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Cases: How The Great Metropolitan Cities Maintain Their Healthy City

Hong Kong

Hong Kong has one of the highest population densities of any city in the world combined with one of the wealthiest: gross national income per capita is $45,090 (£28,115). With every square foot of real estate at a premium, people tend to stay out of the home to socialise; local restaurants become neighbourhood living rooms. According to LSE Cities, nearly 45% of all trips in Hong Kong are made on foot. All of which lends itself to a very healthy lifestyle. Hong Kong also has high life expectancy (and actually, it’s one of the world’s highest); it is at 82.5. Hong Kong has a high number of registered doctors – 12,818 to be precise, at the end of 2011, which is a ratio of 1:554 of the population.

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo Healthy City (population approximately 13 million people) provides an example of a megacity’s approach to building healthy public policy. The action plan for Tokyo Healthy City entitled “Towards Healthy City Tokyo - Our Action Plan for Health Promotion” was adopted in 1993 by the Tokyo Citizens’ Council for Health Promotion and endorsed by municipal governments. This plan defined priority areas for action, roles of citizens and the public and private sectors, and proposed strategies for action.

Having arguably the world's best public transport systems leads to healthier lifestyles and (relatively) lower Greenhouse Gas Emissions (GGE). According to the London School of Economics professor Ricky Burdett: "The average commute in Tokyo takes one hour, whereas Sao Paulo and Mexico City, which are smaller populations but enormous cities, have average commuting times of four hours". Japan's life expectancy remains the highest in the world.

Sydney, Australia

Sydney tops the LSE’s Metropolitan Wellbeing index for its quality of education whilst also coming in the top 10 for health and top 20 for wealth. Sydney is the embodiment of a healthy outdoor culture that many cities want to be but few actually manage because Sydney has a high level of sports clubs and facilities, parks and beaches, and Sydney also has good weather virtually all year round. Sydney is still working at 20.000 new street trees that planned to be planted to increase urban canopy by 50% by 2039, an investment in bicycle infrastructure has seen bike trips triple in peak periods, and a retro-fitting programme of City buildings has seen GGE reduce by 18%, with a plan to hit 70% over the next 20 years.

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