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 see 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 live peaceful together for centuries. The city received the UNESCO Cities for Peace Prize in 1998, awarding the promotion of ethnical minority cultures and the receptive and tolerant attitude shown towards the refugees from the Balkan wars. Pécs has been able to preserve its several thousand-year old architectural heritage as well, and thanks to the rich Roman finds, in 2000 the historic centre of Pécs was included the UNESCO Word Heritage lists of universal cultural values. 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 open them for Europe.
One of these cultural features was the culture of health, because the city of Pécs has participated in the WHO European Healthy Cities Network (WHO-EHCN) since 1988 as one out of 11 founding cities. The WHO-EHCN recently consists of almost 100 cities. In addition, 20 accredited National Healthy Cities Networks in Europe have more than 1400 cities and municipalities as members. Nevertheless city of Pécs is still member of the WHO-EHCN, headquarters of the Hungarian Speaking Association of Healthy Cities too.
Health is a crucial issue of all sectors, and local governments have great responsibility to protect and promote the health and well-being of their dwellers. Consequently, the primary goal of the WHO-EHCN is to put health high on the social, economic and political agenda of city governments.
As the scope and purpose of the conference indicates, ’Pécs conference will be the final Annual Business Meeting and Conference to be held in Phase VI of the WHO WHO-EHCN, therefore it will be strategic and visionary in nature in preparation for the next phase of Healthy Cities. The plenary and session works will include a strong political vision, presented by the newly formed Political Vison Group with political participation from the participating cities and networks.
A special feature of this conference will be to dedicate significant time to the preparation for 2018, which celebrates 30 years of Healthy Cities and to the vision and criteria for the new phase, 2018 – 2022. There will be opportunities for dialogue between politicians and coordinators, learning & training for all delegates and surgeries that will offer the opportunity to consider city results from the mid-way review as well as other city challenges in improving health and reducing health inequities’.
I strongly beleive, that Pécs conference will provide a significant contribution to develop the vision for the next phase, so that the WHO European Healthy Cities Network can reinforce the engagement of the cities to tackle urban health problems and achieve the 11th Sustainable Developement Goal: ’making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable’. I hope this conference can give a new impetus to the Healthy City movement and encourages the politicians to become more active actors of our common efforts.
City of Pécs