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Vote Now for Active Cities, Healthy Cities!
A child enjoys a public square in Guadalajara, Mexico. Photo by Captain Victor.

A child enjoys a public square in Guadalajara, Mexico. Photo by Captain Victor.

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A new online competition, Active Cities, Healthy Cities, was launched today to raise awareness of cities in Latin America and the Caribbean dedicated to sustainable transport, the environment, and creating a healthy lifestyle for their citizens. The contest is being led by EMBARQ (the producer of this blog), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“We invite city officials to nominate projects that lead to safer streets, cleaner air, reduced carbon emissions, physically active citizens, and greater social inclusion,” said EMBARQ’s Latin America Strategic Director Luis Gutierrez. “This is a chance to show the world how mass transit, cycling, walking and vibrant public spaces can improve public health.”

PrintThe contest aims to raise awareness and engage urban communities, leaders and decision-makers about the impact of urban transport and development on public health. This year marks the fourth edition of the contest, which was created by PAHO and CDC in 2002. The contest has been supported by EMBARQ – The WRI Center for Sustainable Transport since 2007, with coordination by EMBARQ’s Center for Sustainable Transport in Mexico (CTS-México) and Center for Sustainable Transport in Brazil (CTS-Brasil).

“We are pleased to see the launch of Active Cities, Healthy Cities online,” said Dr. Becky Lankenau, Director of the CDC/World Health Organization Collaborating Center for Physical Activity and Health. “It is important to recognize innovative efforts by urban communities in urban transport and development.”

Any city official representing a municipality, local government or associated agency can sign up for an account on the tri-lingual website—displayed in English, Portuguese and Spanish—and nominate projects that relate to one of four main categories: 1) Sustainable Transport and Air Quality, 2) Public Space, Security and Civic Culture, 3) Physical Activity and Recreation, and 4) Road Safety. Users will have the chance to include written details about their project, plus upload related photos and videos.

Once a project is submitted, it will be open to online public voting, which will occur in three rounds, ending in August. Projects can be shared online through social media, including Facebook and Twitter. The projects that receive the most votes in each category at the end of each round will automatically be identified as finalists and reviewed by a panel of expert judges from the fields of urban and transport planning and public health.

“For the first time, we’re bringing this contest online to allow as many people as possible to participate,” said Enrique Jacoby, Regional Advisor on Healthy Eating and Active Living at PAHO. “We encourage everyone to vote for their favorite projects and share them with friends and fellow citizens, especially through social media. While viruses are usually dangerous in the public health community, we definitely want this contest to ‘go viral.’”

The four winners (one for each category) will be honored at an awards ceremony and be given opportunities to receive international media exposure, including a professionally produced video documentary about their project. The eight honorable mentions (two for each category) will also be exposed to international and local press, promoted on the Internet through online social media, and shared with other cities as a best practice of healthy, active living.

Winners will be announced on October 3-5 at the International Sustainable Transportation Congress, organized by EMBARQ’s Center for Sustainable Transport in Mexico (CTS-México) in Mexico City.

For more information, visit, or follow the contest on Twitter: @concursocacs.

The World Resources Institute ( is an environmental think tank that goes beyond research to find practical ways to protect the earth and improve people’s lives.

EMBARQ – The World Resources Institute Center for Sustainable Transport ( catalyzes environmentally and financially sustainable transport solutions to improve quality of life in cities.

The Pan American Health Organization serves as the Regional Office for the Americas of the World Health Organization. It works with all the countries of the Americas to improve the health and quality of life of their peoples.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is the US’ premier public health agency. CDC’s Mission is to collaborate to create the expertise, information and tools that people and communities need to protect their health- through health promotion, prevention of disease, injury and disability, and preparedness for new health threats.

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  • I personally walk to our nearest school or grocery store and time myself.  I am surprised at how quickly I can get where I want to go without driving- this helps me to have an active living.

  • Health is becoming a growing issue in urban local policy-making. Like cities in Latin America and the Caribbean, many European cities are developing a specific policy focused on urban health and quality sustainable living. Some of them have decided to cooperate in common projects to develop capacity building for professionnal development in the field of urban health.

    URBACT ( is a European exchange and learning programme that enables cities to work together and to develop solutions to major urban challenges like achieving a quality sustainable living.

    More precisely, the URBACT Building Healthy Communities ( project aims at capitalizing knowledge on urban factors influencing health, and creating opportunities for cities to shape and implement health policies. The project includes 10 European cities : Madrid, Torino, Belfast, Baia Mare, Lecce, Lidingo, Lodz, Amaroussion, Bacau, Barnsley.

    Each city then must set up a local support group which involves key stakeholders and acts as a steering committee for implementing a local action plan.

    Local support groups of partner cities achieve concrete initiatives. For instance the Torino Local Support Group ( is part of a bigger group of stakeholders whose common interest is the design of a huge complex urban regeneration programme located in a neighbourhood called Barriera di Milano which is characterised by numerous dismissed industrial sites.
    Therefore the Torino Local support group is designing its local action plan with the purpose of including a number of actions on quality of life and healthy lifestyles within such programme.

    Besides it has led other initiatives like promoting traditional medicine and integrated models for a healthy lifestyle to sustain integration of migrant population. Based on a local mapping of the existing health systems used by migrants, it will be testing actions for facilitating access to health services.

    For more information please refer to :

    – Building Health Communities’s Newsletter (February 2011) :

    – 2010 URBACT Conference :

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