European Week of the Regions and Cities (side event)
The 21st edition of European Week of Regions and Cities took place 9-12 October 2023, and is the largest annual event dedicated to regional policy. Of the 220 workshops and 500 speakers, one side event particularly caught EuropeActive’s attention: Cross-border cooperation for creating a healthy environment roundtable.
JOGG, the event organiser, is a entity implementing community-based programmes targeting children and young people under the age of 19, which strive to reshape direct environments to promote healthy lifestyles and tackle excess weight and obesity. Originally dedicated to working with Dutch municipalities, counting over a third of the Netherlands’ municipalities collaborating with 200, JOGG’s approach and method has been selected as a public health best practice for healthy eating and active lifestyles by the OECD in 2022.
The JOGG method and approach notably relies on securing long-term political commitment, involving a broad array of community stakeholder representatives, enabling public-private partnerships, ensuring shared ownership, and on monitoring implementation. These key principles are undeniable factors having contributed to the programme being scientifically proven to spark positive health benefits. With a minimal implementation of 4 years, the JOGG programme has reduced by 9% the number of overweight children and adolescents, and is most successful in lower-socioeconomic areas. JOGG offers an e-learning course on Challenging the obesogenic environment- Towards a Community-Based approach’, which can be found on their website.
The roundtable event included a keynote from MEP Samira Rafaela, who stressed how essential healthy lifestyles are for creating equal opportunities across societies, and who supports a European healthcare strategy that leaves no one behind.
Roundtable speakers included Marjon Bachra (JOGG), Ingrid Stegeman (EuroHealthNet), Callum Leese (University of Dundee), and Caspar Sluiter (VNG Association of Dutch Municipalities), and the fascinating exchanges touched on how much an individual’s environment affects their health status, shifting from curative to preventative healthcare system and mindset, and the need for our societies and economies to fully integrate well-being as a goal and reality for people.