stress, anxiety, depression), cardiovascular-related diseases (examples are hypertension or arrhythmia), obesity, diabetes, asthma, and allergies.
Urban areas are under heavy pressure to enhance policies towards more sustainable and livable environments and social tissue that support public health (PH) and well-being (WB). In HEART our target is to motivate citizens towards changing their behavior – daily habits – aiming to improve their public health and well-being.
That is where the HEART kicks in: we are altering the conventional approach to urban planning and revitalization currently based dominantly on profit criteria with routinized methodologies, towards the integrated nature-based methods and concepts with emphasis on health, societal and environmental aspects through the unique concept of HCPM (Health Centred Planning Methodology). To achieve this, HEART aims at engaging local communities to map the needs and challenges and to express their expectations/preferences so that delivered solutions are planned/created together and finally embraced by the citizens.
The HEART will intertwine the knowledge, experience, and data collected from the selected demo sites/areas in three cities Athens (Attika region, Greece), Belgrade (Serbia), and Aarhus (Midtjylland region, Denmark). The project’s methodology will map all the socio-cultural, health, and well-being issues, which will then be dealt with by our proven nature-based solutions: natural eco-systems, blue green solution (BGS)/natural components incorporated into the urban fabric that secure high-level health quality.
Our goal is to engage leading public health institutions to document the positive impacts of NBS/BGS through non-clinical and clinical evidence. The HEART will also point out in what ways, and to what extent, the city population exposed to direct, permanent contact and active engagement with nature become healthier, happier, more productive, less absent, and less conflicting. The goal of the HEART is to significantly improve public health (PH) and sense of well-being (WB) by combining blue-green solutions (BGS) with the plethora of engagement of citizens.
To achieve this holistic approach, the HEART project will activate the knowledge and expertise from its multidisciplinary partners to increase and enhance the network of good-will citizens and facilities that improve their health and well-being. It will promote interaction and recreation facilities for both mental and physical health, positive emotional experience, and a sense of healthy environment (cleaner water, air, soil) with advanced support of “circular economy” (recycling of material resources, urban farming), simply “healthy city for happy people”. Therefore, HEART proposes the systematic integration of healthier living environments and its citizens for the coming decades. This will also generate new types of jobs based on the blooming “eco-economy” and motivate governments and businesses to invest in these prosperous sectors for common benefit.
The HEARTers are:
National Technical University of Athens (Project Coordinator)
Ethniko kai Kapodistriako Panepistimio Athinon, Medical Department, Attiko Panepistimiako Nosokomeio (Attikon Hospital)
University of Warsaw, Institute for Social Studies
European Health Management Association
Imperial College of Science Technology and Medicine
Resilience Guard Gmbh
RISA Sicherheitsanalysen Gmbh
Institute of Public Health of Serbia “Dr Milan Jovanovic Batut”
Ministry of Health – National Health Operations Center
Region Midtjylland – Marselisborg Centret- City of Aarhus
Clinical-Hospital Centre “Dr Dragisa Misovic-Dedinje”
City of Belgrade – Grad Beograd
Region of Attica – Perifereia Attiki