On 27th June, EuropeActive attended a knowledge partner event for the All Policies for a Healthy Europe Coalition. This health equity workshop involved the economy working group and was hosted by Political Intelligence. It brought together a range of stakeholders to discuss the importance of wellbeing and health equity for European society. This will be a strong feature in the manifesto being produced by the coalition, seeking to gain traction in 2024.
The workshop was centred on monitoring indicators and policy approaches to enhancing population health and wellbeing. Dynamic discussion was facilitated by three keynote speakers: Andrea Schmidt (expert in the relationship between climate change and health, Austrian Public Health Institute), Lara Fleischer (expert in a wellbeing approach to policy topics, OECD) and Fatima Awil (expert in mental health, Mental Health Europe). This breadth of knowledge enabled valuable exchange, with the conversation focused on multisectoral approaches and how to enact a wellbeing approach in practice.
Mental health emerged as a key theme, in light of the Commission’s recent breakthrough communication on this topic. Participants shared the need for enhanced research on the drivers of positive mental health, which includes physical activity. A further key narrative was the importance of shifting from a health in all policies, to a health for all policies approach. This means health promotion and prevention efforts must be realigned on the co-benefits which are provided across sectors. This will encourage a whole of government, multisectoral approach. Common responsibility for health and wellbeing across sectors was also seen as important, with narratives needing to enhance the salience of action for multiple stakeholders.
A key practical example discussed was the Barcelona superblock project. This unique form of spatial planning includes restricted car access and pedestrianisation in neighbourhoods. It holds a wide range of benefits, including reduced transport emissions and air pollution, decreased noise pollution which benefits mental wellbeing and increased opportunity for physical activity. It also enables mixed used of street space to foster community cohesion. Therefore, such projects provide multiple benefits across sectors.
The discussion from this session will feed into the drafting of the All Policies for Healthy Europe manifesto, which will be released in 2024 as a main pillar of advocacy for the coalition.