Welcome to the World Health Organization European Healthy Cities Network Annual Business Meeting and Conference 2017
1-3 March 2017 – Pécs, Hungary
We are currently experiencing a period of crucial importance; environmental, social, political, cultural and economic shifts are placing an ever-increasing burden on our resources, communities and societies. This century will see a majority of the world’s population living in urban centres, and this increasing urbanization means that cities play a critical role in the improvement of the health and well-being of people, and are a crucial setting from which to sustainably improve the societies of future generations. In order to respond to challenges as they arise, we need cities which are inclusive, sustainable, and resilient. This is what the World Health Organization (WHO) European Healthy Cities Network members are striving towards.
As the Regional Focal Point for the WHO European Healthy Cities Network, it brings me great pleasure to welcome delegates to the 2017 WHO European Healthy Cities Network Annual Business Meeting. The conference will engage with, and respond to the pertinent issues of sustainable development, and I am delighted that this event is being held in Pécs, Hungary, which was one of the first cities to join the WHO European Healthy Cities Network. Framed by the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and recent discussions at the HABITAT III United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development and the 9th WHO Global Conference on Health Promotion, it will be the final Annual Business Meeting and Conference to be held during Phase VI of Network.
This conference offers an opportunity for the Networks to share practice on significant issues; to debate and discuss challenges, as well as the successes of policies and interventions at the municipal level, and to both contribute to and benefit from the expert knowledge of WHO staff and other technical experts. A significant amount of time will also be dedication to preparation for the future, not only in planning for the next phase, but as 2018 represents an important milestone, a celebration of 30 years of Healthy Cities. This event holds a key role in defining the future of Healthy Cities in the European Region.
I am extremely grateful to the City of Pécs for hosting us, and I very much look forward to meeting you and engaging in an important and timely discussion for both our Network and the region.
Regional Focal Point for the WHO European Healthy Cities Networks
Programme Manager Governance for Health
WHO Regional Office for Europe
The city of Pécs, with its 150,000 inhabitants, is the fifth largest city of Hungary. It is a 2000-year-old settlement, which is recently the administrative and economic centre of the South-West Transdanubian region, an Episcopal seet and the home of the oldest Hungarian university.
Our city is a vibrant multicultural place where 9 out of the 13 traditional ethnic minorities recognized in Hungary have lived peacefully together for centuries. The city received UNESCO “Cities for Peace Prize” in 1998, awarding the promotion of ethnic minority cultures and the receptive and tolerant attitude towards the refugees from the Balkan wars.
Pécs has managed to preserve its several thousand-year old architectural heritage as well, and thanks to the rich Roman relics the historic centre of Pécs was included in UNESCO Word Heritage list of universal cultural values in year 2000.
In 2010 Pécs was entitled to be one of the Cultural Capitals of Europe along with Essen Germany and Istanbul Turkey. This one year-long cultural season highlighted most of the cultural values and features of the city and opened them for Europe.
One of these cultural features was health culture as the city of Pécs had participated in the WHO European Healthy Cities Network since 1988 as one its founding cities.
We are proud to be a member of the WHO Healthy Cities Network as an accredited project city since the beginning. As an added value of being part of such a broad network in the past 28 years we not only had implemented into the local decision making system the tools and methods developed by Healthy Cities such as health development planning, but we have been able to participate in several international, European or national projects relating to different fields of health development, such as preventing childhood obesity, victim protection, anti-smoking communication campaign, women’s health, men’s health, etc.
Pécs is also the centre of the Hungarian National Network of Healthy Cities since its formulation in 1992. Now the Hungarian Speaking Association of Healthy Cities has 19 member cities from all over the country and beyond its borders.
Health is a crucial issue of all sectors, and local governments have a great responsibility to protect and promote the health and well-being of their citizens. I hope this conference can give a new impetus to the participants and encourages the politicians to become more active actors of our common efforts.
I wish you a pleasant stay in our renewing city and I hope that besides the conference programme and the site visits presenting our activities you have also time to see the sights and special attractions of our city, such as “Cella Septichora” – 4th century early Christian burial sites, part of the UNESCO world heritage, or the rehabilitated 5-hectare area of the “Zsolnay Cultural Quarter”.
City of Pécs