CITIES CHANGING DIABETES IS A GLOBAL FIGHT AGAINST URBAN DIABETES

Today, two thirds of the 415 million people with diabetes live in cities. Urban diabetes is an emergency in slow motion, but its growth is not inevitable.

Cities Changing Diabetes is a partnership programme to address the urban diabetes challenge. Initiated by Novo Nordisk, the programme is a response to the dramatic rise of urban diabetes and has been developed in partnership with University College London and Steno Diabetes Center, as well as a range of local partners including the diabetes/health community, city governments, academic institutions, city experts from a variety of fields and civil society organisations.

To date, the following cities are partners of the programme: Mexico City, Houston, Copenhagen, Shanghai, Tianjin, Johannesburg and Vancouver.

The aim of the programme is to map the problem, share solutions and drive concrete action to fight the diabetes challenge in the big cities around the world.

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The aim of the public-private partnership

Realising that no one organisation and no one company can solve the challenge alone the programme is built on a first-of-its-kind public-private partnership opening up for cross-disciplinary and cross-sector collaboration. Working together we are setting out to create cities which help us live more healthily, and where people with diabetes can live life to the full.

Cities Changing Diabetes aims to:

  1. Put urban diabetes at the top of the global healthcare agenda. Experience has shown that it is possible to have great impact on the rise of a potentially devastating disease when healthcare systems are mobilised to see it as an urgent priority. By putting the spotlight on the scale and urgency of the issue in many cities across the world, we can help health systems to prioritise the challenge of urban diabetes.

  2. Put urban diabetes on the agenda of those shaping cities for the future. Urban planning has an important role to play in delivering health improvements in the way it designs and reshapes our cities. By helping those who design, manage and shape cities to understand the dynamics of urban diabetes, we can equip them to develop healthier cities for the future.

From research to action – map, share, act

Today, not enough is known about the dynamics of how urban development can drive diabetes, and how to deliver the potential health benefits that city living can bring. However, with the Cities Changing Diabetes Briefing Book we can contextualise the urban diabetes situation and give a global overview of the challenges associated with urban diabetes.

The Briefing Book serves as a central document for the Cities Changing Diabetes programme and serves as a strong engagement tool that contributes to provide both new and existing stakeholders with a common understanding of the severity of urban diabetes.

The programme is structured to understand the driving factors behind the rise of diabetes in urban areas, and to share that knowledge and apply it to real-world solutions. The programme has three interconnected elements:

1. Mapping
We are mapping the problem in a number of ‘study cities’ across the world. In each city we start the programme by generating a body of collective knowledge about urban diabetes: what’s working today? Where are the challenges and the priorities for the future?

2. Sharing
We are sharing the results from the cities in order to drive wider action around the world. And we will continuously share what is learnt and connect the dots between cities, so that everyone involved can gain from the experience and knowledge of others – and create solutions for their own local needs. We are using our influence and global networks to drive the issue of urban diabetes up the agenda worldwide.

3. Acting
We are working with partners to identify and scale up solutions to tackle diabetes in cities. The programme enables us to catalyse action. In the study cities, we are playing our part in helping to develop action plans. And across the world the learnings are intended to equip a wide range of partners in taking concerted and focused action on the ground in cities through health promotion and urban design.

Open letter to the world’s city leaders

In an Open letter: Wake up call for urban health: posted in the New York Times ahead of the UN Habitat III conference in Quito (Oct 2016), Cites Changing Diabetes partners wrote (excerpt):

“Current action does not reflect the scale of the [diabetes] crisis. First-hand experience has shown we need to look afresh at what’s driving the epidemic. If we don’t find new approaches, the threat of NCDs will overwhelm the health systems we depend on, compromise the quality of life we enjoy and seriously constrain the future economic prosperity that cities have the power to drive.

We call on national leaders, mayors and citizens worldwide to make health central to the ‘New Urban Agenda’. In doing so, we must find new ways to design, build and run cities that help people live healthy lives. To achieve this, we need:

1.    Greater focus on prevention of NCDs. We must recognize the risks presented by urban lifestyles and build health systems that not only deliver treatment but seek to prevent NCDs more effectively.

2.    Urban policies that prioritize health. Health must be built into every aspect of urban strategy where there are mutual benefits – from transport, housing and food to tackling climate change and inequalities.

3.    New models for collaboration. We must form new partnerships involving public and private organizations – bringing together national and city administrations, urban planners, health departments, businesses and communities.

We need to get this right. If not, the health of billions of urban citizens is at stake.”

Read the open letter in full

"Urban diabetes demands new ways of looking at old problems. It's a huge tidal wave that's behind us; we really have to do something about it - and we have to something about it now!"

Professor David Napier
Director 
The Science Medicine & Society Network
University College London

Leading Lights

In the Leading Lights film series seven urban planners, economists, health professionals and urban experts explain their perspectives on urban diabetes seen from their particular field of expertise.

The briefing book

THE BRIEFING BOOK

Today, not enough is known about the dynamics of how urban development can drive diabetes, and how to deliver the potential health benefits that city living can bring. However, with the Cities Changing Diabetes Briefing Book we can contextualize the urban diabetes situation and give a global overview of the challenges associated with urban diabetes.

The Briefing Book serves as a central document for the Cities Changing Diabetes Programme and serves as a strong engagement tool that contributes to provide both new and existing stakeholders with a common understanding of the severity of urban diabetes.

Today, not enough is known about the dynamics of how urban development can drive diabetes, and how to deliver the potential health benefits that city living can bring. However, with the Cities Changing Diabetes Briefing Book we can contextualize the urban diabetes situation and give a global overview of the challenges associated with urban diabetes.

The Briefing Book serves as a central document for the Cities Changing Diabetes Programme and serves as a strong engagement tool that contributes to provide both new and existing stakeholders with a common understanding of the severity of urban diabetes.