Urbanization

Tokyo, JapanRapid urbanization is the dominant demographic trend in the 21st century. Urban design must focus on optimizing natural resources and human health. When building and managing cities, it must be a priority to reduce the overall ecological footprints by reducing impacts on biodiversity; air and water pollution; and per capita energy, water, and arable land use. Designing highly efficient cities and simultaneously capitalizing on health co-benefits, such as cleaner air and using physical activity as transportation, could make an enormous positive impact on health. Further research is needed to develop principles of effective sustainable urban design that promote the physical and mental health of urban dwellers while reducing the global ecological footprint of the world's cities.

Learning Objectives

  • L1: Compare and contrast the health benefits with the health harms of urbanization.
  • L2: Explain the drivers of regional urbanization, including sociocultural and economic factors.
  • L3: Describe ongoing changes in the demographics of urban centers.
  • L4: Propose potential interventions in the urban context to improve health, considering economic, political and sociocultural influences.

 

Coker ME, Bond NR, Chee YE, Walsh CJ. Alternatives to biodiversity offsets for mitigating the effects of urbanization on stream ecosystems . Conservation Biology [Internet]. 2017. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Globally, offset schemes have emerged in many statutory frameworks relating to development activities, with the aim of balancing biodiversity conservation and development. While the theory and use of biodiversity offsets in terrestrial environments is broadly documented, little attention has been paid to offsets in stream ecosystems. Here we examine the application of offset schemes to stream ecosystems and explore whether they suffer similar shortcomings to those of offset schemes focused on terrestrial biodiversity. To challenge the applicability of offsets further, we discuss typical trajectories of urban expansion and their cascading physical, chemical and biological impacts on stream ecosystems. We argue that the highly connected nature of stream ecosystems and urban drainage networks can transfer impacts of urbanization across wide areas, complicating the notion of like-for-like exchange and the prospect of effectively mitigating biodiversity loss. Instead, we identify in-catchment options for stormwater control, which can avoid or minimize the impacts of development on downstream ecosystems, while presenting additional public and private benefits. We describe the underlying principles of these alternatives, some of the challenges associated with their uptake, and policy initiatives being trialled to facilitate adoption. In conclusion, we argue that stronger policies to avoid and minimize the impacts of urbanization provide better prospects for protecting downstream ecosystems, and can additionally, stimulate economic opportunities and improve urban liveability.

Lana RM, da Gomes MFC, de Lima TFM, Honório NA, Codeço CT. The introduction of dengue follows transportation infrastructure changes in the state of Acre, Brazil: A network-based analysis . PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases [Internet]. 2017. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Human mobility, presence and passive transportation of Aedes aegypti mosquito, and environmental characteristics are a group of factors which contribute to the success of dengue spread and establishment. To understand this process, we assess data from dengue national and municipal basins regarding population and demographics, transportation network, human mobility, and Ae. aegypti monitoring for the Brazilian state of Acre since the first recorded dengue case in the year 2000 to the year 2015. During this period, several changes in Acre’s transport infrastructure and urbanization have been started. To reconstruct the process of dengue introduction in Acre, we propose an analytic framework based on concepts used in malaria literature, namely vulnerability and receptivity, to inform risk assessments in dengue-free regions as well as network theory concepts for disease invasion and propagation. We calculate the probability of dengue importation to Acre from other Brazilian states, the evolution of dengue spread between Acrean municipalities and dengue establishment in the state. Our findings suggest that the landscape changes associated with human mobility have created favorable conditions for the establishment of dengue virus transmission in Acre. The revitalization of its major roads, as well as the increased accessibility by air to and within the state, have increased dengue vulnerability. Unplanned urbanization and population growth, as observed in Acre during the period of study, contribute to ideal conditions for Ae. aegyptimosquito establishment, increase the difficulty in mosquito control and consequently its local receptivity.

 
 
Myers SS. Planetary health: protecting human health on a rapidly changing planet . The Lancet [Internet]. 2017. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The impact of human activities on our planet's natural systems has been intensifying rapidly in the past several decades, leading to disruption and transformation of most natural systems. These disruptions in the atmosphere, oceans, and across the terrestrial land surface are not only driving species to extinction, they pose serious threats to human health and wellbeing. Characterising and addressing these threats requires a paradigm shift. In a lecture delivered to the Academy of Medical Sciences on Nov 13, 2017, I describe the scale of human impacts on natural systems and the extensive associated health effects across nearly every dimension of human health. I highlight several overarching themes that emerge from planetary health and suggest advances in the way we train, reward, promote, and fund the generation of health scientists who will be tasked with breaking out of their disciplinary silos to address this urgent constellation of health threats. I propose that protecting the health of future generations requires taking better care of Earth's natural systems.

Watts N, Amann M, Ayeb-Karlsson S, Belesova K, Bouley T. The Lancet Countdown on health and climate change: from 25 years of inaction to a global transformation for public health . The Lancet [Internet]. 2017. Publisher's VersionAbstract
The Lancet Countdown tracks progress on health and climate change and provides an independent assessment of the health effects of climate change, the implementation of the Paris Agreement,1 and the health implications of these actions. It follows on from the work of the 2015 Lancet Commission on Health and Climate Change,2 which concluded that anthropogenic climate change threatens to undermine the past 50 years of gains in public health, and conversely, that a comprehensive response to climate change could be “the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century”.
 
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