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[Publication] Sustainable and resilient territories: a major public health issue

How can public health and environmental issues be systematically included in the heart of the territorial strategy and the decisions made in defining projects? How can health imperatives be integrated into planning, design, and management for sustainable, resilient, and resident-friendly urbanism? 

This document aims to answer these questions by presenting several ways to achieve sustainable urbanism, which is a priority for territories and serves as a tool for improving urban health. 

This booklet is the result of a joint work by members from the 4 bodies of Sustainable City by France: actors from the public and private sectors, health professionals, territorial planners, as well as those involved in nature preservation, biodiversity, and ecosystems, within a working group called “Health and Sustainable Cities.” It is intended for all professionals. 

Its objective is to bring together a number of recommendations, methodological elements, tools, and essential references that allow for the integration of health issues and determinants into a strategy for sustainable and resilient territories. 


In short

“A state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being achieved and maintained throughout life, provided by healthy, enriching, and fulfilling living conditions and access to appropriate resources of quality, used responsibly and efficiently”: the concept of sustainable health, as defined at the Johannesburg Earth Summit in 2002 to complement the WHO’s 1946 definition, makes environmental issues a major public health concern. 

Living in good health is regularly cited in opinion polls as one of the main concerns of the French population. However, when air pollution is responsible for 40,000 premature deaths each year in France, and the heatwave of summer 2022 leads to an additional 3,000 deaths, sustainable planning and the resilience of territories become a priority for public policies. It is therefore necessary to anticipate the consequences of urban choices on health-determining factors and prioritize options that promote the well-being of residents. 

The highly visible effects of climate change and the exceeding of planetary boundaries make the debate even more imperative. They significantly exacerbate health risks – not to mention the threat of the collapse of our human societies – and provoke growing concern. Among those under 30, in particular, awareness of the dangers posed by climate change even translates into eco-anxiety (fear of the future) or solastalgia (distress in the face of loss), which are conditions that cause distress and depression. While healthy life expectancy does not take into account mental health aspects, it must be properly considered within the framework of urban policies. 

In the era of the Anthropocene, addressing health issues has become paramount for cities and territories. 

It was therefore natural for Sustainable City by France to delve into this issue and provide an overview of the available work and knowledge, as well as innovative initiatives and ideas that can enrich local planning policies. 

Further information

This document is the outcome of the discussions carried out by the working group of SCbF, which brought together representatives from the government, local authorities, businesses, and experts. It is an operational deliverable, which aims to provide professionals with recommendations, tools, and methods for responsible digital practices that contribute to the ecological and social transformation of territories

About Solène

Mission Officer, Working Group, and Projects. Student at the Urban School of Sciences Po Paris, focusing on the ecological transition of cities.

About Quentin

Motivated by climate issues and planetary boundaries, Quentin decided to study land use planning at the Ecole Nationale des Ponts et Chaussées. His experience in associative field at the Fresque du Climat, helped him to better understand the stakes of the ecological bifurcation. Between his native Haute-Savoie and his home town Rennes, where he gained expertise in mobility and sustainable agriculture, he is now based in Paris to deploy the Sustainable City by France’s territorial workshops throughout the country.

About Alice

After five years’ study at Sciences Po Lyon, with a specialization in territorial transitions, Alice joined Sustainable City by France (France Villes et territoires Durables). She actively contributes to the deployment of the association’s territorial workshops and working groups.
See her LinkedIn profile 

Currently studying as a second-year Master’s student in International Relations at University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, Tara holds a Bachelor’s degree from INALCO, with a double-major in Hindi language, and International relations / Environmental studies. Her work with us is in line with her former experiences at UNESCO and the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs, thus deepening her professional expertise in the field of environmental diplomacy and international cooperation for sustainable development.

See her LinkedIn profile


She holds a Master’s degree in Development Economics from the Panthéon-Sorbonne University and is currently studying for a Master’s degree in International Relations and Action Abroad at the same university. She approaches the problems of sustainable cities and territories through these different perspectives and her international experiences.

About Isabelana

Isabelana is a Mexican journalist who holds a Master’s degree in Digital Communication and Data Analysis from the Sorbonne University. She previously worked in communication and press relations in the cultural sector in France and Mexico. Today, she is interested in ecological actions and solutions to preserve the environment and the biodiversity.

About Camille

camille photo
With a background in social sciences, art history and architecture, Camille has worked in communication within the VINCI group: from major international projects to La Fabrique de la Cité, a think tank dedicated to urban foresight.

About Alexandra

A geographer by training (Saint Petersburg State University), she started as a geographer and economist at the Academy of Agricultural Economics (Russia), before pursuing her career in France as an administrative and accounting assistant (Air Liquide, Association TGV Provence Côte d’Azur, COFHUAT, Groupe Hervé)

About Marion

Trained in international and European affairs between England and France as part of a double degree at Sciences-Po Lille / University of Kent, Marion started her career in advocacy and institutional relations of non-governmental organisations, in the fair trade sector (Max Havelaar France label). Her experiences are also linked to territories, with a passage in decentralised cooperation at the level of a departmental council.

About Sébastien

Before joining the SCbF team, he held several positions in local government management. From elected official and deputy mayor of his native city Besançon, in charge of university relations and international cooperation, to Director of Economic Development of the City of Pantin, to Chief of staff in Montreuil – where he notably piloted the in-depth redesign of the urban project towards more ecology and sustainable development – he continued his career as Senior Resilience Officer of the City of Paris.
He promotes a holistic and systemic vision of sustainable development and brings his expertise in territorial resilience, ecological and social transition.