Implications, Health Impact Assessment and Planning

Workpackage 5 – Implications, policy and guidelines
Led by Roderick Lawrence (UNIGE)

The practice of prescribing minimum standards for the quality of a wide range of environmental constituents of residential environments (air, water supply, public space) has led to a significant improvement in site planning, building construction and urban design in both industrialized and developing countries. When these standards are examined in terms of their rationale and objectives, it becomes clear that they have commonly been defined and applied with economic, technological and political priorities in mind, whereas the lifestyle, sense of community, identity, and health and well being of local populations have been largely undervalued.

WP5 proposed work will apply a human ecological perspective, challenging the misuse of inflexible norms through a set of guidelines. These will challenge those policy decision-makers and professional practitioners that have commonly ignored human values, except perhaps monetary values. They have also often assumed that human activities and experience can be measured strictly in quantifiable terms. In contrast, the guidelines proposed as a result of this project will show that it is necessary to consider environmental, social, economic and other components of natural and built environments in ways that also reflect and result from the point of view of citizens. Although much attention has been given to the biological and ecological functions of natural environments in urban areas especially in the context of extreme weather conditions, PHENOTYPE will complement this approach by valorising the social/human functions of these environments, especially their contribution to promoting health and quality of life.

This enlarged and innovative approach is founded on the principles of human ecology. This approach will be applied to formulate, test and validate a set of recommendations and guidelines concerning the desired characteristics of different types of natural environments in urban and rural areas, specifically their characteristic features, accessibility to them for different population groups, as well as their facilities, maintenance and services. The contribution of WP5 is meant to overcome the existing applicability gap between information and knowledge accumulated by much research and policy definition and implementation.

The PHENOTYPE databases and overall results will be exploitable by policy makers at national and international level in areas including urban planning and health. The information will be peer reviewed and publicly available, for example providing a resource to health professionals for service review, as well as a means for the general public to make informed choices on lifestyle.